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Serum antibody titer test

A titer test tests for antibodies and can give pet owners an idea of how well protected their dog is against major diseases. For families who have a dog who is older than the vaccination age, but don’t know the vaccination history for the dog, a titer test can help determine immunity.


One Size Does Not Fit All

Did you know that a 160 pound Mastiff and a 7 pound Chihuahua both get the same amount of vaccine? Unlike every other veterinary drug, 1 ml of vaccine is given to every dog, regardless of his size. 

If you look at cats, they’re pretty much all the same size. It’s the same with other species like ferrets and horses.

But no other species has such a vast variation in size and weight like the domestic dog does.

This creates a unique vaccination challenge, the consequences of which are starting to surface.

Why is this a problem?

There seem to be a few problems with this approach. Researchers (Moore, Guptill, Ward et al, “Adverse events diagnosed within three days of vaccine administration in dogs” ) looked at veterinary records  gathered from Banfield veterinary clinics for two years to find any trends in reactions suffered three days after vaccination. What they found was that small breed dogs (especially if they were young or neutered), were at the greatest risk.

In fact, the risk increased as the body weight went down, just like a sliding scale. Overall, dogs weighing 11 pounds or less were four times more likely than dogs over 99 pounds to suffer an adverse event (and medium sized dogs also had an increased risk over larger dogs).

Why Are Small Dogs More At Risk?

The answer to that is simple. Vaccines contain only a small amount of antigen for safety reasons; you wouldn’t want your dog to get rabies from the vaccine! So vaccines contain either small amounts of inactivated antigen or, more recently, subunit antigen particles that look like a virus to the body but can’t really stimulate much of an immune response on their own.

So the vaccine needs to contain some pretty toxic ingredients called adjuvants (stuff like aluminum) that make the body respond to vaccines quicker, longer and more actively. These adjuvants create an inflammatory response that can range from a bump at the injection site to allergic reactions, anaphylaxis and even cardiac arrest. With time, they may even lead to chronic allergies, joint disease and cancer – but we’ll stick to adverse events that occur within 72 hours of vaccination, because most vaccine reactions that occur outside that timeframe (and many do!) aren’t considered vaccine related by most vets and aren’t reported.

So that’s why small dogs are more at risk of vaccine damage…they get the lion’s share of adjuvants (and other things like mercury, formaldehyde and foreign animal protein) in their 1ml of vaccine.

The (Not So) Good News

If you have a small dog, the good news is that antibody titers seem to increase as body weight decreases. That means that the little guys should show protection when you titer test them (and you do titer test instead of vaccinating, right?)

The downside is that while high antibodies mean the body has responded to a vaccine, they also mean that the dog is in a pretty inflamed state and can set the stage for auto-immune disorders like allergies, hypothyroidism, diabetes, joint disease and more.

What About The Large Dogs?

Don’t feel too good about this if you own a large breed dog. Because vaccines are tested on medium sized dogs, the large and giant breeds might not be getting enough! This could be why many large breed dogs are more susceptible to parvovirus, even when vaccinated.


What To Do?

It’s a very good idea to run a titer test two to three weeks after the vac. This is good for the big guys, because any amount of titer means he will be protected, likely for life, and won’t need another vaccine.

If you have a small guy, ask your vet to give a smaller dose of the vaccine. Again, thanks to titer tests, you can measure whether the dose was large enough to produce immunity in your dog. If it does, he won’t need another vaccine.

There are inexpensive, in-house titer tests available. If your vet doesn’t offer one, encourage him to do so. Alternatively, pay to have the titer test sent to a lab. It’s worth the money to do so, if it means protecting your dog from unnecessary vaccination.

What About Rabies?

While vets may be able to give partial doses of the core vaccines, the law requires them to give a full dose of the rabies vaccine. This is bad news indeed for the little guys. If you live in an area where rabies is required, make sure you give the vaccine no more often than necessary. It’s also a good idea to have a homeopathic vet on hand to deal with any possible vaccine reactions or issues. You can find a great homeopathic vet at

Remember that adverse events are vastly under-reported and the incidence of vaccine related disease is much higher than you would think.

Are you confused about how often your dog needs vaccines?

You’re not alone … your vet probably is too.

It’s the number one question we are asked. As you’ll find out, most dogs are being vaccinated too often

And that’s dangerous.

So let’s look at the core vaccines and what research has to say about how often they should be given.

