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The Truth About Titer Testing

30 CommentsMonday, 22 April 2013  |  Kate

What Is a Titer Test?

A titer test (pronounced 'tighter') examines a blood sample to see if it contains enough antibodies and from this it can be determined whether or not the level of antibodies in the body are adequate. A blood sample is taken and then sent to a laboratory where the testing is done. When a foreign body enters the system (like a disease or virus) it will provoke the immune system into fighting back so titer testing is very important to ensure the body can protect itself.

Why Have a Titer Test?

Titer Test A titer test examines blood samples

Vaccinations can be expensive for your pets and they can soon add up if you or your vet is unsure which ones they need. This is why titer testing is important as they can determine whether your dog needs vaccinations and can keep you from shelling out for unnecessary ones. It is the opinion of most experts and vets that a strong titer is a far better indicator that a pet has immunity to a disease than actual vaccinations are.

How Does It Work?

One millilitre of blood is taken from the sample given which is then diluted. Titer levels show how many times the blood can be diluted until there are no antibodies present. Titer levels are given as a ratio so if antibodies are present in the blood after a sample has been diluted 1000 times then it is a strong titer with a ratio of 1:1000. If no antibodies are present after the blood has been diluted twice then it is a very weak titer.

Why Should You Consider It?

Titer tests vary from practitioner but the preferred kind of titer test will look for parvovirus and distemper in the antibodies as these are the most important viruses to check for. Checking for these diseases will let you know whether your dog needs to be further vaccinated or not. Titer testing can conclude if a puppy has had vaccinations or not and is also very useful for determining what vaccinations an animal with an unknown medical history might need.

How Much Should It Cost?

Most titer tests vary from practitioner and different kinds of test will cost different prices (such as a rabies titer test). Most vets do not actually perform the titer test they merely take a blood sample then have it sent off to a laboratory to be tested. Titer testing usually costs about the same (maybe a little extra) as a vaccination and the results will determine whether or not your pet actually needs vaccinations. Most of the actual costs of titer testing will come from the delivery costs of shipping the blood sample to the laboratory the vet uses. Unfortunately you can't cut out the middle man as most laboratories that carry out titer tests only deal with vets. 

Where Do You Get One?

Ask your vet for more advice about titer testing as they'll have their own methods and price range and can give you specific information regarding your pets. Remember that you will need to wait a minimum of 14 days after any vaccination before a titer test will be effective at producing measurable results.

What to Do If Your Vet Insists On a Vaccination Instead?

You have the right to choose what's best for your pet regarding their treatment options. If your vet is really pushing you towards a vaccination without performing a titer test then get a new vet because it's completely up to you. Titer testing is not vital but if you choose not to annually vaccinate your dog then you must titer test instead to ensure that your dog has enough antibodies in their system to keep them protected.


Donna
Tuesday, 4 November 2014  |  11:43

One of my dogs contracted an auto immune disease at the age of 1, and im sure this was caused by his vaccinations, so I will ask my vet about doing this test for all of my dogs.


Julie
Tuesday, 13 June 2017  |  13:13

My small dog has also got a auto immune illness she is 2 years old and has been ill since her last immunisations . Something needs to be done to make people aware of the risks of over immunising our beloved pets and someone needs to be held responsible for the adverse affects vaccinations are causing .... I'm so angry !!!


Alison
Saturday, 6 January 2018  |  13:24

My dog was very ill after her first booster at 14 months old, she has never put the weight back on that she lost and looks as if I don't feed her enough. The vets are very evasive whenever I've asked for their opinion. It's infuriating.


Kery
Monday, 2 March 2015  |  20:50

I prefer this method,but my only concern would be boarding my dogs.
Would they be accepted if they had the Titer test?


Kate
Tuesday, 3 March 2015  |  10:31

Hi Kery

I'm not sure, you would have to ask the individual boarding kennels about their policy.

Kate


Angi
Wednesday, 4 July 2018  |  17:07

I would take the test result to your vets, ask them to sign it off as
'Tested IMMUNE' or words to that effect and i am sure the boarding kennels will accept this.


Jo
Tuesday, 9 June 2015  |  17:25

Ive phoned loads of vets, they either refused to titer test, or say it is far too expensive as each disease tested is charged for, not the 1 bloods taken


Pat Pearson
Friday, 19 February 2016  |  21:10

Contact Canine Health Concern
www.canine-health-concern.org.uk and ask them for vets in and around your area that do Vaccicheck ....a titer test that can be done while you wait


Beth
Thursday, 26 January 2017  |  19:58

My vets also said this until I was going elsewhere then there was a cheaper option


Angela Wheate
Friday, 26 June 2015  |  16:56

I have been trying to find a vet to perform this test, most are at best dismissive and a few are even agressively defensive. Is there a register of vets who are happy to Titer test.?


