[Updated] Are You Making These 7 Dangerous Mistakes With Titers?
Use Titer Testing Wisely. Save Money and Serious Illness
Okay, I’ll be honest. I’m worried about your understanding of titer testing. There have been a whole lot of comments on Facebook and elsewhere where I’m seeing I need to help you get more clarity.
Clearly, you are interested in this idea. Bravo!
But you really need to be smart about this if titers are going to serve you.
Misunderstanding them could cost you money.
Or worse: your animal’s health. That’s what brings me here.
Titer testing, in a nutshell, measures the amount of antibody to a given disease in your animal.
So, a positive titer for distemper, or parvo, or rabies indicates your dog has some protection again those diseases.
A titer showing up for panleukopenia, the feline version of distemper, tells you your cat has immunity to that disease.
Are you with me so far? All well and good to know this much.
But from here on, your understanding gets a bit dicey, as evidenced by many of the comments I see all over the net.
This is worth taking a deep dive on, so join me in learning how to use this tool properly.
I want you to be smarter than the average commenter on Facebook.
Your animals are depending on you for that.
Mistake #1: “No Vet Vaccinates Every 6 Months!”
I ran into this one a while back, as a commenter called BS on an article on titers mentioning frequency of vaccinations.
If you know me at all, you know I take over vaccination very seriously.
Vaccination, in my humble opinion, after watching animal health over the past 40 years, is your single most important decision.
It turns out that LOTS of vets, especially those flying under the corporate banner, do practice gross over vaccination, as irresponsible and damaging as it is.
In the name of “wellness,” Banfield does this!
How many people use Banfield vets?
A whole lot. They’ve got over a 1000 franchise clinics out there, most of them in PetSmart stores, and those are common, right?
Here’s a post I did some time back that’ll set you straight on the “no vet does this” idea:
But if you have been a regular reader of this website, you know better than to spend money getting into a mess like this.
Avoid this over vaccination danger by being smart.
Mistake #2: Titers Must Be Done Yearly
One commenter says,
tiger testing… is required to be done annually, to ensure the proper levels of immunity are present. I looked into it, and was very disappointed to learn that titer testing my dogs does not buy me anything.”
Spell check aside (I can’t imagine how expensive testing tigers would be, but I digress), there’s no requirement to titer test.
Do it or don’t do it at all. Do it as often as you wish.
Just be sure you understand what you are spending your hard earned money on when you get a titer test.
Here’s a person who’s doing it regularly, perhaps for her peace of mind, and look at the great results Lisa is seeing:
Lucy is 9 and still titers adequate immunity from her puppy shots.”
I’d suggest Lisa can stop titer testing.
Right now, it’s only a danger to her pocketbook, but if, in doing this titer testing, she’s going to make Mistake #6, the danger increases substantially!
Mistake #3: A Titer is Just a Snapshot in Time (It Changes Frequently)
This one is a corallary to #2. While titers do change, they don’t do so quickly.
The fact is, titers are pretty darned stable.
Here’s veterinary immunologist Ron Schultz, PhD on this point:
You should avoid vaccinating animals that are already protected, and titer testing can determine if adequate, effective immunity is present. It is often said that the antibody level detected is ‘only a snapshot in time.’ That’s simply not true; it is more a ‘motion picture that plays for years.’”
This speaks to the second mistake above: odds are high you don’t need to test titers annually.
In fact, having shown a titer at all, your animal can be counted on to have immunity against those diseases, probably for life.
Mistake #4: Titer Results Are Useless. There’s a Rabies Law That Trumps Them.
Whoa, not so fast.
Yes, rabies titers are something that can be measured, and true, if you bring the results to your local governing body (usually, your municipality, city, county, etc.), most of the officials will either
- Not know what a titer even is
- Not accept a titer result. “We need proof of vaccination.”
If your goal is to avoid unnecessary vaccination for the safety of your pet, you’ve got some options, and titers can play a role.
Please note: as rabies is a human health disease, you’ll want to read this page before you make your decisions. Considering what can happen if your animal bites someone is critically important.
“Out of date” on rabies vaccination?
You’ll want to read this good news, which further arms you with valuable information.
Plan A to Avoid Unnecessary Rabies Vaccinations
The majority of my clients, once they’ve learned about longevity of immunity from 1-2 rabies vaccinations, given after 16 weeks of age, and the inherent harm in over vaccinating, quietly “drop out” of rabies vaccination requirements.
YMMV (your mileage may vary), depending on where you live.
It’s worth being proactive on this, I think.
One rabies vaccination too many can cause great harm and even death.
A rabies law? The following of which could cause your animal harm or even death?
Probably worth thinking like this intelligent fellow,
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”
– Thomas Jefferson
A rabies titer, alongside your vaccination certificate, would offer proof of immunity, if your animal bites someone.
Plan B to Avoid Unnecessary Rabies Vaccinations
In the U.S., eighteen states now allow medical exemptions to rabies revaccination.
There’s some great language in these exemptions, language I often use in my letters of vaccine waiver that I write for clients to board or groom:
Colorado’s statute says,
A veterinarian licensed in Colorado may issue a written waiver as provided in this section exempting an animal from a rabies vaccination order if the veterinarian, in his or her professional opinion, determines the rabies inoculation is contraindicated due to the animal’s medical condition.”
Florida’s statute states,
A dog, cat, or ferret is exempt from vaccination against rabies if a licensed veterinarian has examined the animal and has certified in writing that at the time vaccination would endanger the animal’s health because of its age, infirmity, disability, illness, or other medical considerations.”
Have a holistic vet worth his salt? If you do, his opinion is enough to keep your animal from further rabies vaccinations, laws not withstanding.
Get him to write you a waiver, based on your animal’s health challenges.
A titer may help, as part of this waiver letter.
It’s dangerous to your pet’s health to just roll over and vaccinate because there’s a statute saying you must.
Mistake #5: Titer Testing is Expensive!
Several commenters cite the expense of titer testing.
It can be, but shop around.
There are kits your vet can use, so testing might range from $60-$80, if done in the vet’s clinic.
If they send the blood to a lab instead, it’ll be more like $150–200.
Some said it’s cheaper to just vaccinate yearly!
Oh my! Let’s look beyond short term costs here!
Yes, Dr. WhiteCoat is clearly still doing annual vaccinations, counter to all the current recommendations.
Only because he can. There’s no one to stop him, science be damned.
The danger here is taking the easy road of “just vaccinating” instead of assessing your animal’s need.
Vaccination remains your most important decision.
If titers can help you make wiser decisions, use them.
But, let’s compare the expense of titer testing with the cost of disease coming about from unnecessary vaccination.
You might think differently about expenses when you read some of these outcomes from “just vaccinating” instead of titer testing.
Certainly what I’ll do in the future (titer test). I’ve spent close to $500 on vet bills as a result of a rabies shot and still my Doberman is suffering.”
–“What happened,” another reader asks?
“Severe diarrhea, panniculitis, bald spot now on the injection site about the size of a quarter. It’s been 3 months now and she’s still on (ID) a gastrointestinal dog food that somewhat helps.”
Nalyn really learned how expensive and risky revaccination can be:
My dog developed Immune Mediated meningitis shortly after being re-vaccinated. She almost died. grand mal cluster of seizures, left side was paralyzed then her back legs for 2.5 weeks. I was actually told to put her to sleep because she had no chance to survive. 10 grand later and an amazing neurology team, she is in remission.”
[Still think titer testing is expensive?]
