Titer Test: Don’t Vaccinate Your Dog Unnecessarily

Written by Jan on October 22, 2008 – 4:29 pm

Titer Testing: a Simple Blood Test

Titer Testing: a Simple Blood Test

Enlightened veterinarians and pet parents have become increasingly wary of the health risks, and lack of benefits, associated with repeatedly vaccinating dogs after their initial “puppy shots.” Is titer testing the solution to the over-vaccination problem? Here’s a crash course to help you muddle through the mire of misinformation surrounding this simple blood test, and to help you decide whether or not to test your dog’s antibody titers.

What is titer testing?A titer test (pronounced TIGHT er) is a laboratory test measuring the existence and level of antibodies to disease in blood. Antibodies are produced when an antigen (like a virus or bacteria) provokes a response from the immune system. This response can come from natural exposure or from vaccination. (Note: titering is also called serum vaccine antibody titering and serologic vaccine titering.)

How is the test performed? Your test result will have an explanation of what your pet’s test result means. But if you want to know more, here’s the test in a nutshell: First, one mL of blood is drawn. The sample is then diluted. Titer levels, expressed as ratios, indicate how many times blood can be diluted before no antibodies are detected. If blood can be diluted a 1000 times and still show antibodies, the ratio would be 1:1000. This is a “strong” titer. A titer of 1:2 would be weak.

Should I test for all diseases?The most recommended test examines antibodies for both parvovirus and distemper, the two most important viruses.Rabies titers are also often tested. Usually, for most dogs, tests for other diseases are generally not considered useful or necessary.

Why test? The parvovirus/distemper test can help you or others (vets, groomers, kennel owners, etc.) determine if your dog requires additional vaccination, and may save your dog unnecessary shots. It is especially useful when making a decision about vaccinating an animal with unknown vaccination history, or for determining if puppies have received immunity from vaccination (more below).

Most experts believe strong titers are a more reliable indication of immunity than vaccination: tests show the actual immune response, not just the attempt to cause an immune response by vaccination. Do not expect, however, that everyone will accept test results in place of proof of vaccination.The subject of immunity is complicated, and we are programmed to think of vaccination as “the gold standard” — the more, the better. Experts who challenge the status quo are often maligned. Humans don’t like change.

How often should I test titers for parvo and distemper? You’re going to have to decide for yourself. Some vets recommend testing yearly, but this can be expensive. Others test every three years. Still others test five to seven years after vaccination. Why? Challenge tests show that successful vaccination against parvovirus gives most animals at least seven years of immunity. Distemper provides immunity for at least five to seven years.*

Dr. Ron Schultz, one of the most renowned pet vaccination experts in the country, believes that once a test yields strong titers, you need not test again.  In Dr. Jean Dodd’s article on vaccine reactions, she quotes Dr. Schultz on the value of testing titers: “an animal with a positive test has sterilizing immunity and should be protected from infection.  If that animal were vaccinated it would not respond with a significant increase in antibody titer, but may develop a hypersensitivity to vaccine components (e.g. fetal bovine serum).”

Does a weak titer mean that the dog needs a “booster” shot?Maybe not for dogs that have previously shown strong titers. Many experts, including Dr. Schultz, say the dog’s immune system will have produced “memory cells” that will produce antibodies when they’re needed. Think of memory cells as reserve forces. When known foreigners invade, they remember how to attack them.  Dr. Shultz has said, “show that an animal with a positive test has sterilizing immunity and should be protected from infection.  If that animal were vaccinated it would not respond with a significant increase in antibody titer, but may develop a hypersensitivity to vaccine components (e.g. fetal bovine serum).Read more about memory cells here. Read pages 5-6 of Antibody Titers vs Annual Vaccination by Richard Ford, DVM for more information.

Should I test my puppy? Yes!If so, when?Ideally, puppies should have had their last vaccination after 16 weeks of age then should be tested to see if further vaccination is necessary. There’s an excellent discussion about testing puppies in the 2006 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccine Task Force Report (page 13) entitled What Are The Possible Applications of Serologic Testing? It reads, “Such titer testing is the only way to ensure that a puppy has developed an immune response after vaccinating.”

What do titer tests cost? Testing costs vary widely from practice to practice, so shop around. Some vets do in-house testing. Others use outside labs. Some mark up tests and services a little; others, a lot. You should be able to have parvo/distemper tests done most places for less than $100. Rabies tests, on the other hand, can cost considerably more, in large part because they are sent overnight to a lab. (Ask your vet to have a Titer Testing Day so that they can send multiple tests in one package and save considerably on shipping costs.) Consider contacting Hemopet, Dr. Jean Dodd’s nonprofit organization, for their pricing and her excellent reading of results. When comparative shopping, make sure pricing includes blood draw and shipping. jAnd suggest your vet check out Vaccicheck, a great new in-office test for canine parvovirus, adenovirus and distemper and one for rabies that offers results in 30 minutes at a low price.

Wait! Before jumping to the conclusion that vaccinating is much cheaper than testing, remember that testing can be a one-time (or at least rare) expense and is no riskier than any simple blood draw. Vaccinating, on the other hand, can potentially cause a lifetime of illness.

Should I test for rabies antibodies? The rabies titer test will give you an indication of your dog’s immunity if he or she is at particular risk for contracting rabies. It may also be required prior to international travel. Test results will NOT be accepted by Animal Control and most others as a substitute for vaccination of healthy dogs as required by law.

If your dog has documented health problems or documented adverse reactions to shots, your vet may be able to get your dog an exemption to rabies vaccination. (Learn more at www.Truth4Dogs.org.)A rabies titer test is not usually necessary when requesting an exemption but may be useful when re-applying for a denied exemption. It may also give you and others piece of mind if you’re contemplating an exemption.

