Titer Testing: Are You Wasting Your Money?

Titer tests? Ha, here's my wallet.

Titer tests? Ha ha, here’s my wallet.


I’m seeing a potentially dangerous trend among animal owners in pursuit of avoiding vaccinations, a laudable goal. That same trend can cost you needless money, so gather round, and let’s explore this.

Cheryl wrote in the comments to last week’s post:

One of my furbabies is a little Chihuahua named Ricco who has an enormous amount of skin issues and allergies. When I discovered he had been to about 4 different households in his life before me, I realized that his issues are more than likely due to vaccinosis. He is now slowly on the mend and all my furbabies now get yearly titers. (emphasis mine)

As I alluded to in my Fallacy of Titer Tests page, titers have value, but using the information from them wrongly will:

  • Hurt your animal
  • Hurt your pocketbook

The Dangers of a Little Knowledge

You are part of a growing community of people seeking to provide the best natural care to your animals. You want them to be Vital Animals, those glowing, well-balanced, fully free animals that bring you joy not only today and this week, but for many happy healthy years into the future. And, when it’s time for them to shuffle off their mortal coil, Vital Animals can usually do this at home, with ease, naturally, and without ERs or euthanasia solutions in the equation.
A large part of getting this glorious outcome depends on you walking the Natural Path, and taking responsibility for the animals in your care. It’s no longer in your best interests to turn that responsibility over to Dr. WhiteCoat, as he’s not on the same path, especially in the most important piece of health care you must decide: vaccinations.
Many of you have, rightly, sought to reduce or eliminate vaccinations after reading in various places that the common practice of repeatedly vaccinating your animal throughout her life is neither useful nor safe. One alternative that’s been offered to you is titer testing.

Titers: What, Why, and When?

Titer tests are blood tests that measure the level of antibodies your animal has made. Your dog goes in, gets a needle poked into a vein, blood is pulled into a syringe and it gets tested, usually in a lab but now perhaps, in your vet’s clinic. You pay anywhere from $40 to $200 to get some numbers on a piece of paper.
Many view these numbers as their “get out of vaccination jail” card. But I submit misreading these numbers may get you and your animal into trouble. Let’s dig in and try to avoid that.

The What: Numbers? I Don’ Need No Steenking Numbers!

The lab report comes back with numbers indicating the amount of antibodies your animal made against those diseases tested (usually canine distemper, parvo, rabies, or feline distemper).
The idea behind titer testing is that if your dog or cat or horse has antibodies against the viruses that threaten to cause disease, you can rest easy that protection exists.
That’s an immunologically sound thought. But only to a point.

The Why: Assessing Immunity

The reason these titers could be of interest is that the numbers on a titer test correlate pretty well with immunity. Immunity is resistance to disease. It’s what we’d like our animals to have, and it’s what we hope is the outcome of those much maligned things called vaccinations.
But:

Vaccination ≠ Immunization

Did you know this? It’s not common knowledge, even among many veterinarians. It’s often assumed that pumping the vaccine into your animal automatically means he’s now safe from the dreaded diseases that could kill him. Not so.
For example, if you vaccinate your pup at six weeks of age, or even younger, there’s about a 50:50 chance that no immunity will result to distemper or parvovirus. Why? Mom’s colostrum gave your pup antibodies against both, and those antibodies are preventing the vaccine from stimulating his own immunity. Mom’s protection is temporary though, and we need long term protection.
Many also think that immunity “runs out” on day 364 since the last vaccine was pumped in. When those postcards come, saying, “Beau is due for his vaccinations! Please call for an appointment today!”, it sets some people into a bit of a panic.
The act of squirting more vaccine under Beau’s skin is somehow thought to be akin to filling an empty reservoir.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
A truth in immunology is this:

Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal.”

And another truth, from the same veterinary immunologists:

Furthermore, revaccination…fails to stimulate…(further immunity)”

The When: Run a Titer When it Makes Sense

Save Your Money (and your pet!) by Not Running it When it Doesn’t!

It’s a given that titers have limits. Any immunologist knows this. They fail to measure a significant piece of immunity, called cell mediated immunity.
The most useful time to run a titer test is after your youngster has received her initial series of vaccinations. Especially if you’ve limited that series to just one or two vaccinations, the last being after 16 weeks of age. The odds are you’ve just conferred lifetime immunity to your youngster.
If you want to know how effective your vaccinations were in conferring immunity (i.e. did vaccination = immunization?), ask your vet to run a titer test a few weeks later.
Here’s what’s useful in assessing those numbers:
If there’s any measurable titer to the disease in question, your goal has been reached. Your youngster has actively made immunity to those viruses you had squirted in via vaccination. It doesn’t need to meet some standard of “protective” to be useful; it just has to be positive.
That indicates you are more than likely now the proud owner of an immune pet, and you can confidently say “No!” to more vaccines. For how long?
For life.