Nalyn’s not alone, by any means. Julie writes in from the UK,
2008 my Cavalier developed Immune Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia. He nearly died. His odds were 50/50. 2 emergency blood transfusions, bone marrow aspirates, drugs….cost £15k to get him well; add to that the cost of the vaccinations that caused it! I thought I was protecting him, instead I was killing him. I haven’t vaccinated my dogs since. PLEASE DON’T OVER VACCINATE.”
[again, in addition to being life threatening, you’ll notice the expense involved.]
On the bright side is Susan’s contribution:
Did my first Titer last week, just got the results & they were perfect, it (costed) $137.00. It would of cost me that for all the shots. No more Vacs for my fur-family!”
Cynthia expressed sentiments close to mine, and she hasn’t even found the less expensive version yet:
It is worth every penny of the $150. The first thing I ask a vet is do you do titers. If they do not, I find another vet… I think it says a lot about a vet that won’t do titers.”
Can you do some shopping to find vets who do this testing in house? If your vet doesn’t, perhaps it’s time to suggest he start.
That, or you and your pocketbook will be going elsewhere (right on, Cynthia!).
Mistake #6: The BIG ONE: Revaccinating When Titers Fall
If You Misunderstand This, You’ll Put Your Animal At Risk
The central point of danger to your misunderstanding titer testing is this:
Continuing to vaccinate your already-vaccinated animal
is risky business.
Falling titers or not.
Why The Risk? Serious Disease!
Let the comments above inform you of this danger. Real folks, really serious and costly vaccine injury.
Or ask your holistic vet for their examples.
We all see them on a daily basis.
Our last dog died after the lepto vaccine was given. We now go to a holistic vet.”
Barbara tells of the well known cancer appearing at the vaccine site,
Cats also can develop a cancer at the vaccine site. Feline Vaccine Associated Sarcoma has been known about since the late 80s…My cat BC died from this cancer. It’s real and it’s still happening”
Sherry tells of her dog getting cancer:
My Tifanny was dx with lymphoma two weeks to the day after being vaccinated. If left alone, she would have been dead in less than two weeks! Through chemo and a bunch of dietary and supplement changes, she lived nine additional months.
As I explained in an article Dogs Naturally Magazine shared with their readers, falling titers does not mean immunity is gone.
Reread this bold part once more. It’s the most common mistake many of you seem to be making.
It’s shows up again and again, across way too many dog group social media sites.
It’s also the most dangerous mistake you can make.
Vaccination of an already vaccinated animal is both useless and unsafe.
Titers will fall, eventually. Probably years from now (see #3 above).
(Though, interestingly, rabies titers often continue to rise after vaccination has stopped. More than one of my holistic vet colleagues has measured this phenomenon.)
It’s critical to understand that a fallen titer does not mean more vaccinations are necessary.
Want to know why? It’s a sound argument of immunology I call the Fallacy of Titer Tests.
As in all things in critical thinking, you can’t skim over things like titer testing when the result could be serious disease or death for your animal.
Mistake #7: Falling for “Protective Titers Numbers Game”
This one has some of you also running to get vaccines after you test titers and the result comes back “positive” (good!) but “not protective” (aww?).
We’ve got a great veterinary immunologist explaining this:
There are no numbers. If the actively immunized dog or cat is tested, and the test is considered positive, regardless of the number, the animal is immune.
— RD Schultz, vet immunologist, U. of Wisconsin
Good to remember this about vet immunologists: they don’t sell vaccines!
- Does your vet have a different opinion about “protective titers?”
- Does he sell vaccines?
Is intelligent titer testing part of your plan for your animal? Did you learn something today?
Tell us in the comments.
I am so thankful for this website and for Dr. Falconer. I am at my wits end. Every year I have to take my cat in for blood work and because she’s aggressive and doesn’t like to be handled, they have to fully sedate her, give her the rabies vaccine and reverse the sedation. My cat suffers from a severe twitching condition and is on medication for life. I truly believe that her condition is due all the shots she had as a kitten in addition to what she was given a month later when she was spayed. Before she was spayed, she was a sweet, curious, loving kitten who liked being around people. When I went to pick her up after her spay, she was this wild beast – screeching hysterically. A week after she healed, she turned into a completely different cat. She was aggressive and started acting out. Then at 3 years old she developed a severe twitching condition. Now she is on medication for the rest of her life and because of this, the vet clinic makes me take her in every year for blood work. It’s now coming up to her annual visit in a few weeks. A few months ago I talked to the vet about not giving her the rabies vaccine and was told that her condition does not exempt her from getting it. She went on to say its law and she brought up Vicarious Liability. What hurt me the most is that she said to me that if my cat bites someone, she has to report it and my cat may be quarantined and put down!!!!! I am now terrified. They know I am against vaccinating and I even called their office a few days ago and told them to note my file that I don’t want my cat to be vaccinated for rabies and then later on in the day, I receive an email from the clinic saying I am due for my cat’s annual blood work and RABIES VACCINE! What can I do? If it weren’t for the fact that my cat needs the meds, I would not even take her to the vet’s every year but they have me in a corner and I can’t get away. I am so upset and cry myself to sleep. My sister’s poor sweet boy (dog) died 4 months ago from a very fast growing cancer which we suspect was from over vaccination. I feel powerless:(
Angela, do not pass Go, immediately FIRE THIS VET! She is guilty of malpractice, and has missed the significant point that any animal who is on life long meds is, by definition, NOT HEALTHY! Unbelievable attitude and she and her practice should not receive another nickel from you.
You do indeed have a way out of this corner, in a way that no one has likely even considered in your corner of the world: curing your cat! Conventional medicine has not and cannot possibly pull off a cure, and “meds for life,” especially for a cat, is no life at all. You can hire a homeopathic vet to steer this poor creature to a life or greater normalcy and, depending on her age and how much time she has “on her clock,” get her back to a healthy state, free of aggression, free of drugs, and free of the hammer this vet is bringing down on you both every single year. This approach works, because your chosen homeopathic vet need not be near you. You can learn to relate symptoms as you see them, and you can consult by telephone.
Here are several article that will help you:
1. Annual vaccines!! FIRE anyone pushing this on you!
2. No sick animal should ever be vaccinated. Period.
3. How to hire a professional homeopathic vet, no matter the distance from you (grab the free download of my Apoquel Alternatives Report)
I’m simultaneously incensed and embarrassed that a vet is treating you and your cat this way. Shame on her.
There is a vet where I live that ran a video in the exam room while you waited. The video was about the parvo vax and how it should be given every 6 months. Needless to say I never went back to that guy.
FIRED! Good move, Hazel.
p.s. If you ever run into such nonsense with another vet ask, “How many adults with parvo have you seen in the past decade?” Might just get some wheels turning for him. Or at least let him know you’re on to his tactics.
I had my two Yorkies tittered for the first time in late June of this year. I did so because I wanted “proof on paper” that they were “immune” and since they are both “overdue” by a year for their rabies vacs (and increasing pressure by the vet to have them done), I opted to titer instead. My eldest (9 yrs old) boy’s came back with an “above 0.5 IU/mL” which was deemed “good”. My younger (8 yrs old) boy’s came back as “below detection” at “less than 0.1 IU/mL” and “needing booster”. The blood samples were sent to Kansas State. The ONLY difference in the two boys’ vaccine history is that my younger boy received for his “1 year booster” the “3 year vaccine” instead. (I am well aware that they are the same vaccine, only labeled differently.) Thus, he has “technically” had one less rabies shot than his brother. They both were last vaccinated in 2014. Neither boy is healthy enough for me to risk any more vaccinations, my younger one is particularly unwell with declining health, extreme yeast problems (black skin disease) and ear infections. I’m of a notion that he is one of the one’s that don’t “register” immunity , no matter how many shots he gets.
