Taylah McKeand, 23, with her dog Mowgli. Picture: Liam Kidston
Taylah McKeand, 23, with her dog Mowgli. Picture: Liam Kidston

The jab animal anti-vaxxers use to avoid immunisation

QUEENSLAND anti-vax pet owners are shunning traditional vaccinations for blood tests to test their animal's immunity levels.

The annual jab, dubbed a "titer test", costs $40 to $200 and can be performed by most vets to test a dog or cat's resistance to disease.

Many holistic and alternative vets across southeast Queensland are promoting the test as a safer option, while more traditional vets warn it could put pets' lives at risk, if it's not done properly.

Brisbane vet Dr Evan Shaw said titer testing was fine - as long as the animal had all initial vaccinations before turning one - and as long as results were actioned.

Dr Evan Shaw with Snowy. Picture: Tertius Pickard
Dr Evan Shaw with Snowy. Picture: Tertius Pickard

"A titer test costs the same as a vaccination - so around $85 - but it's a catch-22 because if it comes back and they don't have enough antibodies, then they have to have a vaccination, so that's another injection," he said.

"A lot of diseases mutate over time, they're constantly changing strains … kennel cough immunisation needs to be done yearly.

"Prevention is so much cheaper than the cure - phenomenally cheaper."

Dr Shaw said if owners chose to never vaccinate their pet, or ignored a negative titer test reading they would put their own animal's life and others at serious risk.

"It's pointless - the titer test will show nothing if they've never had the disease or had the vaccination," he said.

But an increasing number of Queensland pet owners are asking for the test, claiming traditional vaccinations will hurt or kill their furry friends.

Taylah McKeand, 23, with her dog Mowgli. Picture: Liam Kidston
Taylah McKeand, 23, with her dog Mowgli. Picture: Liam Kidston

Taylah McKeand, who has a two-year-old rescue border collie called Mowgli, now chooses to titer test after her previous dog, Koda died from complications after being vaccinated, resulting in a $40,000 vet bill.

"I choose to titer test him instead of vaccinating, because of everything I went through with Koda - I thought it was the best thing for him.

"Koda went in to the vet for her annual vaccination and not long after started to show signs of not feeling well, I took her temperature and it was over 40.5 degrees so I rushed her to the emergency vet.

"After a few things were ruled out, we were left with Immune Mediated Hemolitic Anemia … the vets believe the vaccination triggered this immune response due to the time frame and it being the only thing different in her life at the time."

Karla Allen, another pet owner, said she was encouraged to titer test after her dogs showed "incredibly high immunity for the vaccines" after they were vaccinated three years prior.

"I have done titer testing for about seven years … realistically what is the point of putting anything extra into your body or your pets that's not needed at all, its just as easy to get the quick blood test done and get results on the spot," she said.

The Natural Vets' Dr Cassandra Lappin said many decades of research had proven that once an animal's titer stabilises, it is likely to remain constant for many years and is not likely to drop off "unless and animal develops a severe medical condition or has significant immune dysfunction".

"It is safer than vaccinating as it is avoiding unnecessary vaccinations that carry risks … it is our experience that administering unnecessary vaccines to your pet can contribute to fever, stiffness and sore joints, auto-immune attack of the body's red blood cells or platelets causing life-threatening collapse, seizures, thyroid disease or aggressive vaccine-site tumours".