Few issues in veterinary medicine are as controversial as the debate about administering annual vaccinations to our dogs. Long considered part of the standard of baseline, responsible veterinary healthcare, and credited with conquering some of the fiercest canine viral and other infectious diseases, vaccinations now are also suspected of creating vulnerability to illnesses and chronic conditions such as anemia, arthritis, seizures, allergies, gastrointestinal and thyroid disorders, and cancer. The current wisdom is to vaccinate our animal companions enough, but not too much. Fortunately, there is a tool that Roscoe Village Animal Hospital and dog owners can use to determine whether or not a dog really needs further vaccination at any given time. It’s called a “titer test,”
The term “titer” refers to the strength or concentration of a substance in a solution. When testing vaccine titers in dogs, our veterinarians take a blood sample from your dog and has the blood tested for the presence and strength of the dog’s immunological response to both parvovirus and distemper viral disease. If your dog demonstrates satisfactory levels of vaccine titers, your dog is considered sufficiently immune to the disease, or possessing good “immunologic memory,” and not in need of further vaccination against the disease at that time.
By “titering” annually, our dog owner can assess whether their dog’s immune response has fallen below adequate levels. In that event, an appropriate vaccine booster can be administered.
As you can see, in reality, simply administering vaccines to dogs every year is more of a guessing game than using titer tests to learn about the dog’s immune competence. Studies worldwide support titer test results as comprehensive information about a dog’s immunological response capabilities.