To titer or not to titer

I’m always cautious when it comes to ingesting harmful foods or chemicals in my body. I try to eat as healthy as I can, one of many reasons why I am a vegetarian, and keep any and all unnecessary chemicals out of my home and body. It’s not that I won’t take a pain killer if I’m experiencing pain. It’s just that I only take as little as I need to help me cope with it. I believe our bodies are fantastic healers, if we let it do it’s job.

As a dog mom, I also apply the same care toward my dogs and their well being. I feed them a high quality dog food and healthy treats. When I share people food, I only give them healthy snacks like carrots and blueberries, if I share anything at all. I am a true believer that our health reflects our diets. Thus, a poor diet, leads to poor health.

So what about vaccinations? My terrier mix, Kita, is due for her rabies shot this month. According to her veterinarian, she is also due for her other vaccinations - canine distemper and Parvovirus. Because I never board my dogs, I don’t give them bordatella.

Years ago, it was recommended that we vaccinate our dogs every year. Then Colorado State University did a study and concluded that we were over vaccinating out pets. So they changed the recommendations to vaccinating every three years. It took a while to catch on, but eventually vets all over the country changed their protocols. But there was always that lingering question, was this still too much?

When I had my first golden retriever, I vaccinated her as a puppy and got a booster shot a year later. After that I titered her. What are titers? They are blood tests that measure the level of antibodies your pet has against a certain disease, like distemper and Parvo. Mika’s levels were high every year I had the test done. Which theoretically indicated she had immunity from these diseases. Thus, I never re-vaccinated her (except for rabies which all pets are required to have by law).

I had my golden retriever, Izzy titered when she was 6. Both her tests came back low, so I chose to re-vaccinate her. Again, I have always kept my pets rabies vaccination up to date in accordance with local laws, so she gets the rabies shot when she is due. My hope is by vaccinating her, she will have immunity from distemper and Parvo for the rest of her life.

Now that my terrier mix, Kita, is due for her rabies vaccination. I am revisiting this question - should I or should I not titer? In an age when research in health care issues is advancing rapidly, we are constantly learning something new all the time. Lyme disease comes to mind for example. What was recommended just a mere 10 years ago, is no longer the protocol for treatment of a positive diagnosis in a dog that is asymptomatic. But, I digress. One concern about titering is the question of whether the results are a good measure of immunity. Thus, while more and more pet owners are getting titers done, it still remains controversial.

I know that I am leaning toward titering Kita as I have my goldens. Having been a pet sitter for over 20 years, I’ve seen firsthand how vaccines can negatively affect the health of our pets, most often resulting in skin reactions. I am not, however a veterinarian, so I do encourage you to do your own research and make the choice that works best for you and your pet.

Thanks for reading!
xoxo

 
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terrier mix on Florida beach

The best nurses a girl can ask for!

Spring has arrived here in Florida! Though when it’s green pretty much every day of the year, I haven’t figured out what makes this season different than any other one. Except for the pollen. Oh my gosh! Some reports I’ve read have suggested pollen counts are really high this year because of a mild winter. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know my head aches, my throat is scratchy, my sense of taste has decreased, my eyes are watery and just generally don’t feel very good. This isn’t anything new, I’ve suffered from allergies off and on for several years. However, not usually this early in the season. Medication helps alleviate the symptoms, but mostly all I want to do is sleep or just sit still trying to prevent the feeling that my head is going to explode. I’ve had worse symptoms in previous years, so I know I’ll survive this bout. Even if at times, I find myself questioning that!

Being under the weather is also hard on my dogs too. They don’t get as much attention, and because of the pollen, I spend as little time outdoors as possible, which means short, like really short, walks. I can tell my girls are antsy - they have a lot of pent up energy. But they also have been a source of comfort for me.