Kate
Friday, 4 December 2015  |  12:34

Hi Angela

Sadly not, as far as I know anyway. You're looking for an antibody test. Having said that, there is good evidence that dogs who have had the first vaccinations and the first booster are immune for 7-9 years anyway and that's all they need.


Suzi
Sunday, 6 September 2015  |  18:23

How do you know when to vaccinate your pet is a titer test a yearly test?


Kate
Monday, 7 September 2015  |  15:42

Hi Suzi

Probably every three years as that's the recommended vaccination intervals. Many vaccines now show a seven year life so every three is more than enough.

Kate


Kate
Friday, 4 December 2015  |  12:35

Hi Suzi

Your dog should be covered if they have had the first lot of jabs followed by the first booster at 15 months or so. Read the WSAVA guidelines for more information http://www.wsava.org/guidelines/vaccination-guidelines


Louise Collins
Monday, 4 January 2016  |  16:58

What do you do - or what will you do with Nikita when she is due Kate?


Kate
Tuesday, 5 January 2016  |  8:36

Hi Louise

Nikita won't be vaccinated again. She was 6/7 at a guess when I got her and vaccinated in order to enter the UK. She will have a lifetime immunity now as most vaccines are good for a lot longer than three years.

There are some updated vaccination guidelines I got my hands on last night, will be writing about it soon.

Cheers
Kate


Susan Lever
Tuesday, 9 August 2016  |  17:45

my pup was vaccinated at 8 weeks can I get titre test done to see if he needs any more puppy jabs


Kate
Thursday, 11 August 2016  |  12:09

Hi Susan

It's vital you get the full immunisation for your puppy or kitten. First vaccs are often done by 14-16 weeks, then get the first adult booster.

You follow a schedule as your dog will have inherited immunity from it's mum. How long this lasts varies and what your vet is trying to do is provide coverage once that immunity has worn off.

After the first adult booster you are probably set for life and that is when titer tests become a great resource and you can judge whether or not your dog is covered based on the titer test results.


Mark Gilmour
Tuesday, 4 October 2016  |  8:32

My 9 year old Cocker spaniel recently had an adverse reaction to the Lepto 2 vaccine booster, he has had an infection in his feet (yeast we are told) and was in for a check up and his booster, The following day his temperature soared ,he was violently sick over a period of an hour or so eventually collapsing,so we took him to the vet where he was administered antibiotis and an anti inflamatory. we were told it was unlikely this reaction was due to the vaccine booster but having done some reading i am shocked to read about how dog owners can become unwittingly complicit in the ill health of their pets by having them annually vaccinated.


Kate Bendix
Tuesday, 22 November 2016  |  11:45

Hi Mark

Vaccines are essential to preventing core diseases, in humans and our pets. But we over vaccinate our pets like no one else I think. The WSAVA vaccine guidelines now state that all dogs should have their core vaccines done to the schedule set up for puppies, followed by a booster after one year to assure full immunity. After that, boosters should only be given every three years, even though most dogs will have a lifetime of immunity from those first vaccinations. The problem we have is that vets are under huge pressure to get our animals in for their check up and routine treatments as these form the backbone of their business. These check ups should be just that, not an opportunity to revaccinate an already protected animal. This is why titer, or antibody, tests should become the norm. They do require a blood sample to be taken but the owner will have peace of mind, the pet will be covered and the vet will have an income. We're all happy!


Deborah Sell
Monday, 4 September 2017  |  12:15

Hi Kate,
I have x4 dogs, Dad, Mum & their two Daughters Jrt x Patterdales. The Dad is turning 12 yrs old this yr & I am looking at having him titre tested now, just reading a comment about dogs developing allergies after their annual boosters has struck a code with me as Dad always seems to be itchy, has been on steroids when younger & Mum is just about to be referred to Liverpool due to itchy skin to the point of infection all her life now 6 yrs old, this is really concerning me, could this be due to over vaccination? Many thanks!


Gillian Selby
Wednesday, 21 March 2018  |  12:21

Last June my dog had his boosters and several hours later had a grand mal fit .. I thought he was dead ... Iím convinced it was due to his booster lepto4 and cure vaccine. I will not be having any more annual boosters .. I feel Iím protecting my boy better this way than having boosters !!!


Shirley Silvers
Saturday, 4 March 2017  |  8:45

PLEASE help me, I am so concerned having just read about dogs becoming ill following vaccination. My Yorkshire Terrier, female will be six years old on 15/06/2017, I am listing the dates and vaccinations that my Dog has had since she was born, I will welcome your advice,
15/08/2011...Duramune. DAPPI+LC
20/08/2011.. