05 April 2018

Alternatives to Dog Vaccination: The Truth About Titer Testing Dogs

Is titre testing dogs one of the true alternatives to dog vaccination, especially for those concerned about vaccination side effects in dogs? Can it really predict ...

Titer testing dogs vs vaccinations does one really replace the other isn't

it easier just to vaccinate your dog when your vet advises or is this approach actually really harmful well in this video I'll discuss just why you might want to consider titer testing for your dog as an alternative to vaccination and what the titer test blood results really mean hi I'm dr. Alex from ourpetshealth.com helping you and your pet to live a healthier happier life so if that's something you're interested in consider subscribing and hitting that Bell notification below dog vaccinations have had a massive impact on the health of our pet dog population making previously ubiquitous and deadly diseases like parvovirus and distemper much less common if you vaccinate your dog and live in an area with a high vaccine uptake then chances are that your vet may hardly ever see these infections if you want to know more about why your dog should be vaccinated and what diseases they should be protected against then check out my guest video over on McCann dogs that I'll link up here and down in the description below for now though let's say your puppy has had their initial vaccination course finishing at around 16 weeks of age when should you get them vaccinated again well standard recommendations for our core vaccines will be to have a booster vaccine at 6 to 12 months of age and then every three years after this to guarantee that they remain protected our non core or lifestyle vaccines by contrast typically need to have a booster administered every 12 months for our dogs to maintain their immunity if we want to take an individual tailored approach to vaccination however we can instead consider blood antibody titer testing dogs instead of vaccination so this works by measuring the number of antibodies in the blood and using this as a guideline of a dog's immune status so whether they are immune or whether they are still susceptible to disease as a rough summary when a dog is vaccinated one way the body responds by producing something called antibodies so these antibodies are special proteins that can recognize the vaccine bug and help the body to fight the infection you might then think that simply if there are lots of antibodies then a dog will be immune and if there are a few antibodies

a dog will be susceptible to infection well unfortunately it is not this simple the immune system is very complex for most of our lifestyle or non-core vaccines such as canine cough kennel cough leptospirosis parainfluenza and Lyme's disease antibodies do not give us an indication of immunity high antibody levels may be found in dogs who are immune as well as those who are susceptible to the disease as well as those that are actually infected with the disease at the time of blood testing low antibodies levels are exactly the same some dogs will be protected and others will be susceptible to catching that infection so this means that for our non-core or for our lifestyle vaccines re-vaccination at the specified interval which is often annually is the only way to ensure that your dog remains protected antibody titer testing dogs has no benefits for these diseases the situation is different when it comes to the diseases that our core vaccines protect our dogs against namely parvo virus distemper infectious hepatitis or adenovirus as well as rabies with these diseases a high antibody titer test generally means that your pet is highly likely to be protected against the disease being tested for notice that I said highly likely not definitely all lab tests have some degree of error and with vaccine titer test this error may mean that depending on the exact test run there may be a false positive rate of around eight to nine percent so this means that for every group of 12 dogs thought to be immune due to a positive antibody titer test one dog will actually not be immune and should have tested negative and so may still be susceptible to infection let's move on then to what a negative test result actually means when we titer test dogs from the explanation I have already gone through it would make perfect sense that if antibody levels drop below a certain amount then a dog will simply become susceptible to the infection unfortunately or actually perhaps fortunately for your dog this is not always the case and this is because there are parts of the immune system which actually act as almost like a memory center when these detect that the bug they have been programmed to remember is present they may be capable

of really kick-starting the body's immune system back into gear and fighting the infection perfectly successfully even when antibody levels were testing low this doesn't always happen though and low antibody levels may mean that dog is no longer immune to the disease the only way to know for sure would be to try and infect them with the disease and see if they got sick which is obviously not something to be recommended because these are generally deadly diseases that we're protecting against so a positive result is really likely to mean that your dog is immune although it isn't an absolute guarantee and a negative result means that your dog may or may not be immune so if after all this you know that you would not vaccinate your dog if they had a high titer test when should you get your dog titer tested well we can be pretty confident that after the initial vaccination program a dog will be immune for at least three years a very small number of dogs though will be what is known as non responders - and they'll never respond to vaccinations to know if your dog is a non responder or not you can consider titer testing them at about 24 weeks old or at least two weeks after their initial vaccinations that done the next titer test should be done at the next time your dog is said to be due a core vaccination if they are positive then you can think about skipping their vaccinations the next question then is when should they have their next titer test well that is not so simple we know that some dogs will be protected for five for seven for nine years or even longer following vaccination having a positive titer test only tells us that a dog is likely to be immune at that point it doesn't tell us how fast this antibody level is falling and so we're unable to predict just when then titer test will fall below that level needed to guarantee protection this means that in general it is recommended that a titer test is carried out every 12 months to reassess the need for vaccinations in your dog we need to be aware though that this may mean that there may be a period of many months when the titer is low and your dog is no longer protected from disease or they may no longer be protected from disease although this is unlikely to be a common

issue that results in serious disease we just can't tell for sure rabies is a different matter though in many cases vaccination is required by law and titer tests are often not always accepted as a substitute for vaccinations you will need to talk to your vet to find out what the specific requirements and legislation is where you live so I told you it wasn't as simple as you may have been led to believe so why then go through the whole process of getting your dog titer tested instead of vaccinated well the simple reason for this is that there is a risk of side effects with vaccination but are dog vaccine side effects really that serious and common well the simple answer is no for the tremendous majority of dogs vaccination is incredibly safe and vaccine reactions requiring treatment are very uncommon vaccines they effectively trick the body into thinking it is becoming infected and needs to mount an immune response if you have been vaccinated then you'll know that for a day or two you might be feeling a little bit under the weather and our pets are just the same they might be a bit quiet they might be less active they might sleep more and they might go off their food the effects though are generally mild if at all and they're soon back to normal without any need for treatment a very small number of dogs will get more severe reactions that require treatment the list of potential serious reactions is long and they can sound scary but it must be remembered that the actual risk of developing any of these is really very very tiny and the actually link between them sometimes is really not as certain as some people would make you believe ultimately though you need to decide which course of actually you're most comfortable with do you titer test and accept the limitations of this route along with the small risk that this approach may expose your dog to infection do you instead vaccinate when advised by your vets and again except the small risk that this may expose your dog to side-effects which route you choose is up to you cost as well may also be a factor in the decision for you so you should discuss this with your vet I know where I am in the world titer testing is significantly more expensive than vaccinations and so it's not something

that many people are interested in and this may or may not be the case where you live you could of course simply choose not to vaccinate your dog after the initial course and hope that your dog is one of those who is immune for a very long period of time obviously believe that this is by far and away the most risky approach these diseases they are real they are deadly and they are likely to be very much a risk in your area so I'd always recommend any of my clients and canine patients to be vaccinated given what we know at this point in time now I know this might all sound very complex and I've tried to make it as easy to understand as possible but the immune system is a very complicated beast as with most things in pet health while it'd be great to have a clear black and white rule the reality often means that decisions they're more complex and more nuanced than that which is the best strategy for you and your dog I'd love to hear your comments down below and your take on the subject remember if it's your first time here to subscribe to make sure you don't miss out on my future videos and until next time i'm dr. alex from our pets health because they're family