View Full Version : What to do??? Mary Alice & Vaccinations

27th December 2006, 05:06 PM
We have til late January to decide what to do about Mary Alices' vaccinations.

After reading all the information on your site and others, I am more aware of the negative sides to vaccinations, than I was with Charley.

We *do* live in a city of dogs, have wildlife in our backyards etc.

I spoke with our vet today, he was planning on vaccinating her against almost everything due to lack of paperwork but is willing to do whatever I want.....he no longer uses the "once a year" approach but alternates over a three year period.

What would you do with a rescue doggie??

We want her to be safe from disease but don't wish to cause her harm.

Just curious for other opinions....our vet feels that many who don't agree with *some* vaccines live in rural areas and their dogs are safer than in a very "doggie" city + wildlife. Tx. :)

27th December 2006, 05:36 PM
When I got a 2 year old rescue, she had every shot. THEN the VET decided to do rabies AGAIN after just 1 year because he didn't have a history. I didn't have a chance to object. Angry doesn't begin to cover it. I stopped going there because of it. So at the very least, just 1 rabies shot for 3 years is in order. I am also in a quandary about lepto but I decided not to give it to my puppy. My other dogs have minimal to no other vaccines..

27th December 2006, 06:06 PM
I do the basic booster every 3 years. Rabies is a necessity in many places but we don't have rabies in Ireland so it isn't necessary (nor is heartworm medication). I have done lepto annually; this depends on the number of cases in your area and the types as the lepto vaccine doesn't protect against all strains.

I always vaccinate rescues if I don't know their medical background.

27th December 2006, 06:08 PM
My Vet does not give Lepto, but does recommends all others. Unless the dog has ongoing medical problems, like my Lhasa, who gets none any more. She was at least 8 before he stopped giving them to the Lhasa, so I imagine her antibodies were built up and there was no need.

27th December 2006, 06:13 PM
Do you know anything about her background? Often the puppy shots last almost for life, but to give that series again is probably prudent, but not all on the same day with Rabies. How old is she?

27th December 2006, 07:04 PM
The other question is: didn't the rescue do any of these when they took her in? It would be good to double check with them. Most rescues would not home an unvaccinated dog and have a policy of giving dogs a complete health check. Sometimes there's a reason they have not done this and have not vaccinated and that could be important too. Before possibly subjecting her to a second vax series that she has already had, I'd want to confirm her status with the rescue she came from (assuming it was a rescue and not straight from the pound? I am not sure how you obtained her).

Also I should have added that it is wise to get vet advice on something like lepto, but ultimately you need to make your own decision. Many people choose not to give them. It is a balancing of risk against odds, the dog's health at the moment, personal preference, etc and takes some research and perhaps second and third opinions, if you are not going with the vet's recommendations.

27th December 2006, 07:06 PM
Mary Alice is 2 1/2 years old.

We are her third home, not including a week with the rescue lady.

She's supposedly been spayed but nobody can find a scar or mark.

Her last owner stated that she was vaccinated last January but no paperwork or details.

That's all we know about our Mary Alice.

Our vet has suggested that he do the "core" vaccines and a rabies shot as required by the City.

He's willing to forgo the rabies, if we wish, but has concerns about the wildlife in the area.

As we are surrounded by ravines and cemetaries, we do have a lot in our specific area.

As a rule, he now goes by a three-year protocol, splits the shots up over that time.

Safety and good health for Mary Alice is our main concern.

Thanks for all of your replies. Much appreciated. ;D

27th December 2006, 07:11 PM
Yes, Mary Alice came from a rescue.

The previous owner stated that she was spayed and vaccinated.

After a vet check, with no apparent scar, they called the person, reconfirmed that she was spayed and that the vaccinations shouldn't be done til January. That's why they didn't vaccinate her.

Guess time will tell about the spaying!!

27th December 2006, 10:06 PM
Could the rescue not find out which Vet was used for the vaccinations and spaying? They will then be able to confirm whether these have been done or not. Once you know for certain then you can decide what to do.

I personally would always vaccinate a rescue once the Vet has given him/her a clean bill of health :flwr:

27th December 2006, 10:37 PM
I was told the previous owner was "rather vague" about Mary Alice.

All I know is, this lovely cavalier will never again be abused, she's finally living the life she deserved all along.

