An Alternative Approach to Vaccinations (By Dr. Lorri Mitchell)

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Vaccination is a controversial subject in both the human and animal world. The dangers of an unprotected individual succumbing to disease need to be balanced against the risk of infrequent side effects from an approved vaccine. We have valid concerns about what vaccines should be administered and how often they should be given.

 

At Ocean County, Fischer and New Prospect Veterinary Hospitals we strive to stay current with the ever-changing world of vaccine recommendations for your pet. In past years, adaptation to new research and guidelines has resulted in several changes to keep our patients safe and protected. These include:
-moving to a three year interval for adult dogs getting the Distemper combination vaccine as new research showed they did not always need it yearly
-similarly, adult cats also get their Distemper combination vaccine every three years now
-we now use an improved Rabies vaccine for cats that has less additives and is therefore less reactive for them

In addition to the above, we recognize that each pet is unique and evaluate them at their yearly well-visit to determine which vaccines are best recommended for them. For example, an outdoor barn cat will have different risks than a strictly indoor-only solo cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or a toy poodle that lives alone in a city setting will have different risks than a beagle or retriever who hikes and hunts. OCVH, FVH & NPVH veterinarians want to know the lifestyle your pet leads so we can help you make the right decisions for their well care.

Some of you may be familiar with the term “vaccine titer” (pronounced “tighter”) test. These tests have been around for a while but more and more pet owners are having these tests performed instead of boosting vaccines annually. They are available for some vaccines but not all. Most commonly, titers are run for dog Distemper, Parvovirus and Adenovirus (Infectious Canine Hepatitis).

What is a titer test?

A titer test is a simple blood test that allows us to measure how much antibody (a protein produced by the body in response to a foreign material, either natural disease or a vaccine) is in the animal’s bloodstream. From research we know what levels of antibodies are needed for protection. Animals with protective levels in the bloodstream will be able to successfully fight off the disease without the need for revaccination that year. This gives us an alternative to repeatedly vaccinating pets when they actually do not need it.  Research has shown that many adult dogs can maintain protective antibody titers to Distemper, Parvovirus and Adenovirus for more than four years and in some dogs even longer. The problem is we don’t know which dogs can do that and which dogs need more frequent boosters.

We are excited that we are now able to offer this alternative to the Distemper/Parvovirus/Adenovirus vaccine for your dog at our facility. We will be running the tests weekly and will call you with results. If your pet has a positive titer then there is no need to give the vaccine. If your pet has a negative titer then we will recommend a vaccine booster.

For more information on the test go to www.vaccicheck.com.

Other uses for the Vaccicheck test would be to test your puppy two weeks after they complete the puppy series to determine whether they have mounted adequate immunity or whether they need an additional booster. Or if you adopt a dog and are unsure if it had received the Distemper vaccine you could titer test them to see if one is needed.

Titer tests are not available for Bordetella, Leptospirosis or Lyme vaccines. These diseases are not viral and so create a different immune reaction. These vaccines continue to be recommended yearly for protection, if your pet’s lifestyle warrants it.  Rabies vaccine titers are available at outside labs but in NJ dogs are still required to have the vaccine by law. Even if they have a positive titer to the Rabies vaccine, it will not be recognized as equivalent to the proof of current vaccine by the animal control authorities.

What about cats? The same company that offers the titer test for dogs that we use will be coming out with a similar one for cats shortly. We hope to be able to offer it for your feline companion soon.

The lifestyle of each pet is different and all of our doctors are prepared to tailor your pet’s care to their individual needs for maximum protection and comfort.

 

Lorri Mitchell DVM

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