(Note: a French challenge study has shown rabies vaccination gives immunity for at least five years. In the U.S, the Rabies Challenge Fund is doing concurrent tests for five years and seven years to extend the period between shots. This important nonprofit study is funded solely by donations from dog lovers like you.)

Can I test titers immediately after vaccinating? To get an accurate test, you must wait at least 14 days after vaccination before testing.

What if your vet, groomer, spouse, best friend, kennel owner or day care proprietor says titer testing is “voodoo science,” that your dog needs continued vaccination even if testing indicates otherwise? Know that vets out of school longer than 10 years received little or no immunology or vaccinology training in school; they shouldn’t be considered experts unless they’ve devoted hundreds of hours to research and training. Others who want to influence you may have no training at all and may be acting out of fear. Do your own research and advocate for your dog.

I hope I’ve given you enough information to make reasoned decisions. The subject is hardly black and white; it is riddled with shades of gray. I’d like to thank veterinary crusaders against over-vaccination Drs. Margo Roman and Tamara Hebbler for their help with this article, and Drs. Jean Dodds and Patricia Jordan for answering my many questions about vaccination over the years.

Where can you learn more? Visit my web page Vaccinating Dogs, and also the articles and videos archived on this blog by clicking the “Vaccination” link. For indepth information in an easy to read format, see my “Rethinking Vaccination” chapter in my award-winning book, Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care.

Also see the excellent information from Dr. Schultz at Antibody Titer Tests: A Video Featuring Ron Schultz, PhD

Other articles of interest:


Why do unnecessary vaccines matter?
Watch our new 3-minute video on
adverse vaccine reactions in dogs and cats

Titer Testing: A Crash Course
New In-Office Titer Test for Dogs: Test Before Revaccinating
Vaccinating Dogs: 10 Steps to Eliminating Unnecessary Shots

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* Challenge studies prove immunity by exposing an animal to a disease.These studies show distemper immunity given by the Rockborn Strain gives 7 years immunity; the Onderstepoort Strain, 5 years. Ask your vet which strain was used to vaccinate your dogs. Read more by clicking here.

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Posted under Titer Testing, Uncategorized, Vaccination | 65 Comments » Email This Post

65 Comments to “Titer Test: Don’t Vaccinate Your Dog Unnecessarily”


  1. ann Says:

    i have stopped feeding my border collie and my treeing walker coon hound commercial dog food. They get a fresh chicken breast and potatoe every day. Their coats are shiny, their eyes sparkle.

    I dont believe in all the shots every year and heartworm disease.

    I thnk that most vets are drug pushers just like md’s are with us humans

    if i can start eating fresh and lose 42 lbs, the effect of eating fresh for my dogs is astounding

  2. ann Says:

    i had a schnauzer that had a problem (exuse the phrase) of not being able to sh*T and when the vet said she needed her vaccines (mind you she’s 9 years old) before surgery, i told the vet that i’ll take her some where else. All of a sudden, the rules of the game was in my favor.

    They performed the operation on minnie without all the vaccines.

    I dont trust doctors to begin with they are legal drug dealers.

    just my 2 cents

  3. ann Says:

    one more ..my dogs are my children, i know the look in their eyes, when i reprimand them, and all i have to do is give the a “look”

    i know just what they tell me by their expressions in their eyes.

    They are smart, all i have to do is raise an eyebrow, and they start talking. just be responsible and know your pets. they are kids and they do talk and we should be able to pick up on their “vibes”.

  4. Loretta - The Pom Mom Says:

    I just finished reading Dr. Martin Goldstein’s book. “The Nature of Animal Healing.” I am now contemplating not getting vaccinations/boosters for my four dogs. My oldest dog, Jack, an 8 yr old chow/mix had a terrible adverse reaction to his rabies shot in December. I was so devastated by his inability to walk or lay down. My vet told me to immediately give him benadryl and within two days he was his old self again. I advised my vet that Jack will never get another rabies shot again. He is too old and the next one may kill him. Now I’m facing concern about my two youngest dogs, a malti/pom who’s a year and a half and my three year old pom who’s three years old. They are both due for rabies and boosters and I’m advocating for my vet to titer them instead of giving them vaccines. They are only 8 and 9 pounds. And I know of a holistic doctor here on Long Island who I’m also going to look into. We can only get smarter in the way we care for our dogs, just like we care for ourselves. I have a natropathic pathic doctor and I use vitamins and supplements and good nutrition. Why shouldn’t my dogs have the same. My four dogs mean the world to me and give me more love and devotion then any human being could ever give me.

  5. Vaccinating Sick Dogs and Cats: A Recipe for Bad Reactions | Truth4Dogs Says:

    [...] recommended shots. (For cat shot info, please visit LittleBigCat and Cat Shots.com.)  Also read Titer Test: Don’t Vaccinate Your Dog Unnecessarily.  Apply for a temporary or permanent exemption to the rabies shot.   Forearmed with knowledge, [...]

  6. N C Dog Trainer Says:

    A perfect example of this in North Carolina is the Rabies vaccine. If I am not mistaken, the Rabies Vaccination will last 7 years; however, you have to have your dog vaccinated every 3 years. A titer would be excellent here as well as for other vaccines.

  7. Jan Says:

    HELP US GET A 7-RABIES SHOT Jim, I hope you’ll support the nonprofit Rabies Challenge Fund. This is how we’ll get a 5-year vaccine, then a 7-year vaccine, for rabies. Drs. Ron Schultz and Jean Dodds are doing imazing work to make this happen — and they are working at no charge. The University is not charging overhead. This is a true labor of love. Learn more at the previous link or my Rabies Information page. You’ll find a link there to donate directly to the Fund. Even a few dollars will help keep the work going until be have a better shot. Tell your friends!

  8. Does Your Dog's Veterinarian Vaccinate Safely? | Truth4Dogs Says:

    [...] or read the two most important ones: Vaccinating Dogs: 10 Steps to Eliminating Unnecessary Shots Titer Test: Don’t Vaccinate Your Dog Unnecessarily Also see my website pages: Vaccinating Dogs: What Your Vet Won’t Tell You (video, info and [...]

