Boosters, titres & avoiding dangerous vaccines

I am relieved (I could have written “happy”, but honestly, “relieved” feels right) to report that Cooper had his first booster vaccinations and everything went well.

Actually, better than well. It felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders!

I decided to titre-test prior to vaccinations. Titre (sounds like tighter) is a simple blood test that shows the presence of antibodies for adenovirus (hepatitis), parvovirus and distemper. Any positive readings reduce the need for frequent (read, annual) boosters, thus the risk of over-stimulating pup’s system and causing serious problems.

There are two types of titre tests in the UK right now. The VacciCheck is a quick option that can be done within a couple of days, costs around £30 and shows a colour-chart for the antibodies rather than exact readings, and the comprehensive option priced around £90, which takes a week and comes as a report with numbers – the higher the numbers the better for the pup’s immunity.

We did both. Don’t ask… It’s a long story. The fact is that we ended up with two reports showing that Cooper still had enough antibodies for two of the three, but not the adenovirus. I admit, at this point my heart dropped because I was hoping for avoiding the core vaccine, however, our brilliant vet (I swear I could absolutely hug him for being so wonderful and knowledgable and not treating me like a neurotic idiot!) explained that the core vaccine we do this year will last Cooper for at least three years or more, depending on his next titre in two years.

He then gave us options for different brands to ensure I felt comfortable with the one he was using. Since I checked every single vaccine available under the sun, I recognised the one he mentioned straight away, so he proceeded.

Unlike our Oscar’s vets who never let us wedge in a single word or ever bothered giving us a chance to speak, ask and discuss, this doctor seemed to have time for everything, giving me an opportunity to really talk about my concerns, fears and even past experience with Oscar. Not only that he seemed genuinely interested in what I was saying, so it was a conversation, not a guidelines-powered monologue.

And I wanted to say here, just in case you are panicking about vaccinating your dog, that according to Cooper’s wonderful vet, no dog living in the UK permanently, without travelling abroad, require an L4 vaccine! The doctors are aware of the side-effects and do their best not to use the L4 unless it is vitally important due to travelling to Europe and countries known to have the new strains.

They do not recommend routine annual vaccinations either and advise on titre-testing whenever possible or simply not vaccinating for the core vaccines (parvo, adenovirus and distemper) more often than every 3 years after the puppy vaccine and first annual booster. Lepto needs to be done annually, but only for two strains and brands other than Nobivac or Canigen (the two contain Thiomersal, the mercury compound that can cause side-effects due to its toxicity).

You do not need to routinely vaccinate for the kennel cough either unless your dog goes into kennels, very young (puppy’s first year) or a senior. The rest of the canine population can get a kennel cough, but to them it is exactly the same as a common cold for humans, thus most can recover (and develop immunity for that particular virus!) on their own, and very few may need antibiotics.

A piece of good news that came as a relief is that the doctors are aware of the dangers and side-effects of the “bad vaccines” and the studies and research are happening as we speak. It is not easy for them because not every vet or dog owner would report their case to make the information available, so if your dog suffered as a result of vaccination, please report your story.

And please do not avoid vaccines all together! They are essential to keep our dogs healthy and preventing the spread of the disease! Think of all the diseases that could wipe out populations until we finally got the vaccines to control them. Think of a possibility of a dog-carrier of the disease potentially affecting many other dogs (lepto can spread through urine, which many dogs would sniff and lick!). Think that many diseases, while treatable, can affect your dogs’ health for life.

Vaccinate, but find a vet who will know how it should be done and avoid every butcher surgery more interested in financial gains than the health of our darling pets. I hope this little story will prove that the good ones are still out there. Not as many as the bad ones, but they certainly exist.