Jenn Pet Vet's Blog

The Scoop About Vaccine Titers October 24, 2012

Which Vaccines Does My Pet Need???

Sometimes deciding the appropriate way to vaccinate your pet can be very confusing. Beyond deciding which vaccines, there is also the question of how frequently should your pet get those vaccines. The vaccine titer is a useful tool that can help determine when your pet needs a vaccine and result in your pet getting fewer vaccines.

So what is a vaccine anyway?

A vaccine is a weakened form of the disease that it is meant to prevent. When a live vaccine is administered it will cause a mini-disease in order to stimulate the immune response. This immune response should then, in theory, protect your dog or cat from the real deal.

A vaccine is not 100% effective. There are many factors that contribute to a vaccines effectiveness. If a pet is sick, has a problem with their immune system, or is otherwise weak their immune response to the vaccine will be diminished.

What is a vaccine titer and what are the pros and cons?

A vaccine titer is a blood test performed by a veterinarian. It measures the amount of antibody in the blood to a specific disease. An adequate titer indicates that the body should be able to fight off that disease.

Pros: The benefit to performing a titer over blindly giving vaccines at predetermined intervals is that it provides a much more fine tailored approach for vaccination. The decision to vaccinate or not is determined by the individual’s immune response, not an arbitrary vaccine schedule. And because vaccines have been linked to autoimmune diseases and other chronic conditions like allergies, seizures, arthritis, endocrine disorders, gastrointestinal problems, and cancer – the fewer vaccines, the better.

Cons: A vaccine titer does cost more than the actual vaccine. But providing a pet with good health is definitely worth the extra cost. There is also a small possibility that because vaccine titer can’t predict future immunity, your pet’s immunity could drop in the months after the titer test.

For which diseases are titer tests performed?

The main diseases that are titer tested for in dogs are Parvovirus and Canine Distemper Virus. There are titer tests for Rabies but this is a vaccine that is required by state law. There are times when a rabies titer might be accepted by a certain jurisdiction, but you will need to contact the local authority that issues rabies licenses in your area to see if they will accept a titer result instead of a vaccine.

For cats the main disease that is titer tested for is Feline Panleukopenia.

If you are performing titer tests for your dog or cat make sure that your veterinarian is able to give individual viral vaccines. This means Parvovirus, Distemper Virus, or Panleukopenia on their own, not the typical DAPP (Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza) or FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Panleukopenia) combination vaccines.

I hope that all of this information is helpful in helping you  and your pets on your journey towards good health!

If you’d like more information on vaccinations, please consider joining me on November 3rd from 7 pm until 9 pm at WonderDogs in Berlin NJ for my complete vaccination discussion. 

Peace, love, and plenty of tail wags~

Jennifer Forsyth, VMD

 

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Daminger’s – A Natural Pet Foods Store February 8, 2012

Some of the dry foods found at Daminger's

 

I cannot stress enough just how important good food is to the health of a pet. I’ll admit, I used to provide average-quality food to my dogs when I was in vet school and for a year or so afterwards. But then my dog Lily decided she wasn’t going to eat it anymore while I was visiting family in New York. I ended up stopping in a pet store that carried natural foods. When I asked for something like my current brand they were quick to inform me that I didn’t want that kind of food and they gave me a bag of Wellness. This new food didn’t contain artificial colors, preservatives like BHT/BHA, or animal by-products; but it did contain some ingredients that were very different for me like blueberries and flax seeds AND my dogs loved it!

 

After I arrived back home in my small southern New Jersey town, I began to worry that I wouldn’t be able to find my dogs’ new favorite healthy food. You can imagine my surprise when the store locator from Wellness’s website sent me only 3 miles down the road to Daminger’s

The canned food display at Daminger's

 

Daminger’s is the quintessential country store with it’s wooden floors, painted shelves, and old-fashioned charm. It is currently owned by Ken Daminger and Tom Mariner, two of the friendliest and most helpful guys you’ll ever meet.  Daminger’s was started back in 1929 by Ken’s grandfather and they have been providing love through nutrition even since.

 

There are so many wonderful foods there; I won’t be able to cover them all but I’ll give you some of my favorite categories.

 

For the fussy eater: ZiWi Peak is a food in it’s own category as it is a jerky style food. I have a lot of success with small breed dogs accepting this food. Health Extension Little Bites, an organic chicken based food, is also an excellent choice for the little guys that don’t like big kibbles.  Merrick, Nature’s Variety (Homestyle), and Tiki Dog/Tiki Cat are canned foods that look like real food. These are good choices for pets that will only eat table food.  Nature’s Variety also makes a freeze dried powder called Raw Boost that can be used to make a delicious gravy to help get Fido back to his bowl.

Merrick (Campfire Trout Feast ) and Nature's Variety (Homestyle Chicken Stew)

 

Grain-free foods are a good option for dogs that have allergies, as many times grains (especially corn, wheat, and soy) can contribute to creating inflammation. NutriSource is unique in that they use pea fiber (instead of potatoes).  Petcurean makes Now which is their grain free formula and they use only the freshest human grade quality ingredients.  And for completely starch free, Wysong makes Epigen.

 

Daminger’s also carries frozen raw food which is one of the things that I personally feed to my pack. They have Primal, Nature’s Variety, and Rad Cat stocked in their freezer.  For those not ready to take the raw plunge, there are options between raw and kibble like dehydrated foods (NRG), freeze dried foods (Stella & Chewys and Nature’s Variety Raw Boost), and refrigerated food (DeliFresh).

 

Let’s face it, economic times are tough right now, and Daminger’s carries something for every budget.  The chicken formula for both Canidae and Verus are less than $30 for a 30 pound bag. And for those that want to go organic, ProNature’s wild caught Atlantic  salmon formula is less than $50 for a 30 pound bag.

 

 

 

Post Script (AKA Dr. Forsyth’s philosophies) – We personally create the type of community that we want to live in. Our neighborhoods are their own web of life. When we shop at a small family owned business, instead of a big box store, we are investing in our community and ourselves. 

 

 
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