Is titre testing dogs one of the true alternatives to dog vaccination, especially for those concerned about vaccination side effects in dogs? Can it really predict immunity and save your dog from needless vaccination?
Isn’t it easier to just vaccinate your dog when your vet advises or is this approach really harmful?
If you want to know more about why your dog should be vaccinated and what diseases they should be protected against then check out my guest video over on the McCann dogs YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VPDHE8Ev9Q
So do you really need to vaccinate your dog? If we want to take an individual tailored approach to vaccination we can consider blood antibody titer testing dogs as one of the alternatives to dog vaccination. This works by measuring the number of antibodies in the blood and using this as a guideline of a dogs immune status.
When a dog is vaccinated one way the body responds is by producing antibodies. These are special proteins that recognize the vaccine bug and help the body to fight the infection. You might then think that simply if there are lots of antibodies then a dog will be immune and if there are few antibodies a dog will be susceptible to infection. Unfortunately it is not this simple.
For our non-core vaccines, re-vaccination at the specified interval is the only way to ensure your dog remains protected. Antibody titre testing dogs is of no benefit for these diseases.
The situation is different when it comes to the diseases that our core vaccines protect our dogs against. Namely parvovirus, distemper, infectious hepatitis or adenovirus as well as rabies. With these diseases a high antibody titer test means that your pet is highly likely to be protected against the diseases tested.
Notice though I said highly likely, not definitely. All lab tests have some degree of error. With vaccine titer tests this error may mean that, depending on the exact test run, there may be a false positive rate of around 8-9%.
So why go through the process of getting your dog titre tested as an alternative to vaccination?
The simple reason is the risk of vaccination side effects. But are dog vaccination side effects really that serious and common? The simple answer is no, for the tremendous majority of dogs, vaccination is incredibly safe. Vaccine side effects requiring treatment are very uncommon.
They might be a bit quiet, less active, sleep more and go off their food. The effects are generally only mild, if at all, and they are soon back to normal without the need for any treatment.
A very small number of dogs will get more severe vaccination side effects that require treatment. The list of potential side effects is long and they can sound scary but it must be remembered that the actual risk of developing any of these is absolutely tiny. The danger of dog vaccines is incredibly low.
Ultimately you need to decide which course of action you are most comfortable with. Do you titre test your dog and accept the limitations of this route along with the small risks this approach may expose your dog to. Or do you instead vaccinate when advised by your vet and again accept the small risk this may expose your dog to.
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