A titre test is a blood test that can be used to assess an animal’s immune response to previous vaccines. Any Vet is able to access laboratories that provide titre testing.
Dogs are routinely tested for Distemper and Parvovirus antibodies, and only test Infectious Hepatitis antibodies if there is a need to do so.
Routine Wellness examinations are an essential component of proactive pet health care. Vaccination booster appointments should not be relied upon as the only reason to return to your Vet. Regular comprehensive nose-to-tail examinations are the best way to detect any changes in your pet’s health.
The Vaccination Guideline Group (VGG) of the WSAVA recommends that vaccines be defined as core, non-core or not recommended.Core vaccines should be administered to all animals to protect them against severe, life-threatening diseases that have a global distribution. Non-core vaccines are required only by those animals whose geographic location, local environment or lifestyle places them at risk of contracting specific infections. Not recommended vaccines are those that have insufficient scientific evidence to justify their use.
According to the guidelines, all cats and dogs should be protected against core vaccine components. However, no vaccine is risk-free, and thus, unnecessary vaccinations should be avoided. Vaccination intervals are generally based on the minimal duration of immunity (DOI) as determined in experimental vaccination challenge studies. Modified live-virus vaccines induce a strong humoral and cell-mediated immune response, and vaccination challenge experiments have provided excellent data demonstrating that there is a good correlation between vaccine-induced antibody titres and protection against these virus-induced diseases. This has been shown specifically for the core components against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, and canine parvovirus in dogs and feline panleukopenia virus in cats. Although many guidelines recommend at least three-yearly boosters for these viral core components, results of experimental and field studies indicate a much longer persistence of protective antibodies, that even persists lifelong in some animals. Thus, for the individual animal, an antibody titre can be determined to decide whether revaccination is necessary by either sending a serum sample to a diagnostic laboratory or by evaluating the presence of antibodies in the veterinary practice using point-of care tests.
Adult dogs properly vaccinated with Distemper/Parvovirus/Infectious Hepatitis (C3) vaccines can have immunity to these diseases for seven years or longer, and in some cases for their life, in the absence of any repeat vaccination. The minimum duration of protective immunity in an adequately immunised animal is three years. This means that once pups have received their initial course of core vaccines and have mounted an effective immune response, they may not need the C3 component of vaccine ‘boosters’ any more frequently than three-yearly, or possibly ever again.
Studies done with recommended feline vaccines (Feline Panleukopaenia Virus, Calicivirus and Herpes Virus Type I, known as F3 vaccines), have shown a minimum duration of immunity for these core vaccines of greater than three years. Panleukopaenia protection is usually lifelong.
Vaccine ‘boosters’ in an adequately protected animal do not boost their immune status at all, but can over-stimulate the immune system and increase the likelihood of side effects.