Titre Testing and Vaccinations in Dogs.
Many people believe that titre testing may be the answer to the problem of over vaccination in our companion dogs, so this Holidays4Dogs article will examine what the possible benefits of this simple blood test are and how this relates to vaccination protocols.
A titre test consists of a laboratory analysis of a blood sample which measures the antibodies to disease in the bloodstream. Antibodies are produced in the body by the immune system when the body detects a virus or bacteria and this response can be induced by a virus or from the vaccination itself.
This simple blood test therefore, can help inform decisions about whether or not to vaccinate a dog and as more practitioners and owners become enlightened about the issues of over vaccination, it is now becoming more and more acceptable that vaccination programmes should be tailored to suit the requirements of each individual dog. In fact, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), UK states;
“The BSAVA strongly supports the concept that a tailored vaccine programme should be applied to as many animals as possible within a population to maintain the level of protective immunity within that population”
The Core diseases of dogs are distemper, infectious hepatitis and parvovirus and it is now thought that most dogs will develop immunity from their puppy vaccinations for many years after. Titre testing can show whether circulating antibodies are present which will protect the dog from these diseases and this is particularly useful for puppies or with dogs with an un-known vaccination history.
The practice of repeat vaccination is thought to be unnecessary by a growing number of professionals and indeed there is evidence to suggest that vaccines could be the source of numerous health issues among pet dogs.
However, there are also many scientists who know that titre testing is not always a useful gauge of whether a dog is immune from a disease or not, especially if there is a long time gap between when the dog was last vaccinated. Low titre results, according to one veterinary medicine expert, Janet Tobiassen Crosby, do not necessarily mean that protection levels are low, so even with titre testing, dogs could still be vaccinated unnecessarily.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), states that core vaccines should not be given more frequently than every three years after the initial puppy vaccination and twelve month booster injection and they base their guidelines on the latest research and recommendations from immunologists worldwide. Furthermore, the WSAVA promote the use of titre testing rather than routine vaccination which is still generally normal practice in Europe and America.
New test kits now make titre testing a simple procedure that can be carried out by vets in-house, with results available in around twenty minutes. The Pet Welfare Alliance has written to all veterinary practices in the UK and provided details of the titre testing kits (VacciCheck) available to them, as well arranging a discount for them with suppliers. Letters have also been sent to boarding establishments, rescue groups, training clubs, breeders and insurers asking them to include in their company policies, current scientific guidelines in relation to vaccination.
Many licensing authorities for animal boarding do not stipulate that vaccinations should be ‘annual’, only that they should be ‘current’. According to Cliverton Insurance, (underwritten by Amlin UK), as long as boarding establishments comply with their local authority licensing rules, the individual establishment can decide on their own vaccine policy.
Holidays4Dogs never boards dogs from more than one family at a time, so strange dogs are never mixed together at any time. While we do require dogs to be vaccinated, we can also accommodate owners with alternative approaches to vaccination, such as homeopathy or Titre testing.
With regards to insurance policies and titre testing there are some companies such as Animal Friends or healthy-pets.co.uk who do not require annual vaccination, but they won’t provide cover should the dog develop the disease you haven’t vaccinated for.
Sources: Canine Health Concern; Holisticvet, Bath UK; Pet Welfare Alliance,