  9. Combo Shots for Dogs: A Dangerous Convenience | Truth4Dogs Says:

    [...] Test titers for parvovirus and distemper.  If titers are strong, don’t revaccinate.  (If weak, read my [...]

  10. How to Avoid Vaccination Reactions in Dogs | Truth4Dogs Says:

    [...] automatically re-vaccinate.  Get a simple blood test called a titer test.  Repeated doses of the same vaccine increase the risk of reaction. In another study, the risk of [...]

  11. Tonya Via Says:

    I have an 11 year Peke/Pomeranian mix and 2 of her 7 year old offspring. Both she and one of her puppies had severe reactions to the Rabies vaccine. My “mommy” dog had an immediate Type1 anaphylactic reaction after receiving her vaccine. She began to seize, foam at the mouth and had very high temeratures. She was immediately treated at the vet with an IV, fluids, streroids and Benadryl. She did well after the incident but I have been very concerned about revaccinating her. 1 year later, her 2 “kids” were due for vaccines. I informed the vet about their “mother” having a severe reaction and the possibility of them developing the same. Sure enough, 2 weeks after they were vaccinated, one of her offspring became very ill and nearly died. Her symptoms were very different including severe ulcerations in her mouth, sloughing of her pads on her feet until they were bloddy, weight loss and severe pain even with being touched or lightly petted. It was 2 months of sheer hell watching her become completely debilitated from an autoimmune crisis and $3,000.00 later until we finally noticed a necrotic area on her shoulder appear where she lost her hair. When she had surgery to remove the dead tissue, it was sent for immediate pathology, since that was where her rabies vaccine was given. An urgent report was sent back to my New vet I had taken her to for help, since the other vet refused to believe there could be a correlation to the vaccine causing her problems. It showed a severe reaction to the rabies vaccine. It has been 3 years, and now all 3 are due for their vaccines. We live in a wooded rural area with many wild animals. They are very cavalier and frisky and I do worry about them getting around rabid animals. I have consulted many times with my vet, We both are very concerned and stumped. He is not a big advocate on “overvaccinating” animals, but we are worried about their safety. Even if I get them titered, how often do I need to retiter to see if they still have enough circulating antibodies to prevent the disease? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. My vet has specially ordered the rabies vaccine Imrab (thimersol free). I will also be consulting with a homeopathic vet as well.

  12. Jan Says:

    Hi Tonia. A vet who understands immunology would not risk vaccinating a dog who had had previous reactions. Pet vaccination expert Dr. Ron Schultz, of the Rabies Challenge Fund, WSAVA and AAHA Canine Vaccine Task Force, believes the vaccine gives 7 years of immunity. The French have proved with challenge tests that it lasts 5 years. If your vet needs more information, have the vet contact Dr. Jean Dodds at http://www.hemopet.org Few people know more about it than she does.

    I’m doing a seminar in California with speakers Dodds and Schultz, benefiting the RabiesChallengeFund.org The website for the event, in case you want to come, is petseminar.org

  13. Charles Kaufman Says:

    I am a dog trainer and am trying to change the pet policy at the corp. dog supply business I work at. Now they require yearly vaccines to stay at our “hotel” i.e. kennels. I am trying to get them to accept titers, but it is a struggle. If I can find a way to pressure them into this change, it might help start a paradigm shift… any ideas?

  14. Jan Says:

    Hi Charles. Titers are a good idea. They show that the dog has actually developed immunity. Just getting a shot doesn’t guarantee anything. So requiring strong titers is a safer policy.

    That said, there has never, NEVER, been one scientific study showing that parvovirus or distemper were needed annually. In fact, study after study shows 7 years immunity.

    Furthermore, if a client’s dog had an expensive adverse reaction to unnecessary shots, the boarding kennel could be sued. In fact, I’d encourage someone to sue.

    An article I suggest you read: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/10/08/protecting-dogs-from-vaccine-reactions/

    Two studies, one by the World Small Animal Veterinary Assoc. and the other by the Taskforce of the American Animal Hospital say shots should be given no more often than every three years. Find links to the studies, which you could print out and underline, are at page bottom at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/shots On the same page, in the margin, are great articles by vets Schultz and Ford.

    Good for you for trying to help the dogs.

    If you happen to be in So Cal, check out our Safer Pet Vaccination Seminar with two of the world’s top experts. http://www.petseminar.org

  15. Carolyn M Says:

    Jan, I’m sending you a big virtual hug. Thanks to getting your book 2 years ago, I’m vastly more informed. My dog had a reaction to her last rabies vaccination, we’ve just titered-tested and found that she is very well protected against rabies, parvo and distemper. I’m working now to get her an exemption. I am surrounded by unbelieving vets where I live (outside the US) and it has been an uphill battle, let me tell you. Your informative articles with citations from REAL scientists have been so helpful in starting to bring them around to a new way of thinking. I think you could write another book on this subject illustrated with examples from your posters. Your site and links have really been my best sources of information. Thank you!

  16. Gary Says:

    I once suggested to a neighbor to take her dog to vet so it could be treated for age related diseases. Instead the fifteen year old dog recieved distemper, parvo, corona, and rabies vaccines and had to be put to sleep the next day due to subsequent reactions. On the otherhand, I’ve put hundreds of dogs to sleep for

  17. Gary Says:

    I once suggested to a neighbor to take her dog to vet so it could be treated for age related diseases. Instead the fifteen year old dog recieved distemper, parvo, corona, and rabies vaccines and had to be put to sleep the next day due to subsequent reactions. On the otherhand, I’ve put hundreds of dogs to sleep for parvo or distemper that could have been avoided by simple vacinnations. Pick a competent vet. They are not all the same as their is no universally accepted vaccine protocol. Also, if your dog bites someone without a current rabies vaccine, you will have a hard time getting him back.