Hey Anna, titers take a back seat to the elephant in the room: unwell animals should NOT receive any vaccines. Period, full stop. That’s just basic medical principle, though vets forget it all the time. I see you’ve got it, and that’s what’ll keep your little ones safe for worsening illness.
Thanks for an informative article. I live in a rural area in Virginia. My vet does titer testing for me at my request. I am the only one in my area who has asked for this. What a shame! I have a Doberman who is almost 5. I have been titering every year but from your article I see I don’t have to. This year Beau was due for a rabies vaccination. My vet did a titer and found he still had immunity. She filled out a form for the county so that he would not have to vaccinate. So far, so good, since I haven’t heard anything from them. Every dog I have had before this one I have faithfully vaccinated as suggested by the vet. When I lost my last one to cancer and before I got another one, I did a lot of research. I always find valuable information from you and I follow you on Facebook. I always share your articles hoping that some of my friends will read them and take them to heart. Again, thanks from Beau and me!
Very cool use of titer info, Kathleen! Glad Virginia is open minded enough to allow this. I’m ever so glad you’ve shifted your definition of “being a good pet parent” after extensive research! Your animals will benefit for generations to come. Woo hoo!
I groom dogs and I’m required by the state to note vaccinations on the client cards. Now…I could be devious and put false information on the cards and groom the dog anyway but I’m not that kind of person. So, I discovered a loophole in my states grooming laws. Personally, I am NOT licensed by the state…only my facility. The state can’t go into each private home and license their “facility”. I have double checked this with my Dept of Agriculture and they agreed. So, I now do house call’s for those people who do not want to vaccinate their dogs. Of course, I cannot advertise that’s the reason why I’m doing house calls because I’d get a HUGE backlash from local vets. (they already hate me LOL!!!) There’s a million reasons why a person would prefer house calls…such as the disabled…human and canine. And I do NOT charge exorbitant rates for this service! I won’t take advantage of the people I serve in this community.
As for my own dogs…all vaccinations have STOPPED! I do give distemper/parvo as puppies because the rate of Parvo in this area is epidemic. I asked my local vet, “when was the last time you saw rabies in your clinic”? I was surprised by the answer! They’ve NEVER seen rabies in the clinic but HEARD of another vet that saw a feral cat about 7 years ago with it. OMG! Doesn’t that put things into perspective?!! I asked the same question to a new vet straight out of school. He’d never seen rabies but HEARD there was a cow that had it while he was in school. The cow had to be euthanized. Hummmmmm….
So for me, I weigh out risks…risk of disease vs. vaccination.
Thank you for breaking this down! I’m bookmarking this article so I can share it with others. Excellent, life-saving, money-saving information!
Hi Doc! Thanks for doing such a service for the animals by educating the owners! So much has changed since the original date of the publication regarding availability and cost.
Dr. Robb of ProtectThePets.com does affordable titers, as well as RabiesAware.org and Hemopet (Dr. Dodds). All have the paperwork online, cost, and instructions on sending the sample yourself, rather than the ridiculous cost through your vet’s contracted lab.
I’m sorry Darren above thinks titers are useless. It sounds like words out of a Dr. Whitecoat’s mouth.
Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!
Great article, if titers actually meant anything at all.
Showing titers for a disease, regardless of the level does not show immunity. To put it more clearly, titers do not equate to immunity. They are simply a measure of antibodies and those antibodies are simply an indication that the animal has been in contact to the virus previously. Having titers, high or low, does not mean your pet is immune in any way. There are far more mechanisms involved in immunity other than just titers. You can have titers, high or low, and still catch the virus/disease. You can research this yourself and you will see the proof.
The only benefit titer testing has, is to bypass the vaccination law to prevent over vaccinating.
By the way, for the record, vaccinating (which is not immunising) is the worst thing you can do to any living creature.
The foremost vet immunologists in the field disagree with you that titers “don’t mean anything”. On the contrary, studies have been conducted to prove correlation between both serological and live challenges for viral immunity and titers. There is certainly a correlation. A nice one, actually. The caveat is to remember that just because a titer is LOW or non-existent does NOT mean that immunity is gone (for an adult animal, with proof of past immunity) because of CMI. MLV vaccines for Parvo and Distemper provide sterilizing immunity if given properly and assuming that the dog’s body mounted the appropriate immune response (verifiable by titer). Killed are, of course, more complicated in that they do not provide sterilizing immunity, but even there we are seeing the emergence of a verifiable titer in the case of Rabies for people, and the latest Rabies Challenge Study data is going to provide one specifically for dogs as well.
I am so with you Dr. Falconer. I have a male Doberman, who just turned 12 years old this month. He is doing great, you would never know he was that old. The only shots this dog has had is the puppy shots. Back in 2006 when he was still a pup, my gut feeling was no more shots. In return a very healthy, happy boy! Keep up the good work and getting the word out Dr. Falconer!!
Nice, Paulette! And you can have every confidence that “puppy diseases” aren’t going to bother him at this age. That’s coming from Dr. Schultz (chief immunologist I listen to, voice of reason, science, and lack of conflict of interest!). I’d love to see us return to the definition of “senior” returning to 12+ years of age (I think conventional vet medicine has lowered it to 6-8 now!).
Just in case you need more ammunition against vaccines: When I got my first job I decided to take my childhood cat to the vet and make sure I got him checked on and did anything the vet said was necessary to keep him in good health. The vet, hearing he only had his kitten vaccines recommended a series of vaccines. My cat was 10 years old. The vaccines were given a few weeks a part, she also ran every test available. I just trusted what she told me despite the fact that my cat had no problems or symptoms. A few months pass and my cat now has several lesions in his inner legs. Back to the vet and she says he has auto immune disorder. I was baffled. How did that happen? What caused it? She couldn’t say, but suggested steroids and started a place in case it started happened again. I didn’t trust her after that and I worked hard on a healthy diet for my cat. It seemed to help, but he truly never was the same, it seemed the health problems we’re constant. #2, my pup was vaccinated very close together, I was not happy the vet took advantage of my husband not knowing or questioning what they were doing. He cost me 3 grand in testing to figure out what caused a siezure. Auto immune disorder again, high white blood cell count in the spinal fluid causing brain inflammation. We’re going on 7 months now with treatments almost every month costing $330. Fortunately my nuerologist has been awesome and my pup is a champ. But this has been stressful and costly. I fortunately have pet insurance.
Oh, Elizabeth, these are two so unnecessary tales of woe. Keep an eye out for my upcoming workshop where I’ll cover Immune Confusion as one of the videos. It will totally make sense that you were dealing with autoimmune disease in two very different animals with similar vaccine histories. In my masterclass at the tail end of the workshop, I’ll walk you through alternatives, so you never have to go through this with a new youngster.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
My Briard had cancer and my vet insisted on a rabies shot before she would do surgery even though the current shot was just a few days over the 3 year mark. We went around and around and finally she was able to convince the owner of the practice to waive the shot if I had a titer done. So, I did, at a cost of almost $300 and it took weeks to receive the results from the lab in Kansas. The ridiculous part of this was the surgery was done the next day after the titer was sent out without them knowing Bentley was covered! He lasted about 4 months after the surgery. And, oh, the cancer was on the site of the injection for rabies.
