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Are we over-vaccinating our dogs?

Updated: Oct 1, 2018

At Dog Trouble, we believe in the importance of natural health and wellbeing for dogs, avoiding exposing dogs to unnecessary toxins wherever possible.  This is why we support natural raw feeding and the use of titre testing for dogs to prevent unnecessary overuse of vaccinations.

Leading vaccine researcher Dr. Ronald Schultz provides us with an informed account (below) of Disease immunity in dogs and the use of vaccinations, bringing an alternative approach.  

For most of us who share our lives with dogs, making sure they are protected against disease is a priority. We mindfully take our puppies or newly adopted dogs for their recommended vaccines. We routinely return to our veterinarian when we receive a ‘reminder’ that our dogs are due for booster shots. We know vaccination offers critical protection from diseases such as canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, canine hepatitis, however many of us rely on our vets to advise us accordingly.  For many years now we have been led to believe that we have to vaccinate our dogs yearly, however according to the The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) protection from puppy and kitten shots is likely to be lifelong.  In other words, the core vaccinations given to our pups can, in most cases, be expected to create lifelong immunity.

While grateful for the protection that vaccines offer, much research has been carried out to provide dog owners with the facts about vaccinations and the alternative options available, enabling us to now make informed decisions about providing protective immunity for our dogs and the appropriate use of vaccinations.  The most reliable and successful option is the use of Titre testing.

A “titre” is a method of measuring antibodies in a blood sample for specific diseases – Canine Hepatitis, Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper, to help minimize the risks of disease and unnecessary vaccinations. A vet will draw a small amount of blood and then run that blood through the test. An antibody titre is not a snap shot in time as some veterinary professionals will report, however it gives an insight into the life of the animal. Simply put, these tests will provide evidence of whether or not your dog is positive (protected) or negative (not protected) for antibodies to protect them for the core illnesses we vaccinate for.

If you get a negative test result you have the choice to either re-vaccinate your dog for that disease ONLY or administer homeopathic nosodes and then re-test for immunity with a titre test at least 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine/nosode.

Some vet practices will lead you to believe that your dog requires the combination vaccine yearly which covers all 3 diseases, which is incorrect and can lead to an adverse reaction in your dog.  If re-vaccination is given where the dog is already immune then the vaccination can actually cause adverse reactions, whereas a titre blood sample will never give an adverse reaction.  So surely it is better for the health of your dog to get a titre test to check the level of antibodies before you consider vaccinations?

The most recent American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccination Guidelines say that reported side effects from vaccines vary from injection-site reactions, lethargy, lack of appetite and fever to more serious adverse events, including allergic reactions, autoimmune problems and, rarely, sarcoma or other tumors. The decision about when to vaccinate requires a risk benefit analysis. Most experts agree that vaccines are critical to the overall health and wellness of our dogs (and cats), but many also agree that giving a vaccine when it is not needed exposes animals to unnecessary hazards.

Before puppies are born approximately 5% of antibody is transferred from the mother to the puppy via the placenta, with the remaining 90% provided from the colostrum milk that the puppy first suckles when it is born.  This provides a puppy with PASSIVE immunity to the various viruses and bacteria that the puppy may be exposed to within the first 3 days of birth.

This antibody immunity will then decline gradually to being non-existent by around 14-16 weeks of age.  When vaccinating a puppy it is important to understand that in order for the vaccine virus to work we must let the level of natural antibody received from the mother to get to a low/non-existent level in order for the antibody from the vaccine to work, causing a natural immune response in the puppy to ensure immunity.  If not the natural antibodies received from the mother will prevent infection from the vaccine virus and will not provide immunity.  This is why it is important that the last dose of vaccine needs to be given at 14-16 weeks of age to provide ACTIVE immunity. To ensure puppies have responded you can then get a titre test done 2 or more weeks after their last vaccine at 14-16 weeks, to ensure the vaccine has worked.  If they test for a negative level of antibodies then you can re-vaccinate, however it is important to know that some dogs never respond to vaccines and are termed a ‘non-responder’.  The old practice of repeating a vaccination to try to ‘get it to take’ is pointless and dangerous. If your dog is a non-responder it is a nonresponder, and no amount of vaccination will change that.


Provide Protective immunity for your puppy by giving vaccinations at 14-16 wks, give a titre test to check for antibodies 2-4 weeks after, then again every 3 years or more.  With older dogs 10+ years you may want to test yearly as old dogs may lose their antibodies.  If you get a Negative result you can either vaccinate against that one disease or treat with a homeopathic nosode.


If you would like to read more about Titre testing with VacciCheck, follow this link:

If you would like to find out more about the dangers of over-vaccinating, the benefits of titre testing and/or other options to vaccination, such as homeopathic nosodes, we recommend you check out the great information on the Canine Health Concern website:

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