Dog Owners Wade Into Vaccine Debate

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Habib has heard all the arguments for the importance of vaccines but remains unmoved, he said. He gets his dogs their rabies shots, but only because they’re required by law. He said he foregoes the remaining core vaccines and opts instead for titer tests – blood tests that measure the level of antibodies the dogs have against various pathogens. Titer tests can serve as proof of an animal’s natural immunity or immunity retained from previous vaccinations.

Cavanaugh said that titer tests are safe and effective, but stressed that vaccines are, too. He also pointed out that titer tests need to be repeated every one to three years and can cost up to four times as much as vaccines.

But Habib said he thinks it’s worth the cost. He said his anti-vax opinions are based on discussions with veterinarians and animal immunologists, and stressed that if he ever has kids, he’ll ask a lot of questions before deciding on a vaccine schedule that he considers necessary and safe.

“Animal or human, you want to be fully informed before you give a vaccine,” he said.

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