Falling Titers: Oh-oh or No Big Deal?

Testing yearly will eventually show titers that fall off. Does that mean immunity is gone and you’ve got to head in for a “topping up” of the immunity reservoir?
No!
(And stop thinking that a “reservoir” even exists. I actually hesitated writing this word, as I don’t want you to think this is in any way reality).
It only means the antibody levels are waning. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a waste to keep making more antibodies when there’s no exposure to more virus. In its wisdom, the vital force deems its work is done in this area, and stops pumping more antibodies into the blood.
But, the good news is this: cellular memory is still very likely present to the bad guy you vaccinated against and, should your buddy ever be exposed to this virus again, BOOM, the antibody production factory fires up and the titer rises once again, and rather quickly at that.
So, it’d be a mistake to equate a titer that’s fallen with a lack of protection, and a greater one to think you need more vaccinations to re-establish protection. Immunity is still there, quietly, watchfully alert.
[In the older guys, I like to add a nice immune boost in the form of transfer factors, just to be sure their immune systems are acting out of the greatest responsive intelligence. And perhaps that’s a subject for another blog post.]
Have you used titers? Does this info help? Maybe you’ve even seen this: your animal’s titers kept on increasing for years after you stopped vaccinating! That’s what happened to my colleague’s dog on testing rabies titers. Let us know in the comments.

54 Comments

  1. Kathy K on December 30, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    Dear Dr. Falconer, I have a kitten that was a foster to adopt from the animal shelter. He was given the FVRCP at 6 weeks, then at 12 weeks. At 16 weeks he received a Rabies shot and I thought he got the last booster, but just found out that they only gave him the Rabies. He is now 6 months old. When I called to get the third booster, my vet does not do titers and is telling me that I have to start the series all over again because the time has been too long since the first two shots. Can I get an online titer? A holistic vet I called in another state (none near me), said he was protected and didn’t need another shot, but my vet says that without the series they will say that he’s not fully vaccinated if I need to board him. I’m afraid to over-vaccinate. What do you think?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on December 30, 2019 at 7:35 pm

      Completely ill-founded advice. If you choose to, you can wait till one year old, maybe even later, and get a pronounced booster effect from the 16-week shot. Visit ProtectthePets.com with my colleague Dr. John Robb. Super reasonable on titers and he’ll explain the results clearly. Here’s another article on research showing “out of date” animals actually responded better to a rabies booster than those who were UTD. Oops!

  2. Margot Hoffman on October 25, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Dear Dr. Will Falconer:

    I have a Maltese mix male dog that just turned 5 years old. He has been diagnosed with Encephalitis, specifically to the brain. (GME) He is doing well so far with Cytarabine 200 mg/m sq = 44 mg (20 mg/ml) given by subcutaneous injection, given every 3 weeks. He is also being weaned from Prednisone at 2.5 mg. every other day. Beta Thym herbal tablets are replacing Prednisone according to the holistic Vet. He is being treated by a Neurologist with the chemo vaccines and Prednisone.

    The holistic Vet. did a titer per my request and Toby is 5 times over the antibodies for protection against rabies. She also prescribed brain inflammation supplements which I ordered off the Internet, the brand “Designs For Health” and I detox his liver and kidneys with Amber Technology drops. He also gets immune supported supplements as well.

    Previously, when this started he had the full head tilt, body tremors, pacing, and other symptoms. The symptoms have gone away, except pacing when he’s hungry. I have him on a steamed raw diet. He is 2 pounds underweight, but active and playing with his dog playmate. The holistic Vet. wants Toby at 9 pounds; he is 7. My holistic Vet. will NOT write an exemption letter for no more rabies vaccines. She said “what would I say”? I was just stunned. I stated, I would think you would say it’s your opinion that this dog is not healthy with a brain disease and that he should not be vaccinated. She still won’t write it. I don’t know if I can get the Neurologist to write it for me. I will ask him the next time I take my dog for the chemo vaccine. I don’t understand why my holistic Vet. refuses to write a waiver for a sick dog? I don’t understand totally the rabies laws and how the titers work with this and what I can do to protect Toby. I also have a female Maltese mix and she is 1 year and 8 months. I want to protect her as well. She is 5 times over the amount of antibodies to protect against rabies.

