What You Need to Know About Dog Vaccination and Titer Tests

What You Need to Know About Dog Vaccination and Titer Tests

Vaccinations protect humans from infectious diseases. Similarly, dog vaccinations also provide dogs with immunity from illnesses such as canine parvovirus, distemper virus, rabies, and more. Therefore, it is important for dogs to be routinely vaccinated to maintain good overall health. However, while vaccines prevent them from falling sick, unnecessary shots can still pose a health risk as well. This is when titer tests come in. Titer tests for dogs keep you informed on the diseases that your dog currently has protection against.


What is a Titer Test for Dogs?


Titer tests for dogs measure the level of antibodies they have against a particular disease by testing a sample of their blood. Antibodies are produced by your dog’s body in response to an antigen or stimulus, and a titer test measures the specific antibodies to determine whether your dog has the immunity to fight a disease. 


How Does Your Dog’s Body Produce Antibodies?


Vaccines introduce an altered version of the actual disease into your dog’s body to trigger their immune system into fighting it. In order to fight these viruses or bacteria, their body needs to produce antibodies that act as “fighters” to kill off the disease. The same process happens within your dog’s body when they suffer an infection. 


The veterinarian will draw a small amount of blood and run it through the titer test. Results will be expressed as a ratio. A high titer number indicates that your dog has enough antibodies to fight off any disease while a low number means your dog may not have immunity. However, this only applies to Canine Distemper virus, Canine Adenovirus, and Canine Parvovirus.


However, a titer test only displays your dog’s immunity at the time the blood sample was taken as antibody levels can change quickly due to numerous factors—stress, vaccinations, medications, health condition, genetics, and maternal antibodies in younger dogs. 


Should my Dog Get a Titer Test?


Titer tests for dogs are important in certain situations but they are not required unless:


    • Your dog travels often and is frequently exposed to diseases
    • Your dog has adverse reactions to vaccines
    • Your pet is ill, especially with immune-mediated diseases or cancer
    • Your pet is taking medications that affects their immune system
    • Your pet is a newly adopted adult dog with an unknown vaccination history. 


However, the truth is, titer tests for dogs are usually not recommended. This is because vaccine titers do not promise 100% protection against diseases, have a high potential for errors in results, and they only give a snapshot of your pet’s antibody levels at a single point in time but tell you nothing about future immunity. 


How to Keep Your Dogs Safe from Infectious Diseases?


To keep your dogs safe from infectious diseases, you’ll need to work closely with your veterinarian to create a preventative routine that includes regular tests and vaccinations. A consultation with your veterinarian should occur once every six to 12 months, your dogs must be kept protected from fleas and ticks through prescriptive oral or spot-on medication, and frequently monitored for intestinal parasites. Heartworm status may not require regular monitoring if your pet is up to date on his vaccinations.


My Family Vet Clinic and Surgery offers a variety of diagnostic tests and dog vaccination services. We operate as a walk-in clinic and our operating hours can be found here.

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