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These days we are becoming more & more aware of risks that come with vaccinations, also in dogs.
Especially Shelties can have a sensitive reaction to medication. This has to do with an abnormalty in the MDR1 gene. It is of importance to make wise and responsible choices when it comes to vaccinating your Sheltie… Perhaps a titer test is a good alternative!

Read more about vaccinations, the risks with Shelties and titer testing.

Dogs & Vaccinations

When you own a dog, it is important to be responsible about vaccinations.
Almost naturally vets will vaccinate every single dog according to this schedule:
(* this will depend on the country you live in, this is for the Netherlands)

When: Vaccination for:
6 & 9 weeks parvovirus, canine distemper
12 weeks parvovirus, canine distemper, leptosporoses and HCC (hepatitis)
12 months  parvovirus, canine distemper, leptosporoses, HCC (hepatitis) and kennel cough
every 3 years, from the age of 1   parvovirus, canine distemper, leptosporoses, HCC (hepatitis) and kennel cough
every year, from the age of 1 leptosporoses and kennel cough

Previously, studies showed that the average dog was protected for about 3 years after vaccinations. Nowadays studies show that it depends on the dog, some are still protected for longer than 3 years while others are not.

If a dog is still protected after 3 years of the vaccination and you decide to vaccinate again, besides of health risks that I will explain further along, it will not work and the body will not use this vaccination.
It turns out to be totally useless to vaccinate your dog if you do not necesseraly know if the dog needs it…

Dangers of Vaccinations

Besides all positive consequenses of vaccinations, there are lots of studies that show the side effects of vaccinating dogs.

Dr. R. Mendelsohn: there is a growing theory this last decennia, that there is a link between auto-immune diseases, like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lymfomia and leukemia.’

Through the years it also became clear that vaccinations can cause health risks, because the immunesystem is repeatedly activated in an unnatural way. Most harmful consequences are only noticeble in the long term, like the development of auto-immune diseases, allergies and cancer.
Often these diseases are not linked to vaccinations, but nowadays it appears to become more common to think about vaccinations when searching for a cause of a disease.

Vaccinating a dog is always an attack to the immunesystem and research shows that the quantity and lifespan of antibodies can be very different in every dog! So why should we still use a standard schedule when vaccinating dogs?!

Shelties & Vaccinations

Shelties can develop a sensitivity for medication, this is a genetic problem in the MDR1 gene.

This means you should always be very careful when treating your Sheltie at the Vet and giving them medication.
Breeders have been very aware of this gene and almost every breeder will test their Shelties DNA for the MDR1 gene, before breeding them.
To know the status of the MDR1 gene (clear, carrier or affected) means you can make a responsible decision in choosing the dog for a mating. This way breeders can make sure that puppies will have a clear MDR1 gene status.
It is very important to discuss this with your breeder & vet!
This is in my opinion another important reason to always buy from a responsible, purebred breeder.
Always ask your vet if they are aware of the MDR1 gene, before treating your Sheltie…they might have to use an alternative in medication.
I experienced this with Butters when visiting a new clinic last year. He needed medication and I asked the vet if it was safe for breeds sensitive to the MDR1 gene. She needed to look it up because she wasn’t sure and then changed to a different medication. I hope I made this vet aware of the MDR1 gene.
Now Butters is MDR1 clear, so he is not affected by a sensitivity to medication, but I always like to be careful and in this case, make the vet aware for when they treat other dogs! 

Titer Test; alternative for useless  vaccinating

Titer Tests are becoming more common in the last couple of years.
It is a great alternative for the standard vaccination schedule, but it doesn’t mean that the dog does not get vaccinated at all anymore!
It simply tests the level of antibodies in the blood of your dog and this way you can see wether your dog needs a certain vaccination, or if they are still protected and don’t need a vaccination.
A titer test will test for 3 diseases, parvovirus, canine distemper & HCC (hepatitis). The vet will take a sample of blood from the front leg of the dog and will run a test. This usually only takes 30 mins, if the results show that all antibodies are high, your dog does not need any vaccinations.
Sometimes, it will show up low for example parvovirus, but the other 2 are high enough. This dog will only need a vaccination for parvovirus.

Only leptosporoses and kennel cough can not be titer tested, so if you want to protect your dog you can still decide to vaccinate this every year.

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My experience with Titer Testing

Butters & Duke have been titer tested a couple of years ago and 3 years before that were fully vaccinated.
Lily was fully vaccinated as a puppy, at 12 weeks old she’s had all the vaccinations. Now at 1 year old I decided to titer test her…
Taking blood from Butters was quite a challange, it took lots of tries to get some blood, but he stayed calm as always! Eventually we got some blood for the test…Duke & Lily were fine and the vet got some blood at the first go.
In the afternoon I got a call that all 3 had enough antibodies still and no-one had to be vaccinated. Now I have to come back in 3 years for another titer test.

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Butters
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Duke
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Lily

How much?

NOTE: Costs can vary at different clinics.

I paid around โ‚ฌ39,00 per dog for a titer test and health check by the vet. If it turned out one of the Shelties needed to be vaccinated, I would pay this vaccination with 10% discount.

As you can tell, it is not necessarely cheaper to have your dogs titer tested.
But at least you do not pay for unnecessary vaccinations that will not even work when your dog does not need them!

I will continue to Titer Test my dogs, I think it’s the way forward and such an important evolution in vaccinating pets.

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