    Thanks Much!
    Margot Hoffman
    Colorado

    • Will Falconer, DVM on October 25, 2019 at 10:13 pm

      This is malpractice. This Fauxlistic vet needs to be FIRED and told why. Unless she can provide proof that this dog, afflicted with brain disease no less, is considered healthy. That what the label demands: only for use in the healthy.

      And what part about vaccination vs immunity is she not understanding? You’ve got proof of immunity. Done.

  3. Mary Marseglia on October 21, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Although this is an old post, I had to comment because one of my best friends had her GSD’s titered and she called me in a panic. One of her dogs came back with low antibodies & also she did titer fo Lyme Disease too and it came back “positive” that he had Lyme. I told her titers are not the be all & end all and that her dogs are extremely healthy and she actually finally listened to me and started feeding Species Appropriate Raw Diet without plant matter/veggies which also harms your pets pancreas by making it over work to produce more enzymes to break down plant matter. So I told her not even to worry, and that her dogs immunity is protected for life and that I highly doubt he actually has Lyme disease either. The vet wants to put him on 30 day round of antibiotics!!! Yikes. I told her don’t do it! If he truly does have it, there are homeopathic remedies that will cure him and not kill his immune system with a bombardment of 30 days of antibiotics. She makes enough money so I told her if she really wanted to feel safe & prove her allopathic vet to be incorrect about the titers for low antibodies & also having Lyme Disease, to wait 30 days and do the tests again.
    She decided she trusted me but wanted to prove the vet wrong. So 30 days later she had the titer tests done for both antibodies & Lyme Disease. They both came back that the dog was absolutely FINE! His antibody titer came back normal and he did NOT have Lyme Disease either.
    I do not know if the blood work was done in the vets office as many do their own blood work for many things, or if it was sent out to local lab? Either way it doesn’t matter. If she had not listened to me, the vet wanted to give a TOXIC 6-in-1 combo vaccine to this dog(which these are horrible as it is but thank God he didn’t say 7-1; 8-1 or 10-1!!!) and he wanted to pump this GSD up with 30 days of antibiotics for Lyme Disease which would had done more damage than good!
    Just take care of your dogs & cats, feed them S.A.R.F.D. if you have adopted and they have been pumped up with not only numerous combo vaccines & rabies(over & over again depending on the animals age) & fed horrible diets in shelters & rescue groups, spayed/neutered WAY TOO YOUNG(also causing damage to the body) you can detox their bodies as best as possible with homeopathic remedies(don’t be surprised that the damage is already done and not even homeopathy can cure some or most of the damage done to the immune system & certain organs) contact an excellent true Holistic vet that practices Classical Homeopathy and hope & pray you keep them as healthy & vital as possible and don’t d anymore vaccines!! They are not necessary, not even rabies(laws or not, you are your pets advocate and you can fight rabies–the vet is not the law bu they will try to make you feel like they are)

  4. Amanda B on December 5, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Any advice for businesses that require UTD vaccinations, or in my case, accepting the titers for what vaccines they cover? I’ll be attending the Starmark Dog Training Academy there in Hutto, TX next month and they want vaccinations current within 2 weeks of school start date. That includes DHLPP, bordetella, and of course rabies. Can you even titer for bordetella? I know the vaccine doesn’t prevent it anyway. And i’m trying to figure out what all they’ll clear me on, the only titer this local vet offers me is a parvo/distemper titer

  5. Stevie Cobb on August 22, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Titer tests do not distinguish between the immunity generated by vaccination and that generated by natural exposure to disease agents. A dog may have developed immunity to a viral disease by receiving a vaccine against the disease, by being exposed to the disease in the natural environment and conquering it, sometimes without having demonstrated any symptoms of exposure to the disease, or by a combination of the two. Therefore, titer tests really measure both the “priming of the pump” that comes from vaccines, and the immunity resulting from natural exposure to disease during a dog’s lifetime. Only an indoor dog that has been totally sequestered from the natural environment is likely to have developed all of its immunity from vaccinations. Although the magnitude of immunity protection received by vaccination only is usually lower than by vaccination plus exposure, it doesn’t matter how your dog developed its strong immunity to specific viral diseases, as long as the immunity is present. By “titering” annually, a dog owner can assess whether her dog’s immune response has fallen below adequate levels. In that event, an appropriate vaccine booster can be administered.

