Frequently Asked Questions about Titers and Vaccination Protocol by Dr. Dodds

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We frequently receive questions regarding Dr. Dodds’ Canine Vaccination Protocol and titer tests. We thought we would put together a short FAQ to help you and your dog. 

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Updated August 23, 2015

Question:  The breeder vaccinated before nine weeks of age. How do I start your vaccination protocol now?
Answer:  Just continue with the regular minimum vaccine protocol of Distemper and Parvovirus at 9 and 14 weeks.

Question: How soon after a puppy receives his 16 week shot can a titer be done to verify Parvovirus immunity?
Answer: As residual maternal immunity can last for up to 14 weeks, measuring vaccine serum antibody titers should be at least 3 weeks after the last vaccination and not before 16 weeks of age.

Question:  It is difficult to find a veterinarian who gives only the DPV (Nobivac Puppy-DPv) per your vaccination protocol. Can you recommend a vet?
Answer:  You or your veterinarian can purchase it online from such places as Revival Animal Health or KV Vet Supply. Your vet can then administer the shot.

Question:  I plan to purchase DPV (Nobivac Puppy-DPV) since my veterinarian does not carry the vaccine. I notice that I can only purchase it in quantities of 25. Any suggestions as to what to do with the extras?
Answer:  I would donate the extras to your local shelter or rescue. First, find out if they would have use for it. Another idea would be to work with responsible breeders in your area and set up a “co-op” of sorts to share the expense and vaccines.

Question:  I notice I can purchase single shots to protect against distemper and parvovirus. Does this affect the vaccination schedule? If so, what would be the recommended protocol?
Answer:  These vaccines are designed to be given sub-cutaneously. If you buy the individual, monovalent canine parvovirus and canine distemper vaccines, they should be given in alternating fashion every 2 weeks starting with the canine parvovirus vaccine – as this disease is much more prevalent than canine distemper. Vaccines should be shipped to you with cold packs and stored at refrigerator temperature.

Question:  We purchased a puppy from a breeder who only vaccinates for Parvovirus. Should my dog also have Distemper?
Answer:  Your dog does need a distemper virus shot – in fact two doses are needed 3-4 weeks apart. You can purchase it yourself. The only monovalent, single distemper shot on the market today is NeoVacc-D by NeoTech – available online from such places as Revival Animal Health or KV Vet Supply.  (Note: you can also purchase a single shot of Parvovirus from the same places.)

Question:  What kind of rabies vaccine should I get?
Answer:  The rabies vaccine should be thimerosal (mercury) – free – i.e. Merial IMRAB TF.

Question:  Are there any methods to stop the potential side effects of vaccine reactions?
Answer:  You can pre-treat dogs with the oral homeopathics, Thuja and Lyssin, to help blunt any adverse effects of the rabies vaccine. For other vaccines, just Thuja is needed. These homeopathics can be given the day before, the day of, and the day after the vaccine.  Some product protocols suggest a different regimen for them.

Question:  Why won’t my state take my dog’s rabies titer test so he can avoid the vaccine?
Answer:  At this time, no state will accept a rabies titer in lieu of the shot. Additionally, a rabies titer does not satisfy any state’s medical exemption clause. For a list of states with medical exemptions, please visit The Rabies Challenge Fund.  There are currently 18 states that officially recognize exemptions from rabies booster, but only on a justified case-by-case basis and following the specific requirements of that state.

Question:  What is the point of a rabies titer test if my state won’t accept it as a medical exemption?
Answer:  There are two reasons:
1) Rabies titer results are required by many rabies-free countries or regions in order for dogs and cats to qualify for a reduced quarantine period prior to entry. Some of these regions are Hawaii, Guam, Japan, St. Kitts and Nevis, Australia, New Zealand, France, and the United Kingdom. Always check with the destination authority to verify the pet importation.
2) The CDC states that a rabies titer of 0.1 IU/mL or higher is acceptable to protect a person from rabies. Further, the results of the 5-year Rabies Challenge Fund Study showed that immunologic memory for rabies vaccination remains at or above that level of immunity. This information is helpful for pet guardian peace-of-mind in areas where clinical rabies cases occur, and the dog or cat is medically exempt from further rabies boosters.

Question:  Every year, the titer shows them as low on their distemper antibodies. What should I do?
Answer:  I suggest titer testing your dog every three years for both distemper and parvovirus. You can also titer for adenovirus, although we don’t routinely recommend it. There basically is no or minimal infectious canine hepatitis in North America at present; hasn’t been for 15 years except for one minor incident at the Canada/Maritime/US border.

Importantly, any measurable titer to a vaccine including distemper & parvovirus means that the dog has specific committed immune memory cells to respond and afford protection upon exposure. It really doesn’t matter how high the titer result is as long as it measures something. If your dogs consistently have no measurable titer to canine distemper virus, it means mean that they are distemper “non-or low-responders”, an heritable trait where they will never mount immunity to distemper and will always be susceptible. These dogs should not be used for breeding.

As non-or low-responders to distemper are rare (1:5000 cases), my suggestion is that you retest at least one of them at Hemopet.

Question:  My veterinarian believes anytime dogs are in contact with water that they are at HIGH risk for contracting leptospirosis.
Answer: Not so. Most Leptospirosis strains (there are about 200) do not cause disease, and of the seven clinically important strains, only four — L. icterohaemorrhagiae, L. canicola, L. grippotyphosa, and L. pomona serovars — are found in today’s vaccines.  So, exposure risk depends upon which serovars of Lepto have been documented to cause clinical leptospirosis in the area where you live. You can call the county health department or local animal control and ask.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

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