  18. Linda Says:

    My 12 year old girl has not had any shots since she was two years old. Her one year booster sent her into seizures a few days after vaccinating. My vet thought it was just a coincidence so at two I gave her, her yearly and same results. Seizures!!! So my vet agrees with me and will write a letter for me should I get called on the fact she has not had a rabies shot. I also have a four year old puppy mill boy who at three had two bad episodes with hemolytic anemia. Suspected is overvaccination of puppy mills and now my vet will not give him any additional vaccinations and will also give me a letter on why he has not had rabies shot since he was one. Neither are around other unvaccinated dogs or out of my yard so chances of me having to show a letter are slim to none.
    Linda

  19. Jan Says:

    Linda, I’m glad your vet isn’t going to continue vaccinating your dogs, but don’t be too grateful. Your vet should have never given a rabies shot to a dog that reacted with seizures the first time. Seizures are a well-documented reaction. Your vet could have killed your dog with the second shot. Thank heavens he/she didn’t.

    Why would your vet even consider vaccinating a puppy mill dog? Why not just do a titer test?

    Vets need to have to stop even considering the vaccination of sick animals. Why would they even consider giving unnecessary shots in the first place, especially to an over-vaccinated puppy mill dog? Have you read my article on unnecessary shots? http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/04/22/no-unnecessary-dog-shots/

    Sorry to unload, but I just hear it so often. Oh, one more thing. Get the exemption letters for both dogs, and a copy of both dogs’ files. Put them in a safe place. Your vet may retire or move or forget or lose files and you need proof of the problems and your vet’s recommendations. Don’t wait till you need them.

  20. jenni zwiers Says:

    I have a siberian husky, named BRUNO which received rabies vaccination on december 2006 and he is in holland at the moment.
    Since im working in Jeddah (saudi Arabia) and no one able to take care of him anymore longer, im planning to take bruno with me to Jeddah on july 2010.
    As it is required by international air transport and saudi government, is it safe to give him another shot of rabies vacc? reminded that bruno has received his annual boost (cocktail) Feb 27 ’2010 what should i do?

  21. Val C. Says:

    I took my two whippets to a vet for their rabies shots; one was 6, the other 1. The 6 yo had some skin lesions which the vet said looked like pemphigus and she proceeded to vaccinate both dogs without giving me the information I needed to make an informed decision, namely that to vaccinate any mammal with an autoimmune problem is a likely death sentence. It was. 2 weeks later he was gone from massive organ failure. If she had been honest about that, I’d have put him down to save him the suffering.

    Since my other whippet is related, I now try to get exemptions or extensions on his rabies, and I do not give him any others. I’m grateful for the suggestions I see here, such as the titer testing instead. I also feed a raw diet and plenty of vitamins/minerals/kelp to maintain the best health possible. I feel like the other dog was murdered, and it was so unnecessary – keep doing all you can to decrease vaccinations and frequency. Yes, I looked into suing but just did not have the heart to go through the emotional pain, although it would have been worth it just to have her lack of professionalism and caring publicized.

    Dogs have survived millenia without vaccines, some haven’t, but then some are not surviving because of them! When I lived in the country I only did the puppy and first year boosters, never any more. Unfortunately I now live in town so it is harder to get away with that.

  22. Jan Says:

    Hi Val. I’m so sorry about your dog. Two thoughts: why not file a complaint with your state veterinary board for your vet’s failure to inform you about the dangers of vaccinating sick dogs. Manufacturers recommend against it and your vet should have known better. You can at least embarrass her in front of the board and maybe she’ll think twice before doing it again — which is the main reason to do it.

    You wrote: “When I lived in the country I only did the puppy and first year boosters, never any more. Unfortunately I now live in town so it is harder to get away with that.”

    Why? In fact, why not give just a puppy shot or two for parvo and distemper (as described in my article about Eliminating Unnecessary Shots), do a titer test a few weeks later, and quit vaccinating? Dogs are not less safe in the city and won’t need more shots. As a bonus, there should be more vets in the city to choose from.

  23. Patricia Deeds Says:

    Where can I get a rabies titer test in Marylan, it sems as if no one knows this information. Thank you.

  24. Jan Says:

    Patricia, any vet can draw the blood. I’d suggest they send the blood to Hemopet.org for testing. Nonprofit Hemopet is inexpensive and the test is read by a top expert: Dr. Jean Dodds.experts.

    FYI: A rabies titer won’t usually take the place of vaccination for your local laws.

  25. Debbie Says:

    The rabies shot lasts 7 years. Why do we have to give our dogs the shot every 3 years? I have a small maltese and I won’t let this shot hurt my dog! I will do all I can to keep him safe from vaccines. I will have my vet do the Titer Test and if he gives me a hard time I won’t give him the shot. I’m so glad there are people like you who tells the truth. The only shot my little dog will get will be the rabies shot because I have to not sure about the 3 years tho. This is a good website and very helpful. Thanks for all you do to keep our pets safe!

  26. Erin Says:

    Do I need to have a rabies renewal to go over the USA border from Canada, or will customs take a rabies titre proof document from the vet instead?

  27. Jan Says:

    Erin, there’s information about getting into http://www.petsonthego.com/impcanada.html Also check out the other links at http://search.aol.com/aol/search?query=canada+and+canine+and+rabies+vaccination+and+import&s_it=keyword_rollover

  28. Upcoming vet - Page 2 - Maltese Dogs Forum : Spoiled Maltese Forums Says:

    [...] same amount. Titre testing is something I am very interested in and wish they would do more of : Blood Test for Dogs to Test Immunity; Don't Over-Vaccinate! | Truth4Dogs [...]

  29. The Vaccination Situation | Pet Girl Friday Says:

    [...] http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2008/10/22/titer-test/#more-33 [...]

