The Irreverent Vet Speaks out on What Vaccines Does Your Dog Really Need?
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Should You do Vaccine Titers?
A vaccine titer is a blood test that determines the presence of antibodies that develop in response to the vaccine. Since varying amounts of antibodies can be detected in different animals, titers are expressed in terms of ratios. Adequate levels of vaccine titers indicate that the pet does not need a booster vaccination at that time. Low titers indicate that vaccination will be necessary to provide immune protection. This is a method to determine if a dog needs vaccines.
Historically, the cost of doing this test is far greater than giving the vaccine and therefore most veterinarians and pet owners did not do them. However, with the increased risk of vaccine complications, this is a reasonable option.
How I Vaccinate My Dogs?
This is what I do. I understand the needs, benefits, and risks of vaccines.
For puppies – I give them a full vaccine series as described above and booster vaccines when they are one year of age. They are vaccinated for rabies as required by law (yearly or every 3 years depending on the state/county law). I do the minimum required by law.
For unvaccinated adult dogs – they receive two sets of vaccines 3 to 4 weeks apart including bordetella and the canine flu vaccine. They are vaccinated for rabies as required by law depending on the county/state law.
Adult dogs that were full immunized as puppies or young adults. Adult dogs receive vaccine booster every 3 years. They have yearly examinations and after they age of 7 –they have yearly blood work as well (which has nothing to do with vaccination – but is a way for me to evaluate their overall health). They are vaccinated for rabies as required by law (yearly or every 3 years depending on the state/county law). I do the minimum required by law.
Senior dogs in good health (large breeds over the age of 7 or small breeds over the age of 10) – receive vaccine booster every 3 years, yearly exams and yearly blood work. They are vaccinated for rabies as required by law (yearly or every 3 years depending on the state/county law). I do the minimum required by law.
Senior dogs with illnesses and on medications – For my senior dogs that are in poor health or on medications – to be honest – I don't vaccinate them except for Rabies (as required by law). They do receive exams and blood work twice a year (at least or more if needed depending on these health). I asked 5 other veterinarians with dogs – how they deal with their own dogs and they do essentially the same as outlined here
My Final Thoughts – What Vaccines Do Dogs Really Need?
You should discuss all vaccination programs with your veterinarian. Follow their recommendations based on your dogs risk. If you are not sure what your dog needs, consider vaccine titers. There is no real disadvantage of doing the titers other than the expense of doing them.
What are your thoughts? Email me
The Irreverent Vet is a columnist that regularly contributes to PetPlace.com. The goal is to add a balanced and alternative view of some controversial pet issues. As happens with all of us, veterinarians can't say what they really think without offending some clients. This commentary allows vets to say what they think and give you, the pet owner, the opportunity to consider another view. All opinions are those of the Politically Incorrect Vet and not the views of PetPlace.com and are not endorsed by PetPlace.com.