Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Protecting the Herd

Fletcher and Opie protect their friend Ryker
Recently we implemented a new in-house titre test at our clinic. To practice using the testing kit, we ran the blood samples of our staff dogs. Fletcher, at 15 years old, is still protected well over a decade after his last vaccine was given. Opie, at just over a year old, is still protected from the vaccines he received as a puppy. Ryker, who was 18 weeks old at the time of testing, was found to have no positive titre to distemper, parvo, or adenovirus, despite receiving an excellent vaccination protocol. We were very shocked to learn this. In the scientific literature, dogs like Ryker are referred to as genetic "non-responders" or "low-responders". Since they do not respond to vaccination in the same way the rest of the population does, they are more susceptible to getting sick. This is where the concept of herd immunity becomes crucial.

If the dogs around Ryker (referred to as the "herd") are properly vaccinated, the viruses don't have an opportunity to spread and he is protected, even if his immune system isn't working like it should. It's up to us to make sure our pets are protected, for their sake and for the sake of the dogs around them.

In Ryker's case, we decided to vaccinate him with a different brand of vaccine and he was able to respond with a positive titre. Want to learn more about titres? See my recent post about them here:

Vaccine Titres