But before we do, you should first understand that the core dog vaccines (parvovirus, distemper and adenovirus) are not required by law.

Only rabies is legally required in all states in the US and some (not all) Canadian provinces.

So apart from rabies, nobody can force you to vaccinate your dog with any other vaccine you don’t want to give...Period.


This is a decision best left up to you and your vet. 

But before you decide, make sure you’re aware of the duration of immunity of those vaccines – and the potentially lethal consequences of over-vaccinating.

Because most vets don’t know how long vaccines protect your dog (but don’t worry, we’ve got a handout you can share with your vet at the bottom of this post).

More Is Not Better

When it comes to immunity and duration of immunity for dog vaccines, there’s one clear expert. 

Before his recent retirement, Dr. Ronald D Schultz was one of perhaps three or four researchers looking at how long veterinary vaccines actually last – and he did these studies over a 40 year period.

In fact, it’s Dr Schultz’s work that prompted the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) and AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) to re-evaluate their vaccine schedules. 

Back in 2003, The American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Taskforce warned vets in JAAHA (39 March/April 2003) that:

“Misunderstanding, misinformation and the conservative nature of our profession have largely slowed adoption of protocols advocating decreased frequency of vaccination’; ‘Immunological memory provides durations of immunity for core infectious diseases that far exceed the traditional recommendations for annual vaccination.“

“This is supported by a growing body of veterinary information  as well-developed epidemiological vigilance in human medicine that indicates immunity induced by vaccination is extremely long lasting and, in most cases, lifelong.“

“The recommendation for annual re-vaccination is a practice that was officially started in 1978.”  says Dr Schultz. 

“This recommendation was made without any scientific validation of the need to booster immunity so frequently. In fact the presence of good humoral antibody levels blocks the anamnestic response to vaccine boosters just as maternal antibodies block the response in some young animals.”

He adds:  “The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an unnecessary vaccine is given.

“Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated.”

Below is the result of the duration of immunity testing on over 1,000 dogs and on every major vaccine.

Both challenge (exposure to the real virus) and serology (antibody titer results) are below:

It is important to note that this is the minimum duration of immunity

  Vaccine                                                              Min. duration of Immunity                                         Methods used to                    

                                                                                                                          determine immunity

  Canine Distemper Virus 

  Rockbom Strain                                                         7 yrs/15 yrs                                                      Challenge/Serology

  Onderstepoort                                                            5 yrs/9 yrs                                                       Challenge/Serology

  Canine Adenovirus-2 (CAV-2)                                7 yrs/9 yrs                                                       Challenge CAV-1/Serology

  Canine Parvovirus-2 (CAV-2)                                 7 yrs                                                                  Challenge/Serology

These ceilings reflect not the duration of immunity, but the duration of the studies.

Dr Schultz explains …

“It is important to understand that these are minimum DOI’s and longer studies have not been done with certain of the above products. It is possible that some or all of these products will provide lifelong immunity.“

Dr Schultz has seen these results repeated over the years.  

In 2010, he published the following results on studies with newer generation, recombinant vaccines:

Dogs vaccinated against Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and Canine Parvo Virus Type 2 or 2A (CPV-2 ,- 2A)  and then challenged with CDV (Intravenous) And Intravenous CPV-2C or -2B (Intranasal/Oral)

Number of dogs per group                                     Years since last Vaccine Given                                    Outcome/% of Protection

                    10                                                                                    4.5                                                                                 100

                    10                                                                                    5.5                                                                                 100

                    10                                                                                    5.9                                                                                 100

                    10                                                                                    4.8                                                                                 100

Dog Vaccines: The Dangers

Why is it important to understand Dr Schultz’s work?

Because your dog’s vaccines can create very real health problems.  

Vaccines must be given only when necessary. Every vaccine has the potential to kill the patient or create debilitating chronic diseases including cancer and allergies.