  6. Fran Godfrey on August 17, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Thank you for such a useful article. I had my puppy vaccinated at 14.5 weeks and titre tested just over three weeks later. Parvovirus was high positive and distemper low positive (+2 over the threshold of 5). These were both done on an immunocomb test. But adenovirus (using ab titre by VNT) said less than 5 with a further comment saying “antibodies are not detected”. I am happy with the parvovirus and distemper result but appear to have no response to the adenovirus. But I can’t revaccinate just for this as it comes complete with distemper and parvovirus. I’m not sure how common hepatitis is in the uk and whether I should be worried. My instinct is to leave it and retest after a few months to see if he is producing immunity naturally (which he’s unlikely to do if the disease is rare)

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 17, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      Hi Fran,
      It’d be hard to get excited about immunity lacking to a disease rarely seen. I would focus on raising a healthy, vital animal, and trust that you’ll have a dog with an intelligent immune response to the challenges that his way.
      Thanks for stopping by from across the pond!

  7. Avery on August 15, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    What to do when titer numbers drop? “Believing” the dog still has immunity is not going to be enough. How do we elevate the numbers again to get good titer results to use in place of vaccination records when required?

  8. Darci Muchaels on August 15, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    I don’t vaccinate. I feed raw. No flea or tick chemicals either. No vhemicals in my house or yard. Homeopathy, acupuncture and all natural what ever else we may need! 🙂 I have a vet who supports me but he’s not technically holistic.
    My 10 year old lab had her first set of puppy shots before I got her. (Which was when she was 6) and she has re current itchy skin dry brittle yet oily feeling fur. The acupuncture has helped. But this spring and summer we have had up and down weather and I can’t seem to get on top of her itchy skin. I think it’s vaccinosis. It is sure hard to fight! My poor girl. Thankfully her spirits are good. But when she’s absolutely clear she’s like a different dog!

  9. DeniseD on August 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

    This is great information. After going down the path of over-vaccinating my oldest Chi (10 in Oct). We learned the hard way, by age 4 he severely reacted to any vaccine he was given and I finally realized I’m in charge not Dr Whitecoat no more for my boy! Honestly never did the licensing route as I think it is silly and unnecessary. Our 4 y/o Chi has only rec’d one rabies vaccine after getting the puppy shots. When we got our new kittens last year, they had their kitty shots and no more. they are inside cats what do they need vaccines for? I have also learned that when I take them into my traditional vet I can just “tell” them when they rec’d a vaccine and they will note the records as I have a TCVM & reg vet. It is sad that all these rules have reduced us to not being completely truthful but I think all of us do what is necessary to protect our babies. We lost a Pom in 2010 at 7 y/o to renal failure, she was so young and in hindsight vaccinations & kibble diet were her downfall. This journey with my pets has opened my eyes to so many things that we grew up with as “fact” and “have to do”. I hope more people realize the masses are not always right and its ok to say “NO” to a vet. they are not God and they do not always know what is best for YOUR baby.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

      Hi Denise,
      Thanks for sharing your path with us. It is indeed a shame when we have to lie to keep loved ones safe. I did so to keep our unvaccinated, wildly healthy kids in school.
      We have to do what we must, as you say.

  10. Mary on August 14, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    I lost my 8 year old Doberman over 11 years ago to lymphoma that was a direct reaction to vaccinations. I was going to board him and they required parvo and distemper annual proof. We separated the vaccinations and planned to give them a month apart. After the first vaccination, his lymph nodes enlarged within a few days. Biopsy came back as ‘reactive’. Prednisone brought them down to normal size. So a month later we gave the other vaccinate. Lymph nodes enlarged again, but this time the biopsy came back as lymphoma. From that event on, I have only given the initial puppy and one adult shot, then nothing. Rabies is difficult as my state requires it every three years by law. But I refuse to vacinate for rabies after they turn 8. I just did a titer on my boy turning 11 through Hemopet, and the comment said he has very good levels. I wish all states and counties accepted titers, it would be so much healther for our dogs.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      Wow, Mary, that’s a remarkable story.
      Most of my clients end up opting to fulfill the “letter of the law” by getting one rabies vaccine, and then quietly stop, and drop out of the system that would damage their animals. Rabies is clearly one of the most likely to confer lifetime immunity with one vaccination given over the age of 4 months.
      Best to you going forward. We’re with you!

      • Catherine on March 11, 2018 at 4:45 pm

        What do you do when the veterinarian refuses to treat your animal without a rabies vaccine? The excuse is: they might get bit. I had one cat with infected/blocked bladder, age 16. Rabies vaccine requested prior to surgery. Decision had to be made on the spot or he would die of his blockage. He was sick with an infection and a blockage!!! When the subject of vaccines came up again (not rabies) I flatly denied as he was then CKD and on sub-q fluids, and old.

