Titer Testing
“An Alternative to the Annual Vaccine”
 

What are Titers?

For most of us, living with our dogs is living with our family. We and our kids often share hugs, snuggle time and sometimes kisses and our beds. So, making sure they are protected against deadly viruses and bacteria is a top priority. Often, we mindfully take our puppies and kittens or newly adopted pets for their recommended vaccines and routinely return when the postcard or email reminder arrives, letting us know they are due for their booster shots.

While we are grateful vaccines can offer critical protection from diseases such as canine parvovirus, canine distemper, feline panleukopenia, rabies and much more, we are increasingly aware of their possible, unintended consequences. That is where Titers come in!

Serum (blood) titer tests are among the tools that dog owners and veterinarians can use to minimize the risks of both infectious diseases and over-vaccinating. Simply put, these tests tell you if your pets previous vaccines are still protecting your pet and if the vaccine is truly necessary. Vaccine guidelines say that titer testing is appropriate to check for immunity to parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis (adenovirus). It is not recommended for canine leptospirosis, bordatella (kennel cough) or Lyme disease, as these vaccines provide a very short-term protection.

Rabies vaccines may offer long term protection and titer testing is available. However, at this time, vaccination against rabies is mandated by law. Even in face of an adequate vaccine titer, your pet, if not up to date on the actual vaccine, will have to follow state regulations including quarantine and follow any additional requirements mandated by the state.

What is Involved?

A small blood draw will be performed, and one of two types of titers will be offered. One type returns a simple “yes or no” answer, however fails to tell us how high the levels of protection actually is. This type of test is affordable and accurate and can be performed in house, however is medically necessary to perform yearly. Another option is more detailed and expensive but may lend more accurate information to the level of protection, not just yes or no. For this reason, this test to be valid for up to three or even five years! (thus less blood draws and possibly less overall expense).

Please note as your pets ages and health status changes, so does their immune system. Thus titer results and when to re-vaccinate can vary based on age, breed, current health status and lifestyle. Mountain View Animal Hospital and Holistic Pet Care’s integrative veterinarians will discuss when your pet should be re-vaccinated or re-tested based on an individual basis.