Oh, Sharon, unbelievable you and your dog were put through this mill of bad medicine! It’s thinking (or lack thereof) like that of the vets involved that truly embarrass our profession. No dog with cancer should be vaccinated. EVER. And cancer at the site of a vaccination? Caused by the vaccine?? I can’t believe that was even a point of argument. SMH…
Our rescue has been with us almost a year & although he came with a lot of baggage, he’s clear of everything now except still tests positive for Heartworms, although he’s never acted sick. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s one of the small percentage of dogs I read about who can always show antibodies once exposed. Because he’s not quite two years old & we’re the third (& final) home for our sweet boy, I know he’s had at least one Rabies vaccine & most likely several considering how many times he’s been in rescue before. The problem is because he had a 1-yr. vaccine a year ago, he’s due for another & I don’t want to give it to him, but I know if I don’t, he won’t be allowed the 3-yr. certificate if/when we do allow it. I know it’s law-required in our state, but I’d like to hold off at least until he’s clear of the Heartworms, however I can’t find a Vet within driving distance who does Rabies Titer testing. How can I avoid risking yet another 1-year vaccine if I wait or find a Vet sympathetic to our situation? Thanks!
Hi. I breed Persian kittens and I always insist a titer test is done if I am bringing in a new kitten. This is to check if the kitten is carrying Coronavirus Antibodies. Ironically I am looking for a zero reading if possible, but will accept a reading up to 20.Anything higher than this ,I will not touch.
About 12 years ago I took in a “moggy” as a favour.I knew nothing about Coronavirus then. This kitten had Coronavirus which mutated into F.I.P. and my 5 Persians had to be put to sleep. I got a special licence from the Dept. of Agriculture to bring in vaccines from Germany, but to no avail. I then had to disinfect everything and keep my place free of all cats for 12 Months.
I don’t think there is enough attention to this type of titer reading
My 11-yr old girl Corgi titer tested good for rabies. California law demands every 3 years. I got monthly fines, increasing, when I didn’t have her vaccinated. Then Gov. Brown changed the vet laws and made vets responsible if the dog bites someone, so the vets got on my back. She is new with diabetes before the rabies shot, but rabies shots always make her very aggressive, I no longer have a good holistic vet who can make the shot ineffective. Makes me so angry! She got the rabies shot, and we are dealing with the aggressiveness. Not giving her any more!!
Such malpractice in the name of a law that’s outdated and dangerous. Patricia, your state has a boat load of holistic vets and the ability to get a vet waiver for rabies. That’s where you need to go next.
All the best.
In my area, I was quoted about $150 to do titers for several of the vaccines, except rabies. For rabies I was told it would be $400. I don’t know why the cost is so high in Southern Ontario, but I feel like it’s just to discourage people from getting titers and to “just get the vaccine.” My dog is 10 years old, raw fed, no chemicals used on him. His immune system is fantastic and he definitely doesn’t act like an old dog. I’m not going to trade all that away and put vaccines in him year after year when I’m pretty certain, knowing what I know about immunity, that he is still protected.
Last time I was in to the vet (for a chiropractic adjustment for my dog) they begged me to get the lepto vaccine. Oh boy! That’s the worst! No thanks!
I so appreciate the wise place you find yourself standing in. Your dog has benefitted immensely over someone’s who knows less and still “just vaccinates” because, well, just because.
Agreed: overpriced titers where you are. Probably for the reason you state.
Thanks for joining the discussion.
Thank you so much for all the critical information that you share with your readers; I appreciate all of your advice. I have a great article on my website iin which I listed the states that allow medical exemptions and waivers for rabies vaccinations. I included a short description and a link to the actual statute for each state on the list.
I have been told youve used my quote from another site….curious..what site? . I thought Id add she was diagnosed with encephalitis from being over-vaccinated……she goes for chemo every 7 weeks now to keep her immune suppressed and a small dose of prednisone. its been a very long hard road over the year…. if you want to use my quote..can you please link http://beautifuljosie.blogspot.ca/ so that people can see the real experience we went through from being over vaccinated?
Yes, the basis for this piece was all the comments on Rodney Habib’s original post, linked at the beginning.
Happy to have people read your blog. Good luck with Josie!
Thank you! After she got sick , I did a ton of research and only found horrible endings. I turned to the Pomeranian community and found a few owners with dogs with encephalitis-meningitis . All are vaccine related. Josie had the severe case symptoms before death but she was able to beat the odds when I was told she would never survive. Unfortunately 2 of the dogs did not beat the disease. We all have come together to try to educate about this disease and over vaccinating and well about vaccines in general from our experiences.
I’m so happy these articles are coming out . Hopefully these articles will save more lives. I wish I had his knowledge before I had her re vaccinated.
Maybe you mentioned it, but I didn’t see it, Nalyn. How long was it from vaccination until symptoms started to show in Josie?
I have a q about types of vaccinosis, and protocols to handle them. I have a 13 year old dog who received some vaccines until age 4. He has been titered and unvaccinated since, except for 2 rabies vaccines, which we stopped at age 8. He’s been on raw food and anti-inflammatory supps for 9 years to help with arthritis. topical flea treatment was applied monthly for 6-9 months a year till this year. Three months ago a hard, fibrous lump appeared, under the skin, no lesion, fixed something, sitting between his scapula. This is where some vax were done, also his microchip is partially embedded, and also where the Revolution treatments were applied. The lump is growing up like a hump – now size of tennis ball. Fine needle aspiration revealed irregular cells no official cancer (not yet). Could this be a form of vaccinosis? It is very round and encapsulated, and integrative vets all agree not a good thing to remove or break open to biopsy for a number of reasons. What protocol is there to shrink a mass caused by vaccinosis or toxins? TY
(Yes, I know his program was not perfect, and will follow natural rearing in the future with any and all pets we may have 🙂 )
This is the start of VAS (vaccine associated sarcoma), with all likelihood. It’s beyond vaccinosis to inflammatory and probably soon out of control growth.
Also beyond DIY protocols. You need to get a homeopathic vet on board. Though, in all honesty, the handful I’ve treated haven’t gone away and were eventually the cause of the dog’s demise. I think my homeopathic vet colleagues have had similar experiences.
See my Resources link, at the very top of the page, to find the AVH list and a good homeopathic vet to help minimize the damage and slow this.
Surgery is a frustration, as it always grows back, and usually faster each time.
All the best to you. Difficult situation your dog is in, I’m afraid.
Perfect timing! Just had my two 3-year old Westies titer test (VacciCheck). One Westie tested positive for parvo and distemper. The other Westie, parvo was positive but distemper was negative. I asked about the negative reading and they said it was just light blue instead of bright blue. Of course, they are advocating re-vaccinating for distemper. My gut tells me no, and now your article confirms it. This Westie also receives weekly allergy shots for his 20+ environmentally allergies. No sure if there’s a corrolation between the allergy therapy and the negative titer.
The only clear correlation I see repeatedly is between the allergies following vaccination. With the immune confusion vaccines bring, perhaps comes poor ability to respond adequately to make a titer adequately.
But, be sure to read the link I’ve got in the article to waivers. Anybody receiving allergy shots has one, and it should be written in big red and bold letters in the record: NO VACCINATIONS FOR LIFE.
Thank you! I’ve made a copy of your waiver article!
Great, Gerry. I hope it helps.
Hi .I have 6 x collie/ poodle dogs aged 17.5 yrs, 12 years , 10 , 7, 3 and a pup of 11wks.
My eldest dogs Mum died of autoimmune hemolytic anemia when my dog was a year old. Because of this I researched feeding and vaccinations. He had already had his puppy shots and a booster but I vowed I’d never give an unnecessary booster again. I changed his food to raw and stopped vaccinating him and chose to titre test instead. At that time very few vets in the UK even knew you could , but I researched and took the info into my vets and got the titre done. He was fully protected.
