BY CHARLIE M. HOLMES
Do we vaccinate our pets too much? That was the question posed Saturday at a seminar organized by the Healthy Dog Project, which is based in Cooperstown, and held at the Fenimore Art Museum.
For the keynote speaker, Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin, the answer is yes. Dr. Mike Bartholomew and Gloria Cestero- Hurd agree. Bartholomew and Cestero-Hurd said they attended Saturday’s seminar because they have had the experience of their own pets being over-vaccinated. For Bartholomew the results were mixed.
His cocker spanieldied, but it also led to a career at a veterinary clinic that takes a holistic approach to treating its patients – Smith Ridge Veterinary Center in Salem. For Cestero-Hurd the results were positive. Her springer spaniel was treated successfully and she found a new mission in life the Healthy Dog Project, an organization she founded and the organization responsible for bringing Schultz to Cooperstown. Schultz’s research began in the 1970s when he was on the faculty at Cornell University.
“At that time we knew that dogs, for example, that got distemper and recovered from distemper could neverget distemper again. I could drown the dog in virus, but it wouldn’t get infected. So it began to make me think why are we doing what we are doing,” he said.
Schultz said he realized veterinarians were not vaccinating pets the same way doctors vaccinated humans. And that realization, he said, led him to wonder just how long the vaccines were protecting the pets.
The results of 30 plus years of research have told him that there are four core vaccines every pet owner should give their pet – Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parvo Virus, Canine Adenovirus Type 2 (aka Canine Hepatitis) and the rabies vaccine.
According to Schultz, in the majority of cases the core vaccines should not be given earlier than 6 weeks of age, and the last dose should be given at 14 to 16 weeks of age. Schultz then recommends titering the dog two or more weeks after the last puppy dose. A titer is a blood test a veterinarian can run on a pet to find out whether a vaccine is still protecting that pet.
“Determine whether you have antibody to parvo and distemper,” Schultz said. “That’s all we need to look at. Don’t need the adeno. And if you do, then you don’t even need to worry about the revaccination at a year.”
From there, Schultz recommends titering the pet every three years, but said he recognizes that some people get peace of mind from titering their dogs annually. Schultz said he is fine with annual titers.
He said: “I have never seen an animal injured by taking a blood test.”
Beyond the core vaccines there are optional vaccines that Schultz says should be administered based on need.
“For example there are many parts of the United States that you wouldn’t ever need to give a lyme vaccination. There are other parts of the United States you would. There are parts of the United States that you wouldn’t need to give a lepto vaccine and there are parts that you would,” he said.
There are also licensed vaccines that are not recommended. For full details on the canine and feline vaccine guidelines visit http://wsava.org/VGG1.htm.
Schultz’s current research goal is to compile enough scientific evidence to convince the government that the rabies vaccine should only be given every five to seven years, but he needs funds in order to keep the research going. To donate go to http://www.rabieschallengefund.
org/donate/donate-to-thefund. Donations can also be made by mailing a check to: The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust, c/o Hemopet, 11330 Markon Drive, Garden Grove, CA 92841.
The Healthy Dog Project is already organizing its 2013 seminar. The topic will be pet food. The seminar is free. To learn more about how to register go to http://www.healthydogproject.org or find the Healthy Dog Project on Facebook.
BY CHARLIE M. HOLMES
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