        • Will Falconer, DVM on March 12, 2018 at 2:39 am

          First, the easiest answer, Catherine: FIRE THAT VET! That’s utter lameness and actual malpractice if you bring a sick animal for treatment and they refuse w/o vaccinating! Every vaccine, rabies included, is only for use in the healthy animal.
          “They might get bit.” Yeah. And?
          What’s the logic there, exactly? If they give a rabies shot on the spot and then get bit, they won’t get rabies? Or your animal is rabid until it gets that next shot and then it no longer is???
          If you continue to give money to crazy practices like this, they go on damaging animals. It’s up to each one of you, dear readers, to vote with your pocketbooks. This is the only way to effect change on a grand scale. Anyone with thinking like this deserves not another nickel from you.

  11. Rosemary Hoffman on August 14, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Great explanation, thank you.
    While antiviral vaccines apparently confer lifelong immunity, antibacterial vaccines do not. This mean that those living in areas with active leptospirosis infestations do need to consider the risks associated with vaccinating against the newer strains vs not vaccinating. There are no easy answers in that situation.

  12. Karen Thompson on August 14, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I thank you for this article— I learned something new about dropping titer numbers & immunity!
    We had a beautiful black lab named Kody. He had not had vaccines in awhile. I had titers done on everything but rabies & had him revaccinated (for rabies) in October 2011. 8 days later he had 2 Grand Mal seizures within a few hours. Long story short— he had developed a brain tumor & died 14 months later.
    The vet claims it had nothing to do with the vaccine. I don’t believe that. I will never do that to another dog. I will check titers & that’s it. We still miss our beautiful boy. He was 9 & 1/2 when he died. The youngest ANY of our dogs have ever passed away— and we’ve had some big guys:) (80+ pounds)
    Karen

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 14, 2013 at 11:33 am

      Thanks for this example, Karen. All too common, I’m afraid, and those who try to find comfort in “I’m only doing rabies, it’s the law!” please take heed. I’ve seen a lot of damage done from this idea.
      In Kody’s case, he illustrated the relationship of a nervous system virus (rabies makes its home in the brain, changes behavior to allow biting, and so spreads to others) and nervous system disease (convulsions). I’m so sorry you had to go through this and lose your nine year old dog.
      If Kody’s experience informs just one other dog owner to avoid one more unnecessary vaccination, he will not have died in vain.

      • Renee on July 17, 2017 at 2:39 pm

        Thanks for this comment. Our 2 healthy indoor only cats had their kitten shots before coming to us… as we adopted both of them through rescue orgs. Our all-knowing state of course requires the full service of vaccinations before these poor little babies can be adopted 🙁 but now that they are safely in our care we have paid for the expensive full set of titers on each of them (at the Vet’s insistence) and he no longer pushes the issue of any further vacs. However, we are moving in a few weeks to a new city and county. The trip will be too far to continue seeing our current Vet. I interviewed a new Vet in the new city and am pleased that we will be great partners in my pet’s healthcare. But, we will continue to not be pressured into unnecessary rabies vacs just to comply with city license laws. The Vet says the city won’t accept titer test results in lieu of rabies vacs… so law breakers we will be I guess. It’s unfortunate, but I’d rather be that than in the heartbreaking position of your original poster above…

  13. Petutchy on August 14, 2013 at 8:33 am

    A very well balanced analysis of the situation. Great article Dr. Will Falconer.
    I will share in Petutchy’s FB.

  14. Prentiss on August 13, 2013 at 9:41 am

    We lost our wonderfully intelligent fun and loving Ally, a Standard Poodle, about six weeks ago at age eight. We think she had immune mediated hemolytic anemia. Her body was destroying her red blood cells and she was unresponsive to medications given by our conventional vet. They thought she had perhaps a form of bone cancer. She did have Addison’s and was on Percortin, so maybe her system was compromised, anyway. However, after reading what you have written, I’m convinced she needn’t have died if we had stayed away from the vaccination schedule and pesticides recommended we use on her. We are going to bring home a SP puppy soon, we hope, and expect to treat him as you have recommended. He is, as is our resident almost 16 year old SP, on the raw diet, so we only have to incorporate your guidelines for vaccinating and titering. Thank you for giving us a way forward with our new family member. I don’t want to put another dog through what Ally went through and for us to experience another too early very painful loss. Gabby continues to look for her sister in her old haunts.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 13, 2013 at 11:58 am

