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Vaccination Titre Testing in Pets

What is vaccination titre testing? A vaccination titre test is a measure of antibody levels. When we perform a vaccination titre test, we’re checking for antibodies against canine distemper virus and canine parvovirus that our core vaccine (the C3) protects against. The diseases the C3 protects against are so deadly that our preference is still vaccination. At My Vet, we use Boehringer-Ingelheim’s Duramune C3, which means your furbaby only requires triennial C3 vaccination.
We have also decided to provide antibody titre testing for cases where vaccinations are not recommended. However, there are still many questions that haven’t been answered with regard to titre testing. We don’t know how long the antibody levels last – will they fall tomorrow or next week or next month or next year? We don’t know if certain antibody levels definitively correlate with protection because of the complex way the immunity works.

How does Titre testing work?
It’s not as easy as just taking a blood sample and having a machine spit out a number. Researchers have worked really hard to determine which number actually means your furbaby has sufficient immunity. Only one test has passed clinical trials – that is, this test has undergone the same rigorous testing you would expect from vaccination companies, so they can prove their vaccines work. Others have only had lab tests performed and may not necessarily correlate with active immunity.

Which test should I use?
The first option is a test offered by IDEXX. This test has undergone the most rigorous testing and is the preferred test. Results showing sufficient antibody titres are proven to correlate with protection against Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper. Turnaround is 21 days as the sample needs to be sent to the United States of America.

The second option is a test offered by VetPath in Western Australia. This test screens for antibodies against Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper but has undergone less vigorous testing compared to IDEXX. The turnover time is usually 3 business days.

Another option is the VacciCheck. This test is a patient-side test, which means that we can perform the test in-clinic with results on the same day. Sufficient antibody titres may correlate with protection against Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, and Canine Adenovirus. However, the VacciCheck is not recommended as the test has not undergone the same rigorous testing.

Our Recommendations
If you prefer titre testing over the triennial C3 vaccinations we use, we would recommend the following:

  • A complete course of puppy vaccines – that means a C3 vaccine at 8 weeks, 10 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks.
  • Depending on your furbaby’s needs, a kennel cough vaccine annually. We recommend the kennel cough vaccine for dogs who board and/or have a very active social life. There is no titre test for kennel cough.
  • The Duramune C3 vaccination is registered for triennial use. Because there is no way to predict how long antibodies will last after 3 years, we recommend annual titre tests after the 3 year mark with an annual health check.
  • If you move, you may need to re-think titre tests depending on the infection risk of the area. If you move to a high risk area, it may be safer to vaccinate. Have a chat with your vet!

Take home note
Your furbaby is an individual! At My Vet, we recommend the triennial C3 vaccine as well as the annual kennel cough and leptospirosis vaccine. Some exceptions where vaccination is not recommended are when a patient is immunocompromised, has auto-immune diseases, has severe vaccine reactions or if they have certain genetic conditions. Otherwise, vaccination is recommended because herd immunity protects those who can’t be vaccinated.

If you’re thinking of titre testing, come have a chat with us, so we can develop a plan for you and your furbaby.