As you can see from her photo, she's just beautiful and much loved now!! :)

Mary Alice is a very healthy lady, so we might "go" with the "core" shots and whatever our vet suggests....but I do have more reading to do and very much appreciate the feedback from everyone on the forum.

Owners and breeders seem to have a different "take" on things.

Personally, I think that's not a bad thing!! :)

Cathy T
28th December 2006, 01:52 AM
Mary Alice is such a little sweetpea! Everything I have read indicates to me to go with core vaccines every three years and non-core as recommended and discussed by your vet. If you're comfortable with your vet...I would probably go with their suggestions. Has anyone suggested titering?

28th December 2006, 04:10 AM
Thanks Cathy,

We think she's lovely....Hubby calls her Sweetie!

That's what he called Charley too! :lol:

We've used the same vet for over 30 years....he's one of the best!

He also loves Mary Alice....says she can go live with him anytime! :shock:

No mention of titres yet, isn't that when they're a bit older??

I think I'll do what you suggest, need to do a bit more reading but our vet was familiar with Dr. Dodds protocol.

28th December 2006, 04:20 AM
A Titers test should be able to show if the antibodies from the vaccinations are still present and would be able to fight off the diseases if she were exposed to them.

28th December 2006, 05:29 AM
Titers can also be inaccurate. They can show protection when there is none, and vice versa. I would not use them as a basis for deciding on vaccinating or not.

If I were making a decision I would give her the core vax and rabies, then go to a three year schedule. I would also watch her carefully for signs that she is going into heat given that you are not sure if she is spayed. Generally a rescue rule is never to believe what previous owners have said as people have their own reasons sometimes for not telling the truth (eg thinking they will be charged for a spay) or just remember incorrectly.

Lots of info on the many sides to the vax questions below. Though this is a Q&A from 2000, the 'answers' remain as uncertain and dependent on personal risk acceptance as they are here. ;)


This is a much-respected vet's website. On the issue of titers, he says:

I do not see much value in running titers to assess the immune system
status against the various viral illnesses which there are vaccines for.
High titers are not necessarily a sure sign of protection and low, or even
absent titers, do not mean that there is not protection remaining due to
the presence of active memory cells still programmed to recognize the virus
the vaccine is supposed to protect against. The best test to determine
immunity is a virus challenge but nobody in their right mind wants to use
this standard to determine the protection for their individual pet.

So at present, I think that the best approach is to use a reasonable time
interval between vaccinations based on available information on duration of
immunity. We will probably go to three year intervals in our practice, as a
reasonable compromise between yearly vaccinations, which do not seem
necessary, and taking the risk of loss of protection as a patient
approaches the average time that protection is known to decrease.

and again:

The major problem with using titers to evaluate when to give vaccines,
other than expense, is that there isn't much agreement on what represents
a protective titer at the present time. It is known that some dogs with
high titers will develop distemper when exposed to the virus. It is also
known that some dogs who have been vaccinated but who have no measurable
titer will resist infection when exposed to the virus. The only really
reliable way to tell how long a vaccine will provide protection is to do
challenge studies -- to vaccinate a group of dogs and then expose them to
the virus after specified intervals, to determine how long the vaccine will
provide protection. Ideally, this would be done by each vaccine
manufacturer or an independent party willing to test every vaccine strain.
Once it is known how long a vaccine provides protection, it would be easierto figure out reasonable vaccination intervals.

At the present time, the best approach to deciding how frequently to
vaccinate is to evaluate the potential risks to the patient of the virus
and then the potential risks of the vaccine and then to balance those
against the need for protection. I think that it is usually safe to go to
longer vaccine intervals and that three years is reasonable at this time.

This remains my understanding of the questionability of titers and why I personally would not use them as a basis for measuring immune respone. If you read through the whole page you will also note he states that it is normal for a dog to have some reaction (immunosuppression) for a few days up to a couple of weeks after many vaccines, as this is how vaccines work -- they stress the immune system to get a reaction to develop antibodies. Many people worry if their dog is under the weather for a few days to a week or more after a vax, but this is usually *normal*. The same happens to humans after a vaccine in many cases, depending on the individual and the vacine (I for one know that unlike many/most people, I do not have a reaction to tetanus vaccinations, but I sure did to yellow fever before leaving for Africa a couple of years ago).