      Hi Prentiss, and thanks for stopping in with your sad story. A real shame to loose a family member, especially at an early age like Ally. One of my all time favorite breeds, too. I’m sorry for your loss.
      If, in addition to leaving a hole in our hearts, the dying animals also inspire us to change for the benefit of the next member to join the family, these brave souls have served us greatly. It’s nice to dedicate our efforts to the memory of one gone before, vowing to take a new trail this time out.
      All the best with Gabby and your newbie.
      WF

  15. Will Falconer, DVM on August 9, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Hi Virginia,
    Like so much of biology, there’s no one right answer here, but most of my clients do much like you did, and just quietly “drop out” of the licensing system. They know they’ve done their part for society, having vaccinated their animal a time or two for rabies, and the odds are extremely high the resulting immunity is life long. So, they stop, cautious to not cause harm.
    in another post’s comments recently, I mentioned a long lost client who wrote me recently, telling me that she followed my recommendations from 10-15 years ago so fully that she opted to never, not once, vaccinate her show bitch. Fed her balanced raw food, avoided pesticides, and showed her right up to championship status. With no vaccinations!
    So, there are ways to navigate all this. We just have to be creative and share with each other what’s working. We are a large group of intelligent people on this path! Every single success will help someone else achieve similar success, so let’s keep talking!
    Share success! There’s plenty to go around.

    • virginia on August 9, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      I sure would like to hear from people who have bypassed training facilities with no vaccinations. That seems to be the first thing they ask for when you enroll. I have checked all the training establishments within a 50 mile radius of where I live and they all require it. Not only the regular standard ones, but kennel cough also, every 6 months!!!! You got to be kidding me. the KC vaccine 6 years ago was the reason I even started on this journey. Did everything according to all we were brought up with and a month after my dog’s KC vaccine I took to first shows and she came home with KC. That started me wondering why the dog had got it when we are told to get this vaccine and it protects them. Dog has not had a single vaccine since, and that dog is an AKC champion and a UKC grand champion. I have been lucky to get around the rabies documentation for a long time, but find myself in a situation where I have to produce documentation. So if anyone out there has anyway of doing this, please enlighten me.
      Thanks for the reply.

      • Avery on August 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm

        Most training centers will accept titers and if you have a conversation with them about your vaccination policy and your dog is healthy then will usually make an exception. Their main concern is a sick dog bringing something into class. Trainers are dog lovers and chances are they may even feel the same way that you do but have not moved in that direction yet. It could be an opportunity to enlighten them.

  16. virginia on August 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I love the articles you write and have been on a “no vaccine” journey for about 6 years now. My dogs are in the care of a homeopath and I avoid convention medicine at all costs unless its a total emergency. My question to you is just how do you get around the laws? I do believe the laws pertaining to animals are not there to protect anyone, rather keep them ill. In order to train at any facility you have to have proof of vaccination, and trying to get a waiver of any kind is almost impossible. I tried to get a rabies waiver for a dog that was 11 years old with multiple problems only to be turned down. I simply did not register her in my county. Told them the dog had passed away and then made sure there were no animal control vehicles near my house before I let her out in the front. That was not so hard, but what do you do with animals that you expect to live quite a few years? So many questions, so little time.
    Thanks
    Virginia

  17. maria segreto on August 7, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Thank you for this information. Even though I knew about Titers Vs Vaccines I didn’t know that not having immunity against one of the big bad wolves simply means that the body doesn’t need any period!!
    Nature is very wise, we should start listening more to it !!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 7, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Hi Maria,
      Listening to nature will never steer us wrong, but I’m not sure what you mean by “the body doesn’t need any period” — immunity? or vaccinations? or?
      Please clarify that. I want your charges to be immune to the big bad wolves. There’s more than one way to get there.
      Thanks for stopping by.

      • maria segreto on August 7, 2013 at 11:53 am

        Dr. Falconer,
        I was referring to this comment “It only means the antibody levels are waning. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a waste to keep making more antibodies when there’s no exposure to more virus. In its wisdom, the vital force deems its work is done in this area, and stops pumping more antibodies into the blood”.
        What I meant about not needing any period, I meant if there is no virus , there is no antibodies needed which is crucial when reading titer results.
        Thanks again,
        Maria

        • Will Falconer, DVM on August 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm

          Ah, perfect. No antibodies after some years of no exposure, right. We just need to know that doesn’t mean immunity is gone.
          Thanks Maria.

