Titers vs. Vaccines

Filed Under: CatsDogs

I'm not a veterinarian, but I do spend my waking hours in the service of pets and the people taking care of pets.  I do get a lot of questions that are not so much diagnostic, but to help people decide their course of action.  And, in any case that requires a veterinarian's care/input, I always make sure that they have been or will be consulted.


There are many questions out there that may have different answers depending on who you ask, and even two different veterinarians may have different opinions based on how or where they were trained, or what kind of discipline they follow.  Just like any doctor, it is the patients prerogative to seek a second opinion, or get assurance that the diagnosis and plan of action is correct.


One of the most recent debates, in both humans and pets, is about vaccines.  Vaccines are a life saving invention, and untold numbers of pets (and humans) have been saved by their use.  There is no debate about that.  But now, we have a movement that believes they can be un-necessary, or even harmful. 


This is true.  There are cases where a vaccine can create a reaction that can harm an animal.  These are extremely uncommon, and compared to the number of lives saved through vaccines, there is no question that while there is a basic truth to the anti-vaccine crowd, there isn't the logic to back up avoiding the general use of them.


Unvaccinated animals can live long, healthy lives.  But they can pose the threat of both succumbing to a disease that they could easily be protected from, and also becoming a "patient zero" for an outbreak of that disease, putting others at risk.


There is, however, a middle ground that many have embraced.  For animals with mature immune systems (not puppies/kittens), titers are a way of testing to see if your animal is maintaining its immunity to a specific ailment.  Rather than giving an animal repeated doses of a vaccine that the animal may already carry sufficient antibodies to, you can have the animal tested through blood tests to see if the vaccine is necessary. 


The only downside to this is cost.  It can be much more expensive to test than to just vaccinate, and if the test comes back revealing a deficiency, you will need to vaccinate anyway.  So, you are paying for the chance to not vaccinate. 


Which is an option that works for everyone.  It keeps the pets safe, and minimizes the vaccines. 


Holistic vets seem to favour titers, conventional vets seem to favour vaccines.  Finding a vet who shares your personal views goes a long way to creating a long term relationship where everyone is satisfied with the outcomes, you , your vet, and most importantly, your pet.


Again, this is a medical decision, please ask your vet about whether this is an option for you. 

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