I continued to read and learn and when my next pup came along I intended to just give both puppy shots. However he was poorly after his first shot with bad diarohea ,so I decided to get him titre tested to see if he needed his second jab. Despite him having the jab at 9 weeks he was fully immune so no second jab needed. I continued to titre test him yearly ,as I didn’t realise or have the knowledge then on immunity. However each year for 4 years his levels rose !!! despite having had no boosters . He is an extremely puppy friendly dog and I am sure he self boostered ? Anyway in his 6th year his levels dipped to low again. My vet said he must be boostered , but I refused and took him to visit a friend with a recently vaccinated puppy. Out of interest I re titred him a few months later and hey presto high titres again.
From this I have done the same regime with all the successive dogs. One puppy jab and titre a few weeks later. All have been protected by one jab and all have remained so. Now I have the knowledge that if a dog has had a high measurable titre at least once in its life it is fully protected almost certainly for its life ,I no longer titre
that dog once a high titre has been proven.
My latest puppy will not have a shot till she is 14 weeks and I am not sure if I’ll even have her titred as I am so sure she will be protected. I am also not giving her the Lepto jab as it’s the most likely to cause a problem and only has such a short duration of immunity. All my dogs are fed a raw diet and have great health.
I continue to try and educate people and friends as to the dangers of over vaccination, but sadly it falls on deaf ears such a lot 🙁
Nice work, Rosie. Thanks for sharing this with us.
I would add only one refinement to your newfound understanding. The immunologists with nothing to sell tell us that titer you find at first means immunity is there, regardless of whether that value is high or low. It’s just got to show up to know they’ve “converted,” and will carry immunity forward, likely for life.
Thanks again, and all the best with your Vital Pack of myriad ages.
Hello, I have 2 Bearded Collies I bred, they are now 11 1/2 years old. When their first booster was due I had them titre tested, both came back low for parvo and the vet recommended booster of parvo and lepto. Within 3 months both started having digestive issues – one cannot have any fish products or cereals and the other no meat or cereals and both started reacting fearfully to certain noises. I put this firmly in the vaccinations court and they have not had any chemicals since but the vets in the UK won’t recognise this and say that reactions to vaccines are rare! Now I have had a litter of 9 and their owners are having trouble with their vets and what I have recommended, what can I do?
It’s what this site is ultimately about: arming people with the power of knowledge, so they can stand up to Dr. WhiteCoat and the Old School and partake in health care they know to be the best for their charges. Sometimes that’ll mean firing their vet and moving to a new, more open minded one. Sometimes that one is at a distance and consults by phone, and the local vet provides emergency needs, which become less and less as the Natural Path is tread.
Parvo is a gut virus. It make perfect sense that illness after parvo vaccine is located in the gut, doesn’t it? Like distemper in the nose or lungs and even foot pads. Or rabies (which, thankfully, you needn’t deal with) disturbed the mental world of vaccinated animals.
Just remembered hearing of this “trick” to boost titers…never tried it as i never will vaccinate again, but does this work? i was told a week or so before you have you dog’s titers done take him/her to vets offices, dog parks, pet stores, your friends freshly vaccinated dogs ect..idea being some of those dogs were more likely than not freshly vaccinated, and shedding the virus. Exposing your dog to those enviroments will trigger an immune response to those shed virus’ and boost the titer results. Ture or hogwash?
True, Jill, but you have to ask yourself, now that you know what (I hope) you know: What’s the point? Right?
I mean, if you had a titer before, you know you’ve got an immune dog. If that titer drops, and now you know you needn’t buy the idea of more vaccinations, who cares about that dropped titer.
Are you with me?
Thanks Dr. Will.
It doesn’t make a difference to me, i will never vax again. But many people new to Natural Rearing pups always wonder when its safe to start taking their unvaxed pup out to big disease areas like shows, i was just thinking about the unvaxed pup that the owners just want to have “piece of mind” that their pup does indeed have have immunity to disease x, y and z even though they were not directly vaxxed for them. Herd immunity basically.
Oh, got it, yes. Probably better immunity overall with this method, as I wrote about here. Remarkable titers in unvaccinated animals from the natural exposure, tested by my colleague Dr. Manziano.
Thank you Dr. Falconer for this valuable information. Just today before I opened your newsletter to read this, I made an appointment for annual blood work which includes titers. The last time I did titers was August 2013 for rabies and parvo/distemper. Having been told that the rabies titers was good for 3 years , but the parvo/distemper was only good for one year, I thought that I might need to do this since it is required for my dog to go to camp. However, had I not read this article, I would not have known anything about falling titers and not to panic if that were to show up, and how to confidently respond if vaccines were suggested.
I love it when “just in time” learning takes place! And I’m all over “confidently responding.” Powerful stances like that come with knowledge.
Right on, Janice!
Excellent article again Dr. Falconer! Love you! 🙂 But I have to say, I don’t even titer test and I don’t vaccinate anymore(haven’t in several years & my indoor cats only were vaccinated 1x ever!) I feed a the best raw diet on the market and has been for 21yrs now! Not Steve’ raw food as it is not properly formulated. And advise people on how to make their own when they want help.
These vaccines are money makers for allopathic vets. Depending on where they are located & how small or large their practice is they make a 2,400% to 6,200% profit on all vaccines & meds(we haven’t done the profit on surgeries still)
And remember titers can be incorrect too. Meaning false. Happens in humans too for blood work and then you’ll have some allopathic vet there telling you that you need another vaccine. NOT!!!! If people were to raise their dogs & cats naturally, on great correctly formulated raw food diet mainly from herbivore/angulate animals because poultry, pork & fish are not the normal diet of carnivores(made up by the PFI & poultry factory farming industry). Yes, bad breedings can cause medical problems, but most diseases in our pets are caused from poor nutrition from feeding Commercial Processed foods, over vaccinations, monthly Heart Worm Poisons, flea tick & mosquito poisons of topical, oral pills & collars. Meds like steroids & pain killers cause damage to the immune system too.
Again, thanks for the info.
Pigs *are* ungulate animals, though, according to this website: http://basicbiology.net/animal/mammals/ungulate/
Ungulate species are separated into two orders: Perissodactyla and Artiodactyla. The Perissodactyls are commonly known as the odd-toed ungulates and includes horses, rhinos, and tapirs. The Artiodactyla consists of the even-toed ungulates and is a much larger order with around 220 different species. Cows, sheep, goats, buffalos, deer, giraffes, pigs, and camels are just a few of the many even-toed ungulates that currently exist on Earth.
I would like to know if there is any research on circulating levels of antibodies in the bitch and the corresponding antibody levels in colostrum.
I can’t point you to it, but we’ve known this for a very long time. Mom passes on passive immunity in her colostrum to those things she’s been exposed to. Passive means temporary, and not active, which would happen when the youngster is exposed and responds with his own immune system.
The passive immunity gets the youngster by for a few months, maybe up to 4, before it subsides and Junior is on his own. It’s that same immunity that prevents vaccines from working if given too early to a youngster.
Good question. Glad you’re thinking critically.
Do the B cells then provide antibodies directly for the colostrum, or are the bitch’s serum circulating antibodies directly responsible for the levels of antibodies found in her colostrum?
I guess my ultimate question is this: If a bitch has only memory immunity to a specific antigen, will her colostrum still provide protection to the neonate?
Yes. Colostrum, to my knowledge, doesn’t depend on Mom having circulating antibody. I could be wrong, as I haven’t studied it deeply, and it may not be studied enough to say for certain, but that’s the idea I hold.
