Don’t Let Your Vet Vaccinate Blindly: Test Titers

Written by Jan on January 26, 2015 – 11:59 pm

Someone (I’ll call her Ann) wrote me last week asking: Is there any recent info I can pass along to my Vet – he says titres are not reliable and he will not do them.

Yikes. He-will-not-do-them? Titer testing — a simple blood draw to test immunity to a disease — is an absolutely safe procedure. You can test titers (antibody) levels to determine if an animal (or human) already has immunity to particular diseases and doesn’t need “boosters.”  The most commonly tested titers are for parvovirus and distemper, the two most important diseases, and also rabies in certain instances. Don’t waste your money on anything else.

Even if Ann’s vet thinks titer testing is unreliable and a waste of time and money, it is her money and her responsibility to keep her dog healthy. Not his. His job, in this instance, is to draw blood and offer advice if asked. After testing, it is up to Ann to determine the weight to give to the results. She can then allow her vet to vaccinate if he wants. Or not.

Incidentally, Ann could have any vet or vet tech draw blood. She could send the blood sample to a lab (like my favorite, They’ll perform the test and an expert will interpret the results. From that point on, she can solicit her vet’s input. Or not.

Although most enlightened veterinarians will happily test titers, too many, like Ann’s vet, refuse to test or will belittle results. Others avoid confrontation by charging astronomical rates. A parvovirus/distemper titer test should cost around $50-60; a rabies titer (not for export) should cost around $100. Add to this, around $25 for a blood draw; some tests in some locations may also require a shipping expense. If your vet is charging much more than that, he/she is just trying to discourage (and/or take advantage of) you.

But isn’t vaccinating cheaper than testing? 

Read more »

Tags: dogs, immunity, test, titer, Vaccination, veterinarian
Posted under Titer Testing, Uncategorized, Vaccination, Vaccine Reactions, Veterinarians | 8 Comments » | Email This Post

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Microchipping Your Dog or Cat

Written by Jan on December 17, 2014 – 10:30 am


Mary Wall, DVM, allowed us to post this valuable information on microchips and how to prevent, avoid and surpass many of the common issues that arise.  Two of my own dogs have had chip migration issues, with their chips traveling down their shoulders. I hope you’ll take the time to read this valuable post.  — Jan

scared-dog-editedFirst of all, there are many manufacturers of microchips (MC’s) and thus many different groups that register them and, also, ***IMPORTANT*****  many manufacturers of microchip scanners. Although there are some scanners that will READ all types of chips, there are also scanners that do not.  (I have made it a point to own a scanner that will read all types of chips—–I cannot vouch for either the SPCA, rescue groups, or other vet clinics).


1)  If you know they have a MC, ask your vet to scan and confirm that it is present, functioning and the number documented is correct.  Every time you go to vet, ask them to scan  (we do!!)  And sometimes, we find NO chip, extra chips, or the wrong number chip (disastrous).

2)  Ensure that all of your personal info is current with your own company of registration.  When we move, change email, change phone #, microchip registration may not always be on our “remember to notify” list.

3)  Try to keep a microchip tag on pet’s collar.  I realize this can be impossible, but it is very helpful to do so.

4)  Understand what a chip can and cannot do.  It can return pet to owner, IF:
-properly scanned
-scanned by a scanner that can read the type of chip you have
-all information with the registry is accurate  (or at least some of it)
-a MC is not a tracker, and if you have not registered the chip, the only info that is obtained is who purchased that chip;  if it was a breeder, a disorganized shelter, etc, there may be no way to find you.
-if you adopted a previously owned pet, you had better be sure that the contact registration is now for yourself.