  30. Titers (in lieu of vaccinations) « Foto Danes Says:

    [...] If titer results are weak, it doesn’t necessarily mean the dog needs a booster shot.  Read more about weak titer results. [...]

  31. Wanda Hamsa Says:

    I have had many reactions to rabies vaccinations in my two Shih-Tzus from painful skin problems to numerous tumors removed. The Vet even agreed that these problems were probably a side effect of the vaccinations but my city has a law that demands current rabies vaccinations for the pet to be licensed. I want to be legal, however, I will not vaccinate my dogs anymore so I am just not licensing either. My Vet will not supply me with an exemption from vaccinations. I will pay the penalty or fees or whatever, if necessary, because my pets mean more to me than money. It would kill me if animal control officers took my pets from me though and I am so afraid of that. How can these laws ever be changed?

  32. Nippers Vaccinations are due now. - DogForum.net | Dog Forums and Community Says:

    [...] . Some dogs can carry immunities for life from one dose and the rest is just poison Blood Test for Dogs to Test Immunity; Don't Over-Vaccinate! | Truth4Dogs __________________ Remember-When seconds count,the police are only minutes [...]

  33. ashley schaefer Says:

    Thank you so much. From all your guy’s feed back i’ve come to a agreement that my two dog’s will not get another shot. I’ll have my vet to the tilter test but that’s it. One yr when my 4 yr old boston got his shot’s. He broke out in bumps all over his body. I was freaking out because he had a very bad reaction to the shot and i was afraid his throat would close. I rushed him back to vet and they gave him benedril From then on I promised my boston wouldn’t get one unless he really needed a certain kind. I feel that everytime I have ever gave my dogs a shot. They get sick or something bad happens to them. It’s kind of like the flu shot for humans. My dogs have been so healthy since i have refused to give them their shot’s. Thank you all for your information i feel good about my decision.

  34. Jan Says:

    Hi Ashley. In a study of 1.2 small dogs, Boston Terriers were found to be among the top few dogs experiencing vaccine reactions when given more than one vaccine at a time. Most shots contain 4 or more vaccines. You might want to read this: Vaccinating Small Dogs: Risks Vets Aren’t Revealing Good for you for being a good parent!

  35. Patti Says:

    Someone had a titer done on her dog and the results were her rabies was low. Then another person responded with, take your dog for a walk 3 hours before the titer test and the antibodies will be much higher.
    You don’t say anything about what you can do prior to a test.
    Have you heard of this? Is there anything you would add.
    Thank you!

  36. Jan Says:

    Patti, walk your dog to improve antibodies in the blood? I don’t see any way that’s possible. Titer testing expert Dr. Jean Dodds has never written or spoken about this as far as I can find nor is it in her pretest instructions. There’s nothing you can do to improve the quality of the test except to wait 2-3 weeks after a vaccination before testing. That’s really important. And use a quality lab.

  37. Vaccination Reactions Can Mimic Disease Symptoms | Dogs Naturally Magazine Says:

    [...] will allow an exemption to rabies vaccination.  We hope that states will soon allow a rabies antibody titer blood test instead of vaccination. (Please see the nonprofit study of the rabies vaccine by the Rabies [...]

  38. Vaccinating Unhealthy Pets: Beware Reactions & Vaccine Failure | Dogs Naturally Magazine Says:

    [...] [...]

  39. Carol Nettleton Says:

    I have just had a very bad experience with my golden doodle as a result of his last set of vaccinations l l/2 yrs ago, he developed mandubular myositis and almost died. He got this auto immune disease about 7 days after his shots approx l l/2 yrs ago. Today Jan. 16,2012, I went to the vet with him to update his vac. however the vet refused to give him his shots. As I have to board him this week I thought it was necessary for his shots, however, and much to my surprise I find out Benji most likely has enough of the shots still in his system to be fine. Benji’s longevity has been severly compromised due to making an uninformed decision almost 2 yrs. ago. He may never get myositis back, but if he does, it will most likely kill him. This is a devastating disease I wish on no dog, please be careful when you go for shots, take it from me and my loveable Benji, thank god the vet did’nt give him the shots, Carol

  40. Carol Nettleton Says:

    I forgot to add, that in Dec. 2011 Benji went to the vet as he had an eye infection that would’nt clear up. As a result of the myositis, his lower lids have turned slightly inward as he has no muscles left in his upper face (atrophied). Surgery was recommended to correct this condition $3000. I decided not to put him through that, his eyes have cleared up and just water a little, he’s not in pain or discomfort at all. Had Benji had the surgery, he may have died due to his compromised immune system, and/or his myositis can still come back causing the surgery to be a useless effort anyway.

  41. Jan Says:

    Carol, good for your vet for refusing to vaccinate. Few adult dogs need puppy shots, and especially not dogs with immune system problems. I hope your vet has, or will, get your dog an exemption to rabies vaccination. It’s one of the most dangerous shots for him.

    Hang in there.

