In my last post, I said that I would discuss an alternative to vaccinating every three years after initial vaccines and boosters. That alternative is called a titer test. A canine titer test is a test that your veterinarian can perform; this would be done prior to the vaccinations due every three years. The titer test is a blood test that measures the level of antibodies your dog has to a particular disease. If your dog still has immunity to a certain disease, then the vaccine is unnecessary and could prevent potential risks associated with giving more vaccines.
The test is a high or low reading (most of the time as a ratio) meaning, for example, if the titer test comes back as a high reading for parvovirus, then your dog still has a high immunity against the parvovirus. In some cases, specifically with high titer test results for parvovirus and distemper, it can be assumed that your dog also has a strong immunity to other diseases as well, especially ones that they have already been vaccinated for.
Some things to consider with titer tests: some state laws require a regular rabies vaccine regardless of titer testing results, and some boarding facilities will not accept a titer test as a proof of current vaccination.
The best advice I can give you is to be educated about your dog’s health and to also be aware of potential biases some people might have against titers. Do know that your veterinarian will most likely not offer up a titer test when you come in for your wellness exam, rather, if you would like one done, you might have to ask them yourself. Use your veterinarian as a resource and openly discuss the different options offered for your dog in order to decide what is best for them.
What is your opinion on or experience with canine titer tests?