1)  We scan and find multiple microchips.  (I found 3 on one dog once!!!)  One not uncommon cause of this is that pet was never scanned prior to chipping and there was already a chip there.  (another is that the scanner used by chip placer #2 and #3 was not able to even ID the other chips already there)

2)  I have scanned and found NO chip.  I had a recent experience, details below, and the clinic who did the chipping declared “chip gone dead”.  I was SO ANNOYED that I took radiographs and found NO CHIP present—-(yes, microchips show up on radiographs/X-rays).  I mean, the owner had microchip info on the paperwork, but no tag on the dog but there was no chip.
The common mistake here, IMHO, is that who ever inserted the chip did a poor job of doing it.  It fell out, or maybe was never placed.  There is a tiny bit of art to microchip placement (which is why only the vets do it in my office).

3)  I have scanned and found the wrong chip number, compared with the tag or adoption agency paper number.  Here, the cause is ignorance, chaos and people not caring enough to do the job properly.  (Again, IMHO)  Usually, these chips come from a shelter of some sort where they perhaps is an “assembly line” set up for spay/neuter/chip, in my experience.

BTW, one can surgically remove a microchip.  I am saying this not to encourage stealing a dog, but sometimes there can be problems with transfer of information.
Also, there are some companies (I met one in Florida) who sell chips and register chips in their registry  (these are chips they have marketed from another manufacturer, oftentimes to breeders in my experience).  This particular company sells someone else’s chip, charges to register and answer the lost/found pet line Monday through Friday from 9-5!!!
Be aware, if you have above situation you can also register with the AKC registry (nothing to do with pure-bred dogs, they make Trovan chips and will register anyone’s pet/chip).  So one can have a dual-registration and multiple tags from different registries with the same chip #.  I really like that the AKC does this!

So—microchips can be an incredible blessing, but if not dealt with properly, an incredible curse!  If one calls the wrong registry, has the wrong chip number, inaccurate owner info…….well, you get it!


What inspired this?  Lots of things but, in particular, a recent event where vet clinic claimed bad chip (BS-like NO chip) and they did not even have the  chip number (albeit not implanted in this dog) in their computer system.  “we changed software several years ago and I guess it wasn’t transferred ”  We KNOW that clinic bought that chip from that manufacturer.  I took radiographs to confirm no chip——there was no microchip—–so we put in a new one.

Then there is the dog from shelter that had NO chip.  (this shelter mailed a new chip to me to implant—-good for you Doc Williams Shelter!!!)

Then there was dog from SPCA who had a chip that did not match the number on his tag—–we got that straight for them, but for not scanning, we would never know.

Then there is the dog that has 2 chips.  She came from a rescue group who chipped her but already had a chip from Washington State.(we live in SC)  Dead end on the info for former owner in WA, and we helped owner to change the former registration, lest someone only find that chip, a dead end and then deem the pet as no longer owned.

Then there is the dog with a chip that needed me to place a 2nd chip, called an  “ISO” chip to leave the country, only to go elsewhere for insemination where this vet either did not scan or owned a scanner that did not read all chips, thus there are 3 chips in this dog.

OK, enough stories, I hope you get the message.

OH, and BTW, two of my patients have chips that have migrated to their elbows. (not done by me, but I am not saying that couldn’t happen)  So scan entire body!!!

Please use this information wisely to ensure the safety of your most beloved pets!

Dr. Mary Wall

Thanks again to Dr. Wall. I discuss additional problems with microchips, including what a world-renowned veterinary oncologist told me about microchips and cancer risks in the new e-book version of my book, Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care. It debuted as a #2 Amazon Bestseller in Dog Care, thanks to many of you who purchased it. It’s still available at an unbelievably low price and makes a great gift.  You can read it on a computer, tablet or phone with the free Amazon app.  Or click here to read 10% of it free on Amazon.


Posted under Health Alerts, Safety, Uncategorized, Veterinarians | No Comments » | Email This Post

Why Vets Don’t Recognize Vaccine Reactions

Written by Jan on December 17, 2011 – 1:01 am

You take your perfectly healthy dog to the vet for “her shots.”  Early the next morning, she has a seizure — her first seizure ever.  You rush your dog back to the vet or an emergency clinic and ask if the seizure had something to do with the shot.  Odds are, the vet will tell you, No, it’s not the shot! She might a genetic disorder or possibly even a brain tumor. The timing is just a coincidence.