  42. Elinor Silverstein Says:

    Dear Jan, thank you very much for your well-written article. My beloved male Standard Poodle passed away on Nov 3, 2011 from the rabies vaccine. I had been telling and begging my vet for ages to please run a titer on the rabies vaccine for him as we did with all the other vaccines, and he would not. He always insisted that in S Cal it would not matter and that there would be nothing we and he could do. Shomer, our beloved dog ran his titers on the parvo/distemper sky high. They were blown away how high, as though he had just been vaccinated the previous day, similar to what you wrote. And these would be take a cpl of years later.
    I work in health with humans and animals and have a lot of biochem background. What good it did for us..
    You should look in to the MTHFR gene as I do with people. It stands for methytetrahydrofolatereductace test. It shows how well the liver methylates. Meaning, methylates, or attaches on to the toxin in the liver and draws it out to the intestines or renal area to poop or urinate it out. If they do not methylate well, it stays in, and eventually leaches in to the blood system, which takes it to crucial organs and tissues in the body, causing much harm.
    There is so much I could say about this gene. But, I even contacted Davis vet school and their statement to me was, “Even if we did test for this and saw the gene expression, we would not know what to do with it.” This flabberghasts me, because all mammals have a liver, and the liver does the same action in all mammals, hence the same for all of us. At least, in humans, dogs and cats.
    Meanwhile my young Standard Poodle became so sick it turned to cancer and killed him within one year. He was so young. Do know, I do not go to that vet anymore. They never even said a word of anything to me after I begged and pleaded for the titer. They never said anything to me after Shomer’s deadly diagnosis, either. How many more pets will die because they are not designed to take in so many toxins on top of one another. What makes them so different from humans how have these very same difficulties?
    Sincerely, Elinor Silverstein=

  43. Shannon Reilly Says:

    Hello,
    Thank you for such a Great article. My Vet is one of those that likes to give shots. As the owner of two collies I worry about shots wth their breed. The younger one Seamus will be 4 in April and last years set of shots he was sick for a week. When I told our Vet she said that was normal . Now they are sending my ” Reminders” that my 10 yr old Liam Needs a bordella booster. I dont agree. Neither of my boys are Ever around strange dogs and they are Never kept anywhere but,home. The first time in my life last year I HAD to leave them at a kennel and they came back soo sick . I was told that they were just reacting to the kennel. I will Never do that again.
    I asked my vet about the Titer test and was told it was VERY expensive and just cheeper to get the shots.
    My question is Why does a 10 yr old healthy dog Need all these shots ?
    My friend has two collies that received their Lyme shots and Now we are praying that they both survive because they Both have Lymes.

  44. Jan Says:

    Shannon, first, why are you still using this vet? Or letting your vet use you??? You said you worry about giving shots to a collie. Good for you. Why doesn’t your vet worry? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

    I’ll be posting an article about Bordella vaccination in the next few weeks. Sign up at http://www.truth4dogs.com for notification.

    Titer testing is now pretty inexpensive. And you only have to test once if your dog comes back positive. Even if it’s not positive, a 10 year old almost surely has immunity to the two important vaccines: distemper and parvo. Bordella is useless and is only for dogs in kennels with poor ventilation. It’s like a cold, anyway, and can be easily treated in most cases.

    Tell your friend whose dogs have Lyme disease to seek a homeopath. I can recommend http://www.charlesloopsdvm.com/ Dr. Loops will treat by email and phone and is very good. He treats my dog Jiggy’s cancer.

  45. Jan Says:

    Shannon, I forgot to tell you that many vets now have inexpensive in-house titer tests. See http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2011/08/11/new-in-office-titer-test-for-dogs-test-before-revaccinating/ Also, your vet can draw blood and send it to Dr. Jean Dodds’ nonprofit http://www.hemopet.org Your vet just wants to keep bringing you in. I hope you confront him/her about this.

  46. Suzanne Says:

    Please help me understand when a blood titer should be taken. I have a 17 month old Mi-ki who had a reaction to her rabies shot. It was not a near death type of reaction but a reaction nonetheless. She was snorting and had some foam at her mouth. We rushed her to a local vet who gave her the Benadryl and she seemed okay. She was given the shot at 4 months which I thought was too early. My last two dogs (Cocker Spaniels) were given the shot at 6 months and they had no reactions. I just made an appointment for my Mi-ki and inquired about getting a blood titer test. Immediately the tech said, “For the Distemper? She is due for that?” I said for the rabies and she replied that couldn’t do a blood titer because North Carolina requires a annual rabies anyway. This doesn’t sound right. They know she had a reaction to the rabies because it is in her file. I am not going to be pushed around by another vet that wants money and has an attitude. Any advice? I am only asking for guidance not what I should do exactly. I am going to do what is best for my girl. She is only 4 lbs. and this is the first toy breed I have ever had. Thanks.

  47. Jan Says:

    Suzanne, you wrote: Immediately the tech said, “For the Distemper? She is due for that?” I said for the rabies and she replied that couldn’t do a blood titer because North Carolina requires a annual rabies anyway.

    No state allows a titer test for rabies. If your dog get her first shot at 4 months — which is young but probably the law — she’ll need another a year later unless you can get an exemption. Read this about exemptions: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2012/03/05/does-your-state-permit-rabies-vaccination-medical-exemptions/

    You can get a titer for parvo and distemper to reassure yourself that your dog is protected. But if she had even one parvo/distemper puppy shot after 15 or 16 weeks of age, she is likely protected according to research. Read this: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/04/22/no-unnecessary-dog-shots/

    It is vitally important that you read this about vaccinating small dogs: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/09/30/vaccinating-small-dogs-risks-vets-arent-revealing/ And this about protecting against rabies vaccine reactions in case you have to vaccinate. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2010/09/23/rabies-vaccination-12-ways-to-vaccinate-more-safely/

    I know it’s a lot of reading, but can save you a fortune and protect your dog’s health.

  48. Claire Horvath Says:

    I had my Skye Terrier Sadie vaccinated in April 2010 with (3 yr. rabies for the first time( along with the other shots that vets say you have to have by a mobile clinic. That night she didn’t eat and became unwell and didn’t for two days after that, called the vet and office said to bring her in. They could not find out what was wrong and tried to give her IV for fluids but couldn’t get a catheter in her and suggested I immediately take to to Veterinary Specialists because she was going down fast. I rushed in rush hour traffic to get her there before they closed and they kept her overnight and was able to get a catheter in her and confirmed to me what they suspect that she had Addison’s disease. I truly believe these shots severly impacted her immune system and now she has this for the rest of her life with expensive medicine there is no generic for. I will never give her all of these shots at one time and will only give her 1 yr. rabies required by law and Bordetella because she goes to a groomer. I am now paranoid of these shots.