28th December 2006, 03:18 PM
Zippy....Mary Alice is abut the sweetest looking Cav I have ever seen, aside from my Lily of course. :lol: She has the most precious little face. How anyone could abuse that little baby is beyond me. Abuse of any animal is horrific, but having a Cav now, and learning about the sweetest of dogs, it just makes me sick to my stomach. How, when they look at you with those eyes, you could do this. I can barely correct Lily, when she looks up at me with that trusting little face. They must have ice water running through their veins. I know I have told you this before, but her name is most precious, and her little face certainly fits her name. I am so happy that she is in a loving home, and will now have a wonderful life with you and DH. She certainly deserves it.

28th December 2006, 05:32 PM
Thanks Shay,

I don't understand how anyone can harm any animal, brutes!!

I'm the only one in the house still calling her Mary Alice, Hubby and daughter have shortened it to Mary! :?

I prefer Mary Alice, it suits her to a tea!!

Over Christmas, I joked about changing it to Merry Christmas!! :lol:

I love your avatar....wish I had a baby pic of Mary Alice!! ;D

28th December 2006, 10:26 PM
Thanks Zippy......Mary Alice really does have a baby face, so I imagine she didn't look too much different. How old is she now? Lily I think, is losing some of her baby look. She is a little over 4 months now, but she never had, IMO, a real baby, baby face. She has a petite, thin little face. It's amazing how much they change, Lily is looking more coltish every day with her long legs and all. She now weighs 11 pounds, but she is very tall I think. Not having any other Cavs to compare her to, and never having one before, I don't know when it will all kinda come together with her. :)

29th December 2006, 08:44 AM
...No mention of titres yet, isn't that when they're a bit older??

I think I'll do what you suggest, need to do a bit more reading but our vet was familiar with Dr. Dodds protocol.

Titers are measurements of immune response at any age.

Jean Dodds and other vaccine researchers have for some time advocated making vaccination decisions based on a detailed assessment of each individual animal rather than just applying a set of guidelines regardless of circumstances. This position is emphatically articulated throughout the 2003 and 2006 AAHA reports on vaccination and by the AVMA and UC Davis Vet medical school among others. They all support these general guidelines (core vaccinations with triennual boosters) and also emphasize that this is a medical treatment first and foremost which has to be prescribed individually for each patient--the health history, current condition, lifestyle, environmental risk factors--all of these vary from individual to individual.

I understand that that's what you are trying to do with Mary Alice, study the options and together with your vet, come to a decision about what to do at the time of her scheduled booster. I like your vet's thinking, the way you describe it.

I consulted with Jean Dodds in email and considering Zack's individual situation and history, she suggested rather than having a first year booster vaccination for distemper and parvo (the core vaccinations) that he have titers to verify immunity from the initial vaccination. I took him to be examined by her and to have titers measured, and his titers were described as adequate, and her advice was to repeat the titers again in a year and not to have the vaccinations.

When i met with her, i asked her about the concern expressed by some that titers were not reliable evidence of immunity. She said this was incorrect, a misapprehension. I'm persuaded by her assessment and opinions, given her expertise, experience, and the esteem she is held in professionally, and by the information I've learned mostly be reading and re-reading the 2003 AAHA report on vaccination. So, i feel OK about having titers and not having boosters. If Zack's circumstances changed, i would want to have a new assessment.

29th December 2006, 05:58 PM
About a dog with an unknown vaccination history, if it was me, i don't know what i'd do. I think it's reasonable to get the core vaccinations, but if there's a possiblity she was recently vaccinated, then there's a reason to hesitate. Titers might be reasonable to check her immune response. At this point, after consulting with Dodds for Zack, i would consult with her again if i had a dog without vaccination history. If you want, you can email her or call her, her contact info is on her website. At first i called her, and she called back a day later. Later i emailed her with questions about what kind of vaccine would be the safest and whether they should be given separately rather then in combo. She replied within a day.

One reason i called Jean Dodds in the first place was that i had learned many labs don't measure titers properly, according to the AAHA report, and the results are not reliable for that reason, and that to be reliable, they need to be done a certain way, and i knew that Dodds's lab would measure them in the way that researchers use and which are considered generally reliable. I later found out that my local vet, who does titers uses that same lab. But Dodds was less expensive, about $35 per titer i think.

I have wildlife in my backyard too (raccoons, possum, squirrels, rats) and was concerned about that, but have found that in my area (from the government CDC website), that reports of rabies are extremely rare, almost nonexistent. You may be able to find information about that in your area on the web, and i think vets know this information too. To get her licensed, you'll need a record of rabies vaccination of course.