Or … your dog is suddenly having trouble walking after rabies vaccination. Or he suddenly becomes aggressive.  You ask your vet if the condition could be tied to the rabies shot.  No, it’s not possible, the vet says. He says has never heard of such a thing. But something tells you the condition and vaccine are related.

Of course, not all veterinarians are reluctant or unable to recognize and deal with vaccine reactions. In fact, the practices of vets trained in homeopathy, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, etc. often revolve around treating reactions caused by vaccination.  And, happily, many conventional vets are becoming increasingly worried about over-vaccination and vaccine reactions. But these vets are not the norm.

Many people have written me that they have had to fight with their vet to even get a vaccine reaction considered and noted in their dog’s or cat’s file.  The vet doesn’t even want to call the vaccine maker to report or inquire about the reaction.  After you do extensive Internet research, your suspicions grow. You see another vet, or maybe post on this blog looking for answers or you e-mail me. You wonder: why are vets so reluctant to admit that a vaccine (or vaccine combo) caused a reaction?  Here are some potential reasons why. Read more »

Tags: bad reactions to shots, cat, dog, rabies shot reaction, Vaccination, vaccine reactions, vets
Posted under Uncategorized, Vaccination, Vaccine Reactions, Veterinarians | 47 Comments » | Email This Post

Lifelong Immunity – Why Vets Are Pushing Back

Written by Jan on December 14, 2011 – 1:02 am

Why do vets continue to vaccinate yearly or triennially when many vaccines have been shown to give immunity as long as the pet’s lifetime? Read this article from our friends at Dogs Naturally Magazine.

The duration of immunity for Rabies vaccine, Canine distemper vaccine, Canine Parvovirus vaccine, Feline Panleukopenia vaccine, Feline Rhinotracheitis, feline Calicivirus, have all been demonstrated to be a minimum of 7 years by serology [blood antibody testing] for rabies and challenge [exposure] studies for all others. [Note: bracketed explanations added by Jan Rasmusen.]

In the Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines: What We Know and What We Don’t Know, Proceedings – Canine Infectious Diseases: From Clinics to Molecular Pathogenesis, Ithaca, NY, 1999, Dr. Ronald Schultz, a veterinary immunologist at the forefront of vaccine research and chair of the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Pathobiological Sciences, outlines the DOI for the following vaccines:

Minimum Duration of Immunity for Canine Vaccines: Read more »

Posted under Uncategorized, Vaccination, Veterinarians | 9 Comments » | Email This Post

What to Do When Your Dog Has a Vaccine Reaction

Written by Jan on December 2, 2010 – 1:32 pm

IS THIS AN EMERGENCY?  If your dog is breathing heavily, his face is swelling and eyes watering, and/or he’s vomiting, has hives or is having a seizure or collapsing, your dog is having a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. CALL YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY! and start for your vet’s office or an emergency facility while, preferably, someone else drives.  (You do know where the nearest emergency vet is, don’t you?)

Your vet may not recognize your dog’s symptoms as a vaccine reaction and probably won’t want to believe or admit that the shot he/she administered brought on this problem.  If you believe it’s a vaccine reaction, be strong. You know your dog better than your vet does. Above all, keep your wits about you. Don’t be pressured into doing anything that doesn’t feel right. For example, if your dog has her first seizure ever soon after vaccination, she is probably having a vaccine reaction; she probably does NOT suddenly have a brain tumor requiring a $800 MRI!  As they say, when you hear hoof beats, think horses not zebras!  Read more »

Posted under Rabies Shots, Uncategorized, Vaccination, Vaccine Reactions, Veterinarians | 270 Comments » | Email This Post