  18. Gordon Driscoll on August 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Personally speaking…
    Our 7-year-old Chihuahua, received her 3rd Rabies Vaccination just before her 6th Birthday…and almost didn’t see her 7th. Within a few days of receiving the ‘shot’, she was reduced to a scratching, writhing, running in circles, mess of a Canine…
    At first, we thought she’d gotten into something…till we realized…we don’t have anything around to get into…and finally deduced it was the shot.
    I will spare the details of the mishaps that followed, due to ‘Conventional Veterinary Medicine’, and their “Protocols” … but thankfully…we found a Homeopathic Vet, and within days, our little Girl, came back from the brink…
    All I ‘will’ say is, if you’re Animal ever has a reaction…the last thing you want to do , is allow a Cortisone Shot…it will kill, or near kill your Pet.
    Let it be known also…Your Vet will never ‘own it’ when it comes to the responsibility…they will just keep repeating their Mantra…”We did everything within the protocol of the condition”…meanwhile…Your Pet, and you will have gone through a living Hell.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      Oh, Gordon, I’m glad you had the outcome you did. Would that she wouldn’t have had to go through this at all, but the bright side is, the reaction came rather quickly post vaccine and homeopathy turned it around rather quickly, from the sounds of it.
      Imagine the level of denial that comes when the furious itch doesn’t begin till a month post vaccination! That’s far more common than a few days, unfortunately. And it’s the large reason that conventional medicine fails to see the ill effects of this procedure.
      Thanks for your Chi story. I take it you’re determined not to repeat that shot again, correct? How are you going to get around the law that threatens her health?

  19. Nancy Hendrix on August 5, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Hi Dr. Falconer,
    Thank you so much for the wonderful article! A few years back I had my two boys titered at Hemopet. Here in the midwest it pretty uncommon still to titer rather than vaccinate over and over. I have a boy with allergies and some major skin issues. Unfortunately I learned at his expense that over vaccination causes disease. He is doing well with a raw diet and avoiding exposure to household chemicals, etc. I have recently found them a Holistic Vet as well. One of only about three in my area. I do have to comment that I recently inquired to Dr. Dodds (at Hemopet) about having the boys titered again. She told me it was not necessary. I love a vet who values our companion animals (who otherwise have no voice) over their pocket book.
    Thank you Dr. Dodds and Thank you Dr. Falconer!!!

  20. Rebecca on August 4, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    My schnauzer has food allergies and IBS. Currently he is eating Hills z/d as everything else appears to make him very ill. I don’t like this food but have tried various types of natural, grain free foods, nothing worked. I am wondering if much of his condition is related to his reaction to vaccinations. He has broken out in hives with the vaccinations and has to have Benedryl. If he doesn’t have shots, he can’t go to play day which he loves. I am torn!!!
    Can anyone help?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 5, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Hi Rebecca,
      I’ve written a page about this, actually. Your dog is being vaccinated while he’s sick, i.e. with skin allergies and IBD. There’s a word for this.
      It’s called malpractice.
      You either need to get your vets on that same page and have them write your play day place a letter of waiver, or you need to change vets to someone who sees the reality of this situation. It’s inexcusable to continue to vaccinate a sick animal. And, from other pages on my site, you’ll see that he’s not gaining further immunity from each vaccination he gets, and they are adding to his allergic problems by continuing this malpractice.
      Best of luck with this difficult situation, but something needs to change here.

      • Esther on August 1, 2018 at 5:54 pm

        I realized this was written in 2013, we are now past July 2018, six years since you wrote it is malpractice to vaccinate a sick dog. I belong to more than 20 groups in FB and I see this more often that you would like. A sick dog or a dog who had a reactions in the past given vaccines using Benadryl, it is so upsetting. Just a couple of days ago a two years old dog die. Poster didn’t say it was autoimmune hemolytic anemia, but I suspect it was, she posted he needed a blood transfusion or he would die. Her original post was asking for help, dog wasn’t doing well after rabies vaccine, the veterinarian had given a rabies vaccine with Benadryl knowing pretty well that the previous year he has had a reaction, you heard correctly the previous year, never mind rabies vaccine is required every 3 years by law. And on top of this she has given DHPP 2 weeks prior to the rabies shot. Again never mind you don’t need to keep repeating these only one will give immunity if you are going to give any at all. This happened here in USA in ILLINOIS. It is outrageous, that veterinarian IMO deserves her license taken away from her. There are numerous cases I see veterinarians vaccinating unhealthy animals and this malpractice keeping going on