  49. Jan Says:

    Claire, I fear you have been the victim of bad information.

    Your dog should have never gotten a rabies vaccine with any other vaccine. In fact, since your dog is likely 16 months or older (if getting a second rabies shot), she probably didn’t need any other vaccines at all. Now that her immune system is compromised, it’s unlikely she should ever get another shot of any kind. Vaccinating again might kill her. It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire. It’s unlikely puppy diseases will kill her. You can do a titer test if you want proof. http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/ I hope you dump your vet.

    Where do you live? You might be able to get an exemption to rabies vaccination, and should try very hard to get it. Rabies is not due for three more years anyway. Getting the one-year shot is not a good idea. It’s medically nearly identical to the other shot. It is NOT safer than the three year and has to be given more often and sooner so is actually left safe.

    Bordetella is dangerous and doesn’t work! Please read this: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2012/03/21/bordetella-does-your-dog-really-need-the-kennel-cough-vaccine/ Find another groomer. Better yet, have your groomer read the article, too.

    You also need to read http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2010/12/02/what-to-do-when-your-dog-has-a-vaccine-reaction/ It’s imperative you get all your dog’s files and report the reaction to the vaccine manufacturer. Keep all your records and reports safe so you can get an exemption. This is very important!!!!

    There may well be cheaper medications. I suggest you contact a holistic vet. You’ll have to pay for a consult but holistic remedies are general cheaper. http://truth4pets.org/vets/ Holistic vets work to cure a dog rather than just suppress symptoms.

    You should tell your story on my Tell Your Story page. To do so, find out exactly what shots your dog got, send a photo and give me permission to post it.

  50. Charles Kaufman Says:

    I am a professional dog trainer and behaviorist and one of my interests is researching vaccinations. I am on the mailing list for the rabies challenge.

    I have come to the conclusion that over vaccinating is a very real problem and only lines the pockets of drug co’s and vets. I find the better vets promote the titer option. I only give the 3 yr. rabies…period. Everything else I titer test. If we all insist on this, things will change. YOU must advocate for your pet.

  51. KID Says:

    The other day I took my 3 y/o lab in for immunization titers and a full panel thyroid test since she already had to have blood drawn for rocky mountain spotted fever. Four weeks ago she had to have surgery on both knees and her shoulder so when she was under they did a routine test for diseases that could be effecting her joints…rocky mountain spotted fever was one, which she tested positive for and has been on doxy since. Anyhow, when they drew her blood the other day they took it from her external jugular, which made me nervous and a little sick to my stomach. The last time she was in for blood work I asked why the neck and they responded that’s just where they take blood on dogs. Now I’m not a dog medic but however, I have been a medic for people for over 15 years and the only time I went for an ej was when I had no other options. To me, there are options.. 4 to be exact… when the tech was not able to get enough blood from her neck (which my baby was not struggling at all..she was crying..not wining…CRYING with tears in her eyes..which made me even sicker) she had to do a re-stick. I insisted she pulled from the leg this time, which she did and was successful. This last tech told me that she had to pull from the neck because of how much blood she need and I figured that since she just had surgery on both knees where they used her back legs for ivs, it made sense at the time. In retrospect…her hind legs probably would have been the better choice. Anyhow, I was a little upset because she was digging around my baby’s neck like she didn’t know what she was doing and I started to stop her after she repositioned the third time but then she got blood so I kept my mouth shout and continued to comfort my baby. The tech tried to tell me that there are no risks involved by taking it from her neck; I corrected her and said there are risks because of how close the arteries are as well as the trachea and other critical things even if her neck is fatty, which it is. At least the last time the vet tech got it on the first try. My question is…does anyone know the protocols of drawing blood in veterinarian teaching hospitals/schools. Most “training” type sites or videos I have been to all show drawing from the neck versus a leg and why have I heard several canine medics tell me this is their first route of choice? Any insight would be greatly appreciate since we will have to return annually for blood work. I’m thinking about drawing it up myself and just taking the blood to them. Thoughts?

  52. Erin Says:

    Hi I really want to protect my dog and cat from over vaccination. But I am concerned about animal control. Would they make me vaccinate even with a Titer test done? I don’t want my pets to get cancer etc because of over vaccination. Any advice?

  53. Jan Says:

    Erin, the only vaccine of interest to Animal Control is rabies. At this time, a titer test cannot be used in lieu of vaccinating. If your pet is an adult, and has had two vaccines already, you probably just need rabies once every three years. In many states, cats don’t have to be vaccinated at all. Check online or with your vet.

    Here’s my best article on Questions to Ask Before Vaccinating. It should answer your questions. http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/

  54. Toronto Dog Walking | Canine Nutrition Consultation | blog | oh my dog Says:

    [...] lasts for life. There is a way to find out if your dog is still immune; it’s called a titer test (a blood test which measures antibodies). About 2 years ago I titer-tested my own dog who was 6 [...]

  55. Amber Says:

    Hi:

    I am a first-time dog owner and have recently adopted a Maltipoo (Maltese/Miniature Poodle) puppy; I’ve had her for over 3 weeks and she’s nearly 5 months old. She came from a shop specializing in small designer-breed dogs obtained from local breeders.

    I’m worried, however, about her being over-vaccinated, especially since she is sometimes a finicky eater and is, as I mentioned, of a small breed. The shop gave me a record of the shots they’ve already given her:

    NeoPar, when she was just over 4 weeks
    Intra-Trac-3 (Bordetella), the very day after the NeoPar
    Galaxy (Nobivac) DA2PPv at nearly 8 weeks
    Another DA2PPv at 18 weeks (the day I brought her home)

    So I took her to the vet for a check-up about 10 days after bringing her home, and they told me she needs a DHPP vaccine (4 weeks after the second DA2PPv). I’m due to take her in there later this week.