This weekend for example, when I curled up on the couch and watched TV for several hours (I rarely watch television, so this is a huge anomaly for me), Kita curled up right there with me. Izzy laid at my feet, giving me big brown sad eyes every time I tried to cough up a lung or used up yet another box of tissues blowing my nose. Tillie did her best to fight her way to my side to comfort me in her own way as well…bumping my arm to get me to pet her. It was all very cute and very sweet. Even though it meant mustering up more energy than I felt I had, I truly appreciated the effort my 3 furry nurses made to try to make me feel better.
It’s hard not to feel cranky and irritable when you don’t feel well. I do my best to keep an upbeat attitude, but I know I have my moments when I fail at this. Having these 3 pups to cheer me up does my soul so much good. They may not be able to “cure” me of my ailments, but they sure do make it easier to suffer through these allergies!

Anyone else feel the same way about their furry kids? Leave a comment and share your story!

golden retriever in bed

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

 
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National Mutt Day

Today is National Mutt Day, also known as National Mixed Breed day. Created in 2005, it is celebrated on July 31 and December 2 as a way to embrace and honor all the mixed breed dogs out there.  The hope is to bring awareness to all the mutts that end up in shelters due to overbreeding, and the desire for designer breeds that result in dogs who end up homeless. My husband and I adopted one such mutt, Kita, who has brighten our lives with her spunky, entertaining and adorable personality! Who says mutt breeds aren't the best?

Do you have a mixed breed dog? Share your photos in the comments below! 

terrier mix Penn State University

Featured | Daily Dog Tag

I've been following Beth Patterson at Daily Dog Tag for a while now. She has a great blog where she features all things dog related. I find great recipes, gift ideas for the pups and dog lovers in our lives, adoptables, and pet photography sessions from photographers all over the world. One of my goals this year was to get a blog post of mine featured on blogs like Beth's. I was really excited when she said she would feature my senior session of Kya who included her dog Tux in the photos. You can see it HERE! Be sure to check out the rest of her BLOG while you're there! 

Daily dog tag feature

Hazel | State College pet photography session

One of the questions I always ask my clients is why do they want photos of their fur kids? And what made them decide to call me now? I love hearing how much these special best friends mean to their pet parents. And what makes their relationship so unique. In Hazel's case, her mom told me she had been diagnosed with a heart condition recently. She was afraid Hazel was on borrowed time and wanted to make sure she got some photos before it was too late.

When I met Hazel and her mom to plan our session, I learned that Hazel had been a breeding dog for many years. Four years ago her breeder placed Hazel in the home where she currently lives. Hazel's mom is no stranger to miniature schnauzers, having owned others before. But this one was different. At 12, Hazel has never barked. Nor did she know how to play with toys. When Hazel's mom took her to the vet, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, worms and had to have several of her teeth pulled.

Hazel's mom wanted her to live a life of a dog doing what most dogs do - play, go for walks, and make friends with other dogs. She spent most of her life in a kennel either pregnant, nursing or waiting to be impregnated again. In spite of her lack of socialization, she gets along well with other dogs, and has several dog friends she's met at a local park where she walks daily. 

While not a lively dog, she is very calm, sweet yet a little timid. Hazel's mom told me she is scared of squeaky toys, whistles and loud cars. She thought Hazel would be hard to photograph and didn't expect a whole lot from the session. Although she was a little nervous at times, Hazel was a terrific model. In order to not scare her, I didn't use my sounds like I usually do, instead just watching her, clicking the shutter when something caught her attention and she was looking in the direction I wanted her to. In spite of all the concerns, we were able to capture a variety of images. Even though I kept the session short, she clearly became comfortable the more we worked together.

When I was finished and put my camera down for the final time, Hazel came over to me and curled up in my lap. It was as though she understood her job as well as mine was done and now it was time to really connect. I thoroughly enjoyed working with her. And I can't say how happy it makes me that Hazel has the family she does now. She really hit the jackpot with a loving, patient and understanding mom. One who truly will give her a life so she deserves after all these years of breeding. 

Hazel  the mini schnauzer
Hazel mini schnauzer in summer field
miniature schnauzer in stand of trees
mini schnauzer and wildflowers