    • Susan Jordan on August 12, 2013 at 1:30 am

      Rebecca, I will let Paddy come for play day, and also boarding, without any further vaccinations. I’ve changed my thinking on a lot of dog related items in the past year. I just recognized you from your post of your Schnauzers symptoms, and of course your name. Kiss the PaddyCake……

      • Will Falconer, DVM on August 12, 2013 at 8:07 am

        Dear Susan,
        You can’t imagine how my heart is soaring right now. Your mind change is what I’m hoping will spread to everyone who boards, grooms, has play day facilities, and finally, to Dr. WhiteCoat.
        It’s so very necessary that we all take a deep breath and rethink this immunity vs vaccination question. It will make a huge difference in the health and vitality of so many animals, the creatures we all love and would never want to hurt.
        My hat is off to you.

        • Traci on February 17, 2017 at 2:19 pm

          I’ve run a small rural boarding kennel for over 30 years and maintained the same policy (it also gives me a chance to start up a conversation and get people thinking and learning!).
          I require a healthy, parasite-free dog or cat coming through the front gate or they are turned away. No vaccines required! I also inform each new client of the policy and if they aren’t comfortable they are free to book elsewhere. I’ve never had anything more than an undetected flea or tick here and there 🙂

  21. Pat Parker on August 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    I am new to this but normally have stopped vaccinating my dogs when they hit about 8 even before I started to get a little smarter, just a “feeling” i had. so when I sign up to do the rally obedience and they require current vaccinations, I am assuming this would be a good time to do a titer if they accept that…..not wanting to ask dumb questions, I feel a bit awkward being new to this site, but I do have something like this coming up. I’d really like to do something like this, but it seems like everyone requires vaccinations. If it comes to that, I will do my own little thing in my own back yard, but my guy would just love doing this. so would I. any input? thanks so much. Pat

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 4, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      Hi Pat,
      I recently had an email conversation with an old, old client I hadn’t heard from for years. She raised a show dog, took her through enough shows in various states to attain a championship of some status (I’m unfamiliar with what this takes, but it was a lot of competition in a lot of places).
      Came to find out she had, after learning of the dangers of vaccines and the benefits of raw balanced diet, completely avoided *all* vaccinations, fed the bitch a raw diet, avoided the usual flea toxins, and her dog had many shows and many wins! Completely unvaccinated!
      So, where there’s a will, there’s a way. When I was growing up, we had a saying: “Just walk in like you own the place.” I suspect something like that, rather than pleading to have a titer accepted, will get you quite far.
      These words are often useful: “She’s current on her immunizations.” That’ll be true from the first vaccinations onward, according to the immunologists. If you own that truth, it’ll be hard to keep you and your dog out of where ever you’d like to bring him.
      Best of luck. And welcome to the Natural Path. We’re glad to assist you. Everyone’s victories in this makes it easier for the next to be victorious, and we need to share our stories of what works.

    • Susan on August 5, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      The county I live in takes the titer and a letter from the vet for licensing and it was good for three years

      • Will Falconer, DVM on August 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm

        Pretty enlightened county, Susan, what state are you in?
        Most of my clients end up dropping out of the licensing world as it usually only comes at the cost of repeated, unnecessary and potentially harmful vaccinations. You may want to start planning your exit strategy, as one day, the titers will fall off, and then what?
        Thanks for stopping by.

  22. Cheryl Fralick on August 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    I was always under the impression that titers were necessary if I chose not to vaccinate; however, looking back on my original comment I realize now that the main reason for having the titers done was more for my vet’s office than for me or my dogs. No more! Thanks again for wonderful information.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 4, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      I can only imagine, vaguely, what might have been the reason for Dr. WhiteCoat’s office to make a recommendation like this 😉
      Welcome to the real world, Cheryl. A little bit older, a lot wiser going forward.
      I’m glad it was helpful.

      • Joanne on March 22, 2016 at 6:15 pm

        Hi there,
        We are thinking of possibly relocating to Austin tx but am concerned about the rabies laws as they do not allow for exemptions. How does one get around this in Austin tx? I have two black labs one is 4 never vaccinated and super healthy the other is 7 and followed the breeders recommendation of minimal vax one at a time and only for puppy but he still developed issues which are 95% better today. He has not been to a vet in 6 years and my 4 year old has never been to a vet. Both are raw fed and raised on homeopathic or herbal remedies when needed. What is the situation in Austin tx for natural rearing and non vaxed dogs?

        • Bob on May 6, 2017 at 3:21 am

          Did I miss the good doctor’s reply to Joanne’s question? I, too, have recently moved to Austin, TX and love to know the answer to her question.
          Thanks

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