Myths about thyroid disorders, vaccines in pets

And the truth about thyroid disorders and vaccines

By W. Jean Dodds, DVM

June 23, 2016 12:29 pm

As a veterinarian for more than 50 years and still actively involved in our profession, I feel compelled to write about two legends that persist among us regarding thyroid disorders[1] and vaccines. I deal with these misunderstandings every week, not only in communicating with colleagues but also from their frustrated clients.

Thyroid Disorders

We all realize that thyroid dysfunction disorders are the most commonly seen endocrine condition of dogs and the second most common of cats, after diabetes. We also know that dogs typically get hypothyroidism, that much of it is caused by heritable autoimmune thyroiditis and that older cats suffer from hyperthyroidism.

As the thyroid gland regulates metabolism of all body cellular functions, reduced thyroid function can produce a wide range of clinical manifestations, many mimicking those of other causes. Thus, recognition of the condition and interpretation of thyroid function tests can be problematic.

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All animals are not the same.

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Vaccines

Animals properly immunized against the clinically important viral diseases have sterilizing immunity that not only prevents clinical disease but also prevents infection, and only the presence of antibody can prevent infection.

An animal with a positive antibody titer test against these viruses has sterilizing immunity and should be protected from infection. If that animal were vaccinated it would not respond with a significant increase in antibody titer but instead may develop a hypersensitivity to vaccine components (e.g. fetal bovine serum, adjuvants). One should avoid vaccinating animals that are already protected.

Furthermore, protection as indicated by a positive titer result does not suddenly drop off unless an animal develops a serious medical problem such as cancer or receives high or prolonged doses of immunosuppressive drugs.

Viral vaccines prompt an immune response that lasts much longer than that elicited by other microbes and by classic antigen exposures. Lack of distinction between the two kinds of responses may be why practitioners think titers can suddenly disappear.

But not all vaccines produce sterilizing immunity. Those that do include distemper virus, adenovirus, and parvovirus[2] in the dog, and panleukopenia virus in the cat. Examples of vaccines that produce nonsterile immunity would be leptospirosis, bordetella, canine influenza, rabies virus, and the herpesvirus and calicivirus upper respiratory viruses of cats. While nonsterile immunity may not protect the animal from infection, it should keep the infection from progressing to severe clinical disease.

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Dr. Dodds is the founder of Hemopet, a Garden Grove, Calif., animal blood bank, greyhound rescue and veterinary diagnostic laboratory. She is a proponent of minimum vaccine protocols.

Originally published in the June 2016 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today![3] 

Endnotes:
  1. thyroid disorders: http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/January-2012/How-To-Test-Interpret-Thyroid-Function/
  2. parvovirus: http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-parvo/
  3. subscribe today!: https://order.kenilworth.com/vpn/subscribe.php

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