VACCINE ALTERNATIVES FOR YOUR PET
In the last year much information has been published regarding annual vaccination for our companion animals, triggered mostly by the concern of adverse reactions related to over vaccinating such as thyroid problems and vaccine site cancers.
Now owners have an option regarding those yearly shots. You can check the level of immunity in the blood stream to diseases for which we vaccinate, instead of just getting the booster shot. This can be done by testing for serum antibodies, the part of the immune system circulating in the blood stream, which protects the body against foreign invaders, namely, bacteria and viruses.
Tests (referred to as antibody titer tests) have been developed for dogs and cats that can assess their immunity against canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, feline panleukopenia, calici and herpes viruses. Based on these test results (which require that a blood sample be taken) the owner, along with their veterinarian, can determine if revaccination is necessary.
It is important to realize that each dog and cat is unique and that individual response to previous vaccinations will vary. Just because your pet is up to date on vaccinations, it may not be protected. Checking the blood for antibodies against these specific viruses provides a scientific assessment as to the need for revaccination. It must be stressed, however, that proper vaccinations need to be given to puppies and kittens. Without these initial vaccinations little or no immunity will develop, and without the first set of puppy or kitten vaccinations, the blood tests are not accurate.
Research has provided veterinarians with reliable information regarding protective serum antibody levels. Seventy–five percent of dogs vaccinated six years previously still had protective titers to canine distemper virus. Likewise, it appears that cats retain high titers against feline panleukopenia virus (feline distemper) for at least six years and likely longer.
Blood should be drawn for serum antibody titers yearly for adult dogs and cats, or as dictated by previous results. Blood should also be checked 2-3 weeks after the last puppy or kitten booster vaccination to confirm that protective immunity has been stimulated. The blood sample is sent to a major laboratory, usually Cornell University. Results normally take one to two weeks. The cost for the blood test is typically two to four times the cost of the vaccination. But isn’t your pet worth it?
Please feel free to call our office if you have any additional questions regarding vaccinating your pet. We’ll be happy to help!