I do not vaccinate. I had a 7 year old unvaxed dog titred for rabies 2 years ago. He had a better than adequate titre! I wrote to Ron S. Told him this dog has never been exposed to bait as they don’t drop bait in this area. He was surprised enough to ask me to do all my dogs which I decided not to because of the cost involved and I prefer to be under the radar if you know what I mean. I am very happy that he had such a good titer and am not concerned. it disturbs me however that the medical community puts so much emphasis on titers and not “memory cells” which REALLY are the important part of the picture. Sigh.
Thanks, Roberta. I can fully understand Schultz’s wonderment. Where did that rabies titer come from?? Very interesting mystery.
And yes, we’ve got a bit of an uphill charge to help folks understand the limits of titer results in shaping future behavior.
I can say the same. Positive rabies titer for a dog that has never been vaccinated nor had access to bait.
Thanks, Karen. My best guess is some “nose contact” with somebody recently vaccinated for rabies, as someone mentioned getting a boost in titer by merely letting her dog smell the opened vaccine vial!
I didn’t think rabies vaccine virus shedded, however. So, still a bit of mystery.
Great article, thank you so much for arming us with the knowledge we need to be the best advocates for our pets!
I have an 11 year old Westie and back in 2008, she would of been 4 at the time, I decided to run titres instead of vaccinating. I would say this was on of the best decisions I could of made, her rabies titre came in at 1:1700 (booster is required if below 1:5), adenovirus, parvo and distemper titres were also extremely high. I think my vet was quit shocked as she had never seen titres so high. I shudder to think what would of happened to my poor dog if I continued to vaccinate her. We have never run titres on her again nor do we plan to as I would never vaccinate this dog again – I am fortunate to have a vet who feels the same way.
Nice, Louise. That speaks to a point I made a bit ago: rabies is a highly effective vaccination. Hence, the need for very few vaccinations with it, laws or no laws.
I’m so glad your vet is on board. Kudos to her.
When I had titer tests run this year for my year and a half old aussie she tested fine in everything except Lepto. My vet said she had no immunity. She has reactions to vaccinations, hence the titer testing. He wanted her to have just a lepto but I decide against it since it is usually the one that causes reactions. Do you think I did the right thing?
Absolutely! Lepto is an all around lousy vaccine, period. It makes dogs sick, protects, if at all, for a few months, and misses about half of the main serovars (types) of lepto that dogs get sick with! Good article recently on this from Dogs Naturally Magazine. Just search the word and you’ll find it.
Thank you I will go read the article right now.
Well after reading the article I looked through all my aussies paperwork and found out that my breeder vaccinated without lepto but recommended Vanguard Plus 5 L4CV which includes lepto be used for the rest of her puppy shots. My vet did use CV DAPP+4way Lepto for her last two puppy shots. Now I feel awful for not having this information before she was vaccinated. I am sure that the lepto is what caused her horrible reaction and I thought I was protecting her. I guess all I can do now is guarantee she will NEVER receive another lepto vaccine. So since its protection life is short is the damage short term also? Thank you Dr. Falconer!
Oh, Stacey, I wish that were true. It’s often a long haul to get over vaccinosis, but get a homeopathic vet to help. It’s a chronic state, but it’s curable with careful work.
And don’t rue what’s past. We have only the present to work with, and hope to build it into a better future. We all start when and where we start onto a new path. No need to weep for the old path, just leave it and know it got you here.
All the best Stacey.
My dog Buddy was found as a stray and taken to a shelter. He was suffering from malnutrition, sarcoptic mange, hookworms, and IBD. Before they allowed me to adopt him, he was neutered and fully vaccinated, despite his health issues. It took almost 2 full years for me and my holistic vet to restore him to a state of good health, and he was never vaccinated again. He is now almost 6 years old. I recently had a titer test done, and his results indicated full immunity for distemper, parvo, etc. Except he did not do a rabies titer, because he said rabies titers are inaccurate and that rabies vaccines tend to wane after 6 years. Based on that, he wants to go ahead and vaccinate for rabies next year. I really would prefer not to do that. Is there an accurate titer for rabies?
Certainly rabies titers are accurate. They are done in Kansas State lab and are used for export/import regulations and more every day.
Sounds like a line of bull. Tends to wane at 6 years? Where’s the evidence of that? Dr. Schultz and others are of the opinion that immunity is likely life long to all virus vaccinations, and rabies is one of the best immunizing agents we have.
But the deeper question is this: did you understand Mistake #6?
And deeper yet, what do YOU want to do with this dog? Who’s calling the shots for him (pardon the pun)? You or Dr. WhiteCoat?
Hallelujah! Finally someone that makes sense. Thank you!
Now do these same guidelines apply to titre testing for tick borne illnesses? My girl tested pretty high for Babesia (650) and were advised to give her those toxic shots. What is your thought on this?
Titers do one thing, and one thing only: they show a “footprint” in the blood that the immune system has been triggered by exposure to something.
So, a high tick titer means just that: exposure happened, and your dog responded by making antibodies. That’s a very different thing than saying it means your dog needs drugs! Is he sick? Or was he just exposed and beat the tick disease by making such a great response, as evidenced by his titer?
(Even if he were sick, which I doubt or you’d have said it, you have better options for treatment. See the link for the Resources page above and get a homeopath hired if you need treatment that’s both safe and effective.)
Thanks for asking, Tanya. Good question.
The way I see it is why titer at all if any reading at all means there are antibodies present?
Good question, Laurie, and we certainly survived for many years without knowing titer info.
The one most useful time to get a titer is this: a few weeks after either a natural exposure protocol or a vaccination. What you’ll gain is the knowledge that your animal either got immunized or didn’t.
You are correct: if there’s any numbers on the report page, you’re done. He’s been immunized by your chosen route. If there is a big fat zero, you’re not done yet.
And, to just put a slightly finer point to it, the presence of antibodies is the indication that the memory cells got triggered and will “keep record” of this germ for a long, long time. Even after those antibodies fall off.
Make sense? I’m glad you brought it up.
Thank you for this article. I’m importing a Spinone Italiano puppy from the UK. I am also a Spinone breeder. I’ve asked the breeder in the UK to not vaccinate my puppy, which they’ve agreed not to. The pup will be 10 weeks old when she arrives in the US (in 2 days). I’ve decided to not vaccinate until she is at least 12 weeks, and then only with single parvo and distemper vaccs. and will put off the rabies as long as possible. My question to you is: since she is coming from the UK where they do not vaccinate for rabies will she have the immunity from her mom?
I would like to wait to vaccinate until she is 16 weeks but am worried about early socialization and taking her around other dogs that are vaccinated (they can shed the vaccine, right?) Spinoni need early socialization or they can become very shy and never get over it and I don’t want that to happen so I’m between a rock and a hard place.
So, before all of your decisions comes this: what the U.S. Dept of Ag requiring to bring the pup in? Have you searched this out? It’s highly unlikely they’d allow a pup in without vaccinations of some sort. This is international travel, after all.
So, start there. APHIS I believe is where you need to look.
Then we can talk about rocks and hard places.
My Bernese Mountain Dog is nearly 10 and we have been titering since she was one year old. They are still good. I really do it for my vet as I think she is learning something. And she can’t say I’m a bad client because I don’t vaccinate. She sees proof every year that it would be unnecessary and hopefully if she has an immune-compromised patient maybe she will rethink about re commending shots. I really don’t think the older vets totally understand it . I am her only client t that titters.
