Vaccination and Titer Testing

We all know that vaccinating our pets is important, but type and frequency of vaccination should be discussed with your veterinarian based on your pet’s exposure, risk, and age.  In honor of Rabies Vaccination Day, September 28th, we shall review the current scientific and legal landscape of current core vaccines:  rabies for cats and dogs (“RV”), Canine Distemper, Adenovirus and Parvovirus (“DA2P”)for dogs, and Feline Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (“FVRCP”) for cats.  We shall also review the data behind titer testingas a safe alternative to vaccination.

Core vaccination protocols are standardized for kittens and puppies.  For example, rabies vaccination is first performed after 16 weeks of age in most states, but as early as 14 weeks of age in California.  This vaccine is good for 1 year in all States.  Thereafter, pets are vaccinated against rabies every 3 years ongoing.  The Rabies vaccine confers excellent immunity.   Proof of current rabies vaccination is required by groomers and pet daycare/boarding facilities, as well as for interstate and international travel.

Vaccine efficacy, longevity and safety has improved over the years.  While most veterinarians are seeing fewer vaccine reactions these days, there are steps a pet owner can take to further minimize the risk of reaction to vaccination.

  • Do not give more than 1 vaccine at a time.
  • Allow longer intervals between core vaccine doses after completing an initial series.
  • Assess lifestyle risks to determine essential vaccines.
  • Implement vaccine titer testing after initial series to determine protective immunity levels conferred and before deciding whether to revaccinate.

Most pets we see in our practice who have a history of vaccine reactions are those who were given 3 or even 4 vaccines at a time!  If your pet has had a vaccine reaction in the past, let your veterinarian know.  She can often use a different brand of vaccine or take steps to pre-medicate your pet with antihistamines and a corticosteroid prior to vaccination.

When your pet is next due for vaccination, talk to your veterinarian about titer testing.  Titer testing is offered for all core vaccines (RV, DA2P, and FVRCP).  Titer testing is most effective when performed 21-30 days after vaccination, but is often performed at time vaccines are due. Titers are checked by obtaining a blood sample and submitting it to a certified labratory. Titer testing can also be considered at the end of the initial series.  Titers can detect whether there is adequate immunity or whether patients need their booster vaccines more frequently than every 3 years.

Marina Village Vet advocates an individualized,“whole pet” approach to vaccination. We will talk to you to evaluate your pet’s lifestyle and disease risks.  We will recommend titer testing at appropriate intervals to asses current immunity.  When vaccines are warranted, we will give them singly to minimize the risk of adverse reactions.  With these individualized and science-based measures, we will maximize your pet’s health and disease protection.