Here’s a list of potential adverse vaccine reactions, according to Dr Schultz:

Common Reactions

Lethargy, Hair loss, Hair color change at injection site, Soreness, Stiffness, Refusal to eat, Fever, Conjunctivitis, Sneezing, Oral Ulcers

Moderate Reactions

 Immunosuppression, Behavioral changes, Vitiligo, Weight loss, Lameness, Hives, Facial Edema, Granulomas/Abscesses,  respiratory     disease, allergic uveitis (blue eye), reduced milk production, atopy

Severe Reactions

Vaccine injection site, Sarcomas, Anaphylaxis, Arthritis, Polyarthritis, HOD Hypertrophy, Osteodystrophy, Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia, Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMTP), Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn (Neonatal Isoerythrolysis), Thyroiditis, Glomerulomephritis, Disease or Enhanced Disease with which the Vaccine was designed to prevent, Myocarditis, Post Vaccinal Encephalitis, Polyneuritis, Seizures, Abortion, Congenital Anomalies, Embryonic/Fetal Death, Failure to Conceive


Dr. Schultz summarizes his 40 years of research with the following:

“Only one dose of the modified-live canine ‘core’ vaccine (against CDV, CAV-2 and CPV-2) or modified-live feline ‘core’ vaccine (against FPV, FCV and FHV), when administered at 16 weeks or older, will provide long lasting (many years to a lifetime) immunity in a very high percentage of animals.”

But the problem is, many vets are ignoring this research …

If your vet is vaccinating your dog every year – or even every three years – he’s vaccinating too much!

Your dog is already protected and the vaccine will give him all of the risk with no benefit.

Protect Your Dog From Disease AND From Vaccine Damage

It’s critical to understand that we need to protect our dogs and cats not just from infectious disease, but also from vaccine damage.

And that recently became a lot easier (and a lot cheaper) …

Pet owners now have inexpensive in-house titer testing (Vaccicheck and TiterCHEK) – titer tests will determine whether your pet has responded to his vaccines and formed immunity. 

With in-house titer testing, there’s never any reason to give any cat or dog over the age of 16 weeks another vaccine without a negative titer test first.

Vets no longer have to GUESS when to re-vaccinate.

Despite these new advances, vets continue to guess anyway.

Most vets still vaccinate every three years or less … and they’re reluctant to use titer tests to avoid potential vaccine-induced health issues.

If you do decide to vaccinate your dog, holistic veterinarians generally recommend the following:

  • Use single vaccines instead of complex vaccines. To avoid the hassle, discomfort and cost of several injections, it is common practice to combine vaccinations into a single shot such as DHLP-P (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus). Holistic vets recommend administering each vaccine one at a time.  Single vaccines may or may not be available in your area, so reach out to a holistic veterinarian if necessary.

  • Only use “inactivated” or “killed” vaccines instead of “modified live.”  They are usually safer since they are certain not to grow inside your dog’s body.

  • If you own a puppy, use a reduced vaccination schedule  Immunized puppies may be good to go for several years or even their entire lives.

  • Do not vaccinate before 16 weeks of age.

  • Avoid annual boosters.  While this is a common practice, there is no scientific evidence that it is necessary.  And don’t be surprised if your conventional vet disagrees – reach out to a holistic vet for verification as this is the latest official veterinarian opinion from the experts in the field of veterinary immunology

Homeopathic Nosodes

Homeopathic nosodes are available for all the contagious puppy and kitty diseases.

With a long history of use in human medicine for polio, whooping cough, diphtheria and more, their use in veterinary medicine goes back to the 1920s.

Although it’s not completely clear, they likely work by creating an energetic protection, filling the open space of susceptibility, or possibly by strengthening the body’s energetic field.

However they work, they’re typically very effective, economical and flexible.

Combined with the six natural rearing principles listed above, they can be used for distemper and parvo from weaning through puberty, or at times of high exposure until about one year old.

Bordetella nosodes may be used at the time of exposure. It’s best to work with a veterinarian experienced in their use as they are a prescription medicine.

Limited Vaccinations

No one can be more perfectly healthy if already perfectly healthy.

Any modification or altering of perfect health will result in MINUS health.

In other words: less than perfectly healthy. Realistically, no one is perfectly healthy but a brand new pup is pretty close, excluding genetic disease present at birth.

The protective power of vaccines is actually due to creating a disease state in the body; low level disease, but disease nevertheless.

For example, the average dog is vaccinated with parvo, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, rabies, Bordetella and sometimes corona and Lyme.

The vaccinations work by asking the body to stay in a low level form of disease to create antibodies which, in theory, provide protection so the body is ready should there be exposure.

This form of protection can work, but at a high cost to health. If the body is in a low level state of parvo, distemper, rabies, etc., then it is never in a high level state of health overall. Low level states of chronic disease are not high level states of vitality!

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