So, unmentioned specifically, but are you saying you vaccinated your Berner early in life and then stopped, but the titer has held all these years? That’s my guess.
You probably want to start laying the foundation of understanding ahead of time that, even if this titer falls, you’ll not be signing up for revaccination. Share this article with you vet, if you wish. The more that learn this, the less damage will be done.
Thanks for sharing this with us.
I have a Berner and a Newfoundland. Newf is 8.5 and only had parvo and distemper as a puppy. We have to do rabies as it is law in NC and there are also some things in NC if animal is exposed to rabies and has a lapse in vaccination, so we do rabies. I do titers.
My Berner is 11 months. His breeder surprisingly wants me to do a parvo/distemper booster at a year. I recently lost my last Berner in January to lymphoma (did not respond to 4 months of chemo) at the age of 5. Exactly 5. Turned 5 in January and died in January.
Berners have such problems with cancer I wish titers were good for rabies.
A pup who came with a suitcase, sounds like. Best of luck standing up for your truth, Cindy. Follow your gut on this one. It’s speaking truth.
This article couldn’t have come in at a better time. Just took my 4 year old German Shepherd in for her yearly exam and my Vet tried to convince me to have titers done for Parvo, Distemper and Hep because my dog may have lost all the antibodies since the titer was done last year. Also she said the Distemper reading was a little low last year so she was very concerned my dog would be susceptible to this disease. I told her I saw no reason to do titers 2 years in a row and it doesn’t matter that the distemper reading was low…any reading at all means they have antibodies.. She wasn’t happy with my decision. I will print out this article and bring it to her next month when I have to bring my other dog in for his yearly exam.
You and Jeri both bring up the same good point, Lorraine: many vets understanding of immunology is shaky, too. Especially those who continue to revaccinate throughout an animal’s life, but also, as you point out, the whole titer issue.
As I look back over my vet school experience, I really had no clue how damaging vaccination could be. Nor did I learn about long term immunity, and no one discouraged repeated vaccinations, certainly.
Thanks for this. Right on.
We also no longer titer test our dogs. When we first started using the titer test process, results for one of our dogs revealed a “below protective level” distemper reading. The vet we were using then (approx. 16 years ago) recommended re-vaccinating with a single distemper vaccine. As we were new to this process, we authorized her to do this. When our dog was next titer tested for distemper, the reading remained low. The vet felt that this wasn’t going to ever change and continuing to repeatedly vaccinate was not going to provide him with any additional protection (nor did we want to keep doing it) so we decided to discontinue the testing (and vaccinating) process. Big learning moment for us and, happily, the precious dogs who share our lives today reap the benefits of this knowledge!
Nice, Karen, thanks for this. How interesting that this guy just didn’t budge with repeated distemper vaccinations. Further proof for the idea that vaccination ≠ immunization.
So glad you got out of that loop and others have benefitted from this experience.
We may never know, but I wonder if he’d have responded better to natural exposure, as I wrote about earlier, here.
Hi Dr. Will!
I just recently found your site, but i’m not new to Natural Rearing. I had 2 dogs which i never vaxed or used any flea/tick/hw poisons with. Then i got a Rat Terrier pup 15yrs ago that i bought from a PR breeder. He had been vaxed, dewormed whole nine yards. When he arrived, he was skin and bones and had a nasty case of diarrhea. I put him on the best kibble at the time, but he still had the runs and soon, projectile vomiting. I tried all sorts of foods..cheap, canned, super expensive (what i fed my other two dogs.) And did fecals weekly. Tried Albon for coccidia..he was dying. So i got on the net and found BARF. Couldn’t possibly hurt, so i ordered 50lbs of meat, bone and veggie/fruit mush. In the meantime, that night i went and picked up a pack of bone in chicken thighs. Came home, gave my pup, Tyson, a thigh. He gobbled it down and i waited..15, 30, 45 minutes..no vomit! The next morning gave him another (plus my female RT, Hannah, and my Great Dane/Lab rescue who got like 5! ) A few hours later i took them out and Tyson pooped a perfect poop! Yes! I fed off the 50lbs of BARF mixes and everyone glowed with health. Tyson filled out and got his UKC conf champion title at 8 months! The judges raved about my dogs muscles, coat, teeth and health! One asked what kind of conditioning program i used to get them so solid, i told her ghey were crated all day and playdd ball for an hour every afternoon. Then asked what food i fed, it proudly said “a raw diet!” Luckily she had already given my girl BOB, cause the look of disgust on her face was almost audible!
I then raised Pixiebob cats, all rawfed and completely unvaxxed. My mentor used homeopathy and taught me all i know now. I still have my foundation queen who is 11 years old, and plays like a kitten. Only been to the vet once to be spayed at 7yo, after 4 litters of, 9, 7, 8, and, at 7 years old, 5 kittens! None vaxxed, all rawfed and several champions and regional winners.
However, with my current dog i did something stupid, still no idea what came over me. I found a good breeder (although PR), and got a beautiful Chesapeake pup. The day he came home he was done with pukrina puppy chow..and dove right into raw. He had got a parvo/distemper shot at 8 weeks and a kc intranasal. 4 days into his new home, he broke with a raging case of KC. I took him to the vet who told me it was KC and to just wait it out. He was fine in a week. Never had flea/tick/hw poison in/on him ever. He was to be my service dog, and was busy getting socialized daily, learning manners and obedience, was totally positively trained, was super happy, friendly, outgoing,confident, and a very smart pup. And then i did mistake #1…at 6 months, for no good reason, i had him violated with a rabies vax. Oh the hell i caused with that.
3 days later he was chewing on something he shouldn’t and i went to trade him up for a treat.. he whale eyed, growled and bite me severely when i went to trade him. He nearly took my finger off. I had emergency surgery to put the ragged mess of my finger back together. I was now scared of my sweet puppy! He also became very aggressive around his food and began humping everything around. I had a training session later that week and she saw my hand bandaged and asked what happened..i was crying telling her “he bit me!” Shes also a cert behaviourist so first she asked if i wanted to keep him. I wanted to but i was terrified of him, but i put so much time into him i decided to try and work things out. First, full vet exam. I suggested a vaccine reaction to which dr. Whitecoat said “impossible, vaccines are very safe, its just his hormones. Neuter him and he’ll be fine!” His bloodwork was fine so my trainer worked with me every week for 3 months (another cost to vaccination..expensive private sessions with a behaviourist!) At the end the aggression was better, but he was still humping everything and very resource reactive. I had planned to show him, but his work as a service dog was more important, so i made mistake #2… i decided to have him neutered. Since i’m disabled i got a free neuter voucher and scheduled the surgery for just past his 9 month birthday. The lady took his rabies certificate, copied it and put it in his chart. And i left my boy. That afternoon, i went to pick him up, and the lady handed me his rabies cert, and checkout papers, and said he’d be right up. I looked at the post op care and then for some reason looked at the rabies cert…it was dated THAT DAY! WTF!!! i demaned the supervisor and asked why was my puppy, who was JUST vaccinated for rabies 3 months prior REVACCINATED?!?! She said “oh, we just vaccinate everyone, just to be sure!” I screamed at her that he was being neutered BECAUSE of a rabies reaction! I grabbed my doped up pup and got home as fast as i could and called my cat breeding mentor and asked her for her homeopaths mentor’s name and contacted her. She worked with me and Peyton for a year and he was finally 99.5% back to himself. I will never bother with titers because no matter what they say, i’m NEVER VACCINATING ANYTHING again! Luckily, the only residual (visual anyways) reminder of his reaction is an occassional lip curl if he gets a hold of something hes not to have (of, yeah he has pica, too, since the rabies vax) and i just have to say “you want a cookie? Drop it!” And he spits it out and runs to the freezer to await his chicken foot! Thank you for putting this info out for people to learn! I just wish i would have heeded my own advice!
