Take the dog to the vet, do what the vet says. I didn't even realize that there was anything else I could have been doing.
The vets go to school, don't they? How can I add anything to that?
Two years ago I received a brutal wake-up call. Five years of frequent vet visits didn't do anything for Jasmine's well-being! Instead, issues had accumulated to the point when things simply fell apart!
Faced with the situation as it were I realized two things:
- Not all vets were created equal
- It was time to take charge
First thing on the agenda at that time was figuring out how to deal with Jasmine's torn cruciate ligaments. Then tackling other issues one at the time.
Vaccinations were at the end of a very long list.
As it wasn't the most pressing issue in the past two years, I continued with the traditional annual boosters as directed.
This summer, however, things have settled down enough that I had time to pay more attention to the matter.
After reading several books, including The Nature of Animal Healing by Dr. Martin Goldstein, and Speaking for Spot by Dr. Nancy Kay I started wondering whether annual boosters for Parvo and Distemper really were the best thing for Jasmine.
Yes, vaccinations are one of the daunting issues.
Many experts believe that we are dangerously over-vaccinating our dogs, many still believe that annual boosters are necessary, and some don't seem to really know which side they should be on.
How does one navigate through this?
It caused me quite a bit of anguish. It seemed to me that all there is available out there are opinions unsupported by data. I am long past the point when I'm willing to make a decision based on anybody's opinion. What to do?
Of course I could have taken the easy way out and just booster and get it over with.
Would that be the best thing to do for my dog? There are compelling arguments about the consequences of over-vaccinating which include things such as autoimmune diseases, allergies and even cancer!
Whether the data supporting this belief are sufficiently conclusive or not, it surely raises a serious doubt. With all the advances of veterinary medicine our dogs seem to be getting sicker and sicker. Could it be that over-vaccinating is one of the main causes?
I could have done the opposite and simply decide not to booster.
But the diseases in question are very dangerous and can be deadly. Should I dare to leave Jasmine vulnerable to this risk? That was a leap of faith I was not willing to take.
What other option is there? Titers.
What on Earth are titers?
Titers are a blood test that measures the actual level of protection your dog’s immune systems has against certain diseases. (source: The truth about vaccines: Dog and cat owners be warned).
If you think that there are no arguments about reliability of such testing, think again.
However, the consensus seems to be that if the antibody levels measure high enough, than the dog is protected against that particular disease. That's something, isn't it?
Jasmine's Parvo and Distemper titer results came back yesterday.
A year and a half since her last booster she has plenty of antibodies for both. No booster is necessary! Next year we will test again.
Titers are more expensive than the booster itself. But it is a low price to pay for peace of mind.
Note: Some vaccines, such as for Leptospirosis and Lyme disease do provide protection for one year only. Before deciding on any non-core vaccines (vaccines other than Rabies, Parvo, Distemper and Adenovirus), I recommend a thorough evaluation of your dog's exposure and risk.
It's your dog's health!
The truth about vaccines: Dog and cat owners be warned
Dog Vaccines: Are You Over-Vaccinating?
To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate Your Dog or Cat: Which is Safest?
Vaccination Concerns and Potential Side Effects for Dogs and Cats
Vaccinations for Your Dog: A Complex Issue