    But after reading about the risks – what with her possibly being separated from her mother too young (first vaccine at 4 weeks?!), being small, and her spotty shot record. I was thinking about canceling her appointment, waiting a month or two, and then taking her in to get a titer test.

    What do you think would be the best course of action here?

  56. Jan Says:

    Hi Amber. Your dog has definitely been over-vaccinated. The top researcher, Dr. Ron Schultz, will tell you that just ONE viral vaccine given at 15 or 16 weeks will likely give immunity for life. Please read http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/ and please watch the series of videos with Dr. Schultz and Dr. Becker at http://truth4pets.org/videos/

    Your dog was also given too many vaccines at once. Every additional vaccine given increases the chance of a reaction by 24%. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/09/30/vaccinating-small-dogs-risks-vets-arent-revealing/

    If your dog was mine, I wait until 3 weeks after the last vaccine given at 18 weeks and do a titer test for parvo and distemper. If positive, experts say no additional vaccines are needed. Wait as long as you legally can for the rabies vaccine. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2010/09/23/rabies-vaccination-12-ways-to-vaccinate-more-safely/

    On another subject, it’s likely your puppy is a puppy mill pup. Good breeders don’t sell their dogs in stores and don’t let just anyone with a credit card buy them, just as human babies aren’t just sold in stores. Good breeders want their puppies to have a good home, the right home. Stores like this are illegal in many places in California and elsewhere — for good reason.

    Find a holistic vet to help your dog recover from all those drugs. http://www.truth4pets.org/vets Good luck!

  57. Amber Says:

    Hello, Jan:

    Thank you so much for your speedy reply. I’ve decided to cancel her appointment and arrange for a titer test after the holidays have passed.

    I did read about the correct ages for vaccinating puppies, and in the case of mine it looks like she was given her shots too early and then too LATE for them to be effective for her.

    I sincerely hope she’s not from a mill. I’ve heard that puppy mill dogs tend to be sickly. But so far, she seems to be okay. After bringing her home I was concerned because she ate very little and slept a lot. But her appetite has gradually increased, and she definitely has more energy and is very affectionate.

    Again, thank you very much!

  58. Jan Says:

    Amber, the good news is that if your dog made it without illness, the vaccines weren’t too late. In fact, they are likely more effecti
    Not all puppy mill dogs are sickly, but they are more likely to be because of in-breeding. They are also more likely to be poorly socialized. There’s a great book on behavior and socialization by Jean Donaldson: Culture Clash.

    There’s also a product I recommend: raw goat’s milk from A+ Additional Answers. It’s inexpensive and will help with digestive problems. I give it to both my dogs. (Their foods also look good.)

  59. Debra-anne Says:

    WHAT IS YOUR OPINON ON GIVING DOGS HEARTWORM MEDS.i have 2 rescues Nikki who I rescued at 5 months old now 18 months and an older dog of around 4 yrs old nikki is 4.6 and april is 9 lbs..both are Chihuahuas..they both were started on heartguard plus when rescued and I was told upon adopting them both that I had to continue the monthly treatment..may I add I had my beloved Sally-anne for 17 yrs she never received any yearly shots or heartworm treatment and my point I had her for 17 yrs???..why must I give all this poison to my new babies??? and should I stop or can I stop..we live in south fla..

  60. Jan Says:

    Debra-Anne, I have two articles on heartworm that I think will address your very good question: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/05/13/heartworm-medication-safety/

    Here’s my favorite article on vaccinating as well: http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/ I hope you’ll read it.

  61. Yearly Shots, Not Our Friend - Anyone Else - Boxer Forum : Boxer Breed Dog Forums Says:

    […] And you can do titer test to see if your dog needs a vaccine. Hope you guy gets better soon! Blood Test for Dogs to Test Immunity; Don't Over-Vaccinate! | Truth4Dogs __________________ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qaru1pvCHOU Gunther Mastiff/Pit Mix […]

  62. Claudia C Chapman Says:

    I have had Springer Spaniels for over 20 years. Our latest pup (11 weeks) is from a litter sired by our 10 yr. old male Springer. Our son bought one of our male puppy’s liter mates, and they often play together while our son is at work in our yard. He vaccinated his puppy with the 4-in-one right before I left on a trip to our second home with our puppy. (I was waiting till ours was a full 12 weeks.). They spent one day together post vaccination of the litter mate. Within 48 hrs. Our pup was lethargic, had swollen, painful lymph nodes under his jaw, and his ears seemed infected. I planned on doing minimal vax’s. I’m now wondering if he contracted live viruses/bacteria shed by his brother??? He hardly woke up for 4 days, got up to pee, drink and eat minimally, and then just slept most of 4 days. I’m in the middle of nowhere, so I pulled out my homeopathics and treated his ears and gave olive oil with Oregano oil orally. He is now (7 days out) back to normal. He did eat deer feces when I wasn’t looking and has been licking his forelegs a lot. I AM CONSIDERING NO FURTHER VACCINATIONS. I am in 95969 zip, the nearest holistic vet is 400 miles away. CAN ANYONE REFER ME TO A VET WHO CAN CONSULT WITH ME LONG DISTANCE.

  63. Jan Says:

    Claudia, yes, the virus can be shed by the vaccinated dog. There are some wonderful holistic vets who will consult by phone at http://www.truth4pets.org.

  64. Sue Huss Says:

    Just like with children I believe too many vaccinations at once can create autism in dogs. My friend’ who had a playful active dog suddenly noticed her dog’s personality had changed overnight after some vaccinations.

  65. Titers Testing – Tell Me More | K-9 Angels Rescue Says:

    […]  *  *  *  *  *  * Titer Test: Don’t Vaccinate Your Dog Unnecessarily October 22 2008 http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2008/10/22/titer-test/ . *  *  *  *  *  *  * More On Vaccine Titers July 11 2012 […]

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