Titer Test - Is Your Dog Over Vaccinated?

By Karen A. Soukiasian

Most veterinarians are animal people. It may not be a conscious attempt to harm your dog, but let's face it; there is a lot of money to be made in vaccinating pets annually. A typical vial of rabies vaccine costs less than one dollar! How much did you pay the last time you got your dog a rabies shot? Do you do it every year? Maybe that's too often.

Many leading veterinary schools and veterinarians are acknowledging we may be doing more harm than good, by having our pets immunized annually. The old adage a little is good; more is better may not be true in this case. It has been found the immunity from some vaccines last over a year, depending on a number of factors, including the vaccine, breed, size, age and general health of the dog. Some veterinarians are now offering 3-year vaccinations.

The Titer Test, is a simple blood test, costing between $40 and $200, depending on your location or veterinarian. It can help determine whether your dog is really in need of additional immunization. The two vaccines most commonly tested are canine parvovirus (CPV) and canine distemper virus (CDV). The test will determine whether the antibodies already in your dog, will offer adequate protection or if they will need another shot.

There are two types of vaccines: modified live and killed virus or bacteria. The modified live has a short shelf life, is usually stronger, offers immediate protection, and is less expensive. However, it has been noted it may be probable to cause problems with puppies, ill, senior and pregnant dogs. The second type is killed virus or bacteria. They have a longer shelf life, tend to cause more allergic reactions, do not immediately produce immunity, and require more initial injections and booster shots. They are also more expensive.

The purpose of vaccinating our pets is to stimulate their immune system. It kind of wakes up the good little warriors in your dog's immune system, just in case the bad guys sneak in to attack them! The problem with that is, sometimes when there are too many warriors and not enough bad guys, auto-immune problems occur. The ever vigilant warriors start to attack each other!

Note: negative reactions from immunizations can happen immediately or take up to 45 days to appear. Keep in mind, when your dog received their shots, should symptoms appear.

One in ten dogs have an adverse reaction to customary annual vaccinations. Over vaccinating can exacerbate the problem. Common side effects of vaccination allergic reactions or over vaccinating include: anemia, lethargy, vomiting, tumor at injection site, breathing difficulties, lack of appetite, behavior changes, skin problems, such as excessive itching, swelling of the face, eye discharge, Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), anaphylactic shock (difficulty breathing, blood pressure drops, staggering, disoriented - severe emergency situation), seizures, liver/kidney failure, joint problems, fever and bruising.

Puppies under the age of 10 weeks should not be vaccinated. They are born with their mother's immunization. Vaccinations should be spaced out. Talk to your veterinarian. Don't rush things. For first time owners, caution should be used with certain breeds, such as Akitas, Weinmaraners, Great Danes, Dobermans and Rottweilers. They are identified to have a higher than average negative reaction to standard immunizations.

Bottom line: Before risking over vaccinating your dog, consider their age, size, general health, breed, lifestyle, and your geographical location. Weigh the risk to advantage factor. Consider the Titer Test.

Karen A. Soukiasian
Article by Karen A. Soukiasian
Karen A. Soukiasian, GOOD DOG! - DOG TRAINING and BED-n-BISCUITS dog boarding and training - Owner/Trainer, St. Augustine, Florida - AKC CANINE GOOD CITIZEN and S.T.A.R. PUPPY Evaluator. Visit my website at: www.freewebs.com/gooddogsite and www.bednbiscuits.webs.com.

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