Why is titer testing not well known? Vet clinics certainly do not advertise it. Do you know about titer testing?
I was surprised how many people had never heard of this testing when I was talking about getting Annika titer tested. They would look at me and say, "You're doing WHAT with Annika?"
I am pro vet care and pro-vaccine, but I am not willing to do things to my dogs that are unnecessary, such as over-vaccinate. A titer is a blood test that looks at your dog's current immunity to the diseases they have been immunized for in the past. It is possible your dog may have enough protection from the vaccines he/she was given as a puppy years later. It is a simple procedure in that you go to the vet, have your pup's blood drawn, and wait for results which may vary from five days or two weeks depending on the lab.
Talk to your vet to see if they perform a titer test. Not all veterinarians are open to this procedure. I recommend finding a vet who will honor your request. It may be your vet performs the test but simply does not advertise it. I know that was the case for me. I called my vet to see if they knew anyone in town who performed the test. I was totally surprised they said they did it right there in the clinic and would send it off to the lab. Who knew? It pays to ask the questions.
State requirements vary from state to state. Titer results may not be recognized, so it is best to check your state's specific laws. Here in Washington State, it is required all dogs must have a rabies shot. Even if the titer test shows they have enough immunity, it is still required. I chose to have Annika titer tested for distemper and parvo.
The titer test cost me about $150 to have done. I understand this can be quite a fee for some people, and it is cheaper to vaccinate. However, in the long run, it might not be. Over the years, the cost of regular vaccinations has added up to more than $150, especially when tacking on a wellness exam each time. I am grateful that, regardless of cost, I am able to afford the test so that I can monitor Annika's immune system and keep her around for as long as possible. I am trying my best to reduce her exposure to chemicals, starting with her regular vaccines.
I got Annika's results back in 7 days. She was "positive" for both distemper and parvo, which meant she had enough antibodies, so a vaccine for distemper and parvo was NOT REQUIRED at this time!
I did have some questions about what to expect next. How long will Annika have enough antibodies? Do I need to test each year or every third year? I talked with two vets, and they said pretty much the same thing. There is not enough research out there to determine how long a dog will have an acceptable amount of antibodies. Vaccines such as distemper and parvo are said to last up to 7 years. This is fantastic, but there is no guarantee, and every dog is different. It was recommended to me to titer test each year to ensure Annika is safe. Again, this is more expensive. I choose to save up for it knowing we do not have enough research showing the side effects later in life due to over-vaccinating. I can't help but think that vaccinating when appropriate will only help Annika live a longer, healthier life.
Also, consider your cats too!
I hope you find this article helpful. My intention is not to change your mind one way or another but rather expose what is available to you so you can make the best choices possible for both you, your pocketbook, and your loved ones.
Questions? I'm always here to help! Feel free to reach out anytime.