Wow, Jill, what a story. So much to learn there. I applaud you for sticking with it and getting so far back from the hell he descended into with rabies vaccinosis.
Thanks for sharing that story with us. It shouldn’t, but it still amazes me how much harm can come from just one rabies vaccination!
Now I know how your Rat Terrier got his name Tyson!!!
Actually Dr. Will, he got the name Tyson because when i’d pick him up he’d always chew on my ears! But yes, he is a “fighter!”
Sorry, that one was for you, Laurie!
How do you handle the fleas . Got cats here is Florida and they have been terrible. Have been feeding raw for a couple of years now. They are indoor/outdoor too. Have you ever tried the nematodes for the yards for the fleas.
Really want to avoid the Cheristan & Revolution .
See my most popular page, Bonnie: https://vitalanimal.com/non-toxic-flea-control/ Avoid the poisons like the plague!
I haven’t vaccinated my dogs for 4 generations. I’ve bred Australian Shepherds for over 20 years, and back when I vaccinated puppies with 5-in-1 shots starting at 8 weeks, I regularly lost puppies to parvo. Since I quit vaccinating and started feeding raw, I had 1 litter with 2 puppies that got parvo (verified by test). They were sick for 3-4 days. We gave them home made pedialyte along with bovine colostrum, and they bounced right back. I give several articles to every potential owner after they fill out my questionnaire. I tell them if they absolutely must vaccinate, to wait until 14-16 weeks and then give ONE vaccine for parvo/distemper. Call the vet a week in advance to make sure they carry it. Then, if they’re nervous or want proof the vaccine worked, have a titer test done 2 weeks later. I stress to them that their dog will be protected for life. I can’t guarantee that every puppy family follows my advice, but if even half did (and I’m sure it’s more than that), that means a lot more dogs leading healthy, long lives, and a lot more owners who will continue to use these methods with other dogs in the future, as well ad educating others.
Oh, Lynn, you’re a breeder after my own heart. Good on you. I hope other breeders learn from your parvo experience. You saw the results clearly. Parvo vaccine is well known to be immune suppressive. It’s why so many pups break with diarrhea after vaccination, often coming up coccidia positive. Or, as you say, getting parvo itself.
Thanks for inspiring us and keep your torch burning brightly.
Hi Will! New to your site but learning a lot already. So do parvo, what do you recommend? What Lynn said? In regards to parvo only, do ONE (no boosters?) of parvo/distemper at 14-16 weeks? Do puppies really need the 3 sets of shots that are normally recommended? Or just one of each type (one parvo/distemper, one rabies)?
I have two non vaccinated girls and the male is also non vaccinated. We had four pups a few days ago. If pups get parvo at what age would it be noticed and what do I look for if pups get parvo? Can the non vaccinated mom get parvo if the babies have it? Everyone has been on a raw diet for years. The pups are not vaccinated before leaving my home. Some of the new puppy owners vaccinate at 17 weeks and some are not vaccinating at all. How can parvo get into our home? When people visit they take off their shoes. They wash their hands before touching my pups and moms. If I suspect they have been to another home with animals then I have a robe they wear over their clothes. When pups visit the vet I have the first appointment of the day. I’m put in a room that is least used and I put a towel down on the scale and table. Is there any other precautions I can take and how will I know if parvo is present and at what age? Dr Falconer God Bless you for all that you do to help keep all anamials safe and teach others to do the same. ❤️
I have a 14 week old puppy and the breeder already gave distemper, adenovirus 2, parvovirus, parainfluenza 3x and lepto 2x. My vet gave her bordatella while she had coccidia. She’s finally getting back to normal after being treated with metranidazole and albon. Could I test for titers this early? I’d like to avoid over vaccinating as I think that has contributed to health issues with our previous dogs and 1 cat that died shortly after. I’ve got puppy on heart worm and flea and tick prevention also already (nexguard and heartguard). We live by farms and there is quite a bit of wildlife around our property.
Such an excellent article!!!
Thanks, Stacey. It started getting pretty long, so I was concerned I’d lose people, but I think the air needed clearing. Hope it’ll achieve that purpose!
Yes, you covered quite a bit Will -I think it had to be long 🙂
You are so awesome. Not only are you one of the top Doc’s in our country, you are quite a computer wiz. Your site is cherry.
I think some of the confusion for people comes from their
VETS telling them that there are specific numbers which must be present for a titer to be “protective” (case in point: distemper and parvo). Our dog came back with a titer just below the “mark” and I was told he didn’t have what was considered a “protective level”. Yet this doesn’t take into account immunity at the cellular level, and Dr. Schultz has stated that “There are no numbers associated with titers” and that he would prefer for ALL titer tests to simply be “yes” or “no” because of the rampant misunderstanding/confusion/misinterpretations of them….
At present we have no intentions of re-vaxxing for anything. We have a license and tag for Rabies titer…and even though we are moving to a different state, I have no issues with driving 3-4 hours back to get the same next year for our furfamily. He came in at 11:5 when the current standard is :5. The vet was shocked and said he didn’t think I’d have any trouble with a titer like that…..had to laugh because I KNEW it would be very high. Vets must not titer much for Rabies and really have no idea what is going on immunologically with the animals they keep “boosting”. So said and yes, so frustrating.
Ah, Jeri, you’ve unleashed Mistake #7! As it wasn’t directed in the comments on that FB post, I’d forgotten this.
Everybody get this? ANY sign of a titer means that animal has responded to the virus and the use of “protective” levels is largely meaningless (unless it’s for export, usually internationally).
Good catch, Jeri, and thanks for telling about Ron Schultz on this issue. I’d never heard this, and it’s a corroboration of what’s been in my mind for a long time now.
~Thanks Will, Great article & confirmation from what I’ve learned & yes<Dr Schultz is a trusted, great Scientist that I've been learning a lot from~Thrilled I found your site as to keep learning more for the sake of my precious pac of poms~
Your article is an affirmation of what I already know. I do go to a holistic vet who allows for us to follow the protocol we want, no vaccines. He recently forgot my knowledge I guess, and tried to slip in the need for a titer. One dog is near 13, the other is a no vax order from a neurologist after recovering from idiopathic tremor syndrome. I simply stated, “no, remember, I know even a low titer would not indicate they needed vaccinated. I will rely on memory cells to pick up if needed.”
This is great, Jane. I’m so glad you’ve stayed abreast of all this and understand it to the extent that you can be your elder dog’s champion and protector, even when your vet forgets.
Thanks for sharing this.
Thank you so much for clearing things up. We have two Rough Collies, a 5 month old and a 16 month old. Yes they have their “shots and do not want to give more. The 5 month old is ready for that rabies and do not want to give it, We live by a creek and yes we have skunks here in Texas. I guess I’m not understanding one thing, is he already immune to rabies or do we still give the one and no more.
It’s your call, ultimately, but it has to be a reasoned, firmly based in understanding of the disease, your environment, and your risks, both for your dogs and your family.
This page will help you make that decision. Stop back if you still have questions after you’ve digested it.
I no longer Titer test as I believe my dog has cell mediated immunity just as us humans do. When I did Titer he had such a high parvo Titer twice so he was exposed to it twice but never got it.
Nice, Wendy. He got that high parvo titer without being vaccinated for parvo, then?
What does your reply mean?