Titre testing (serological testing for antibodies present in the blood) can give an idea of how well protected your dog is from previous vaccinations. However, it is not available for every disease and may not be 100% relied on to make sure your dog is protected.
Just for your information, the Oxford English dictionary notes that ‘titre’ can be pronounced ‘tighter’ or ‘teeter’ – just so you know when you speak to your vet.
Your vet might recommend a titre test if:
- You are unsure whether to vaccinate your dog (because previous vaccinations may still be sufficient to give cover and you do not want to vaccinate unnecessarily)
- You are avoiding vaccination because of a specific worry (eg, if your dog previously had an allergic reaction to their booster or if their immune system is not functioning properly).
In these cases, titre tests can give an idea of whether your dog will be able to fight off the diseases they have previously had vaccines for and help decide whether it is safer to vaccinate your dog or miss a booster.
Reference: PDSA, 2019https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/vaccinating-your-dog?_$ja=tsid:67827|cid:841731071|agid:41896001454|tid:kwd-297510131716|crid:222232087333|nw:g|rnd:10616432423478660287|dvc:c|adp:1t1|mt:b|loc:9045864&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjv2Qntn64AIVCPhRCh0QnAEQEAAYASAAEgJqKPD_BwE
Serological Testing to determine the Duration of Immunity (DOI)
(Taken from a WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) article: www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/PDF_old/WSAVA-Vaccination-Guidelines-2015-Full-Version.pdf )
Serological Testing to determine the DOI antibody tests can be used to demonstrate the DOI after vaccination with core vaccines. It is known that a large majority of dogs maintain protective antibody against CDV, CPV-2, CAV-1 and CAV-2 for many years and numerous experimental studies support this observation Therefore, when antibody is absent the dog should be revaccinated unless there is a medical reason for not so doing, even though some will be protected by immunological memory. Antibody determinations to other vaccine components are of limited or no value because of the short time period that these antibodies persist (e.g. Leptospira products) or the lack of correlation between serum antibody and protection (e.g. Leptospira and Canine Parainfluenza). The VGG (BSAVA Vaccinations Guidelines Group) recognizes that at present such serological testing might be relatively expensive. However, the principles of ‘evidence-based veterinary medicine’ suggest that testing for antibody status (for either puppies or adult dogs) should be better practice than simply administering a vaccine booster on the basis that this would be ‘safe and cost less’.
How should you ask for titre testing for your dog?
You can ask your vet to do this for you but it is worth asking them to use Vaccicheck ( www.vaccicheck.com ) which is considerably cheaper than other tests. Prices are not given on the website but it is worth asking your vet for the price as a trusted dog-owner contact of mine reported a very large difference in pricing with no negative quality issues.
How often should vaccinations be given?
Core vaccines should not be given any more frequently than every three years after the 12-month booster injections following the puppy’s first vaccinations, because the duration of immunity (DOI) is many years and may be up to the lifetime of the pet.
WSAVA states that non-core vaccines (Leptospirosis and Kennel Cough) cannot be titre tested and are usually required to be given annually.
Core and non-core canine vaccinations in the UK
An article on the BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association) states the following (summarised article below for ease of reading but for full report please see link):
Core vaccines for dogs in the UK are those which protect against:
- Canine Distemper virus (CDV)
- Canine Adenovirus/Infectious Canine Hepatitis (CAV)
- Canine Parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2)
- The BSAVA website also lists Leptospirosis as a core vaccine although other sources (including WSAVA) list this as ‘non-core.’ Some owners do not renew this after the initial puppy and subsequent year’s booster vaccinations – however, you should always consult your vet for their opinion on the risks and benefits for your dog.
Non-core vaccines for dogs in the UK are those which protect against:
- Bordetella Bronchiseptica (Kennel Cough) either given together with or without the Canine Parainfluenza Virus vaccine. This vaccination should be considered for dogs before kennelling or other situations in which they mix with other dogs.
- Rabies – legal requirement for dogs travelling abroad or returning to the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme
- Canine Herpes Virus – for breeding bitches
- Leishmaniasis – before travelling to endemic areas
- Borrelia Burgodorferi (Lyme disease) – for dogs at high risk of exposure
Other health-related articles you may find of interest are:
- Essential health tests before you buy your puppy
- Keeping your dog healthy this winter
- Dog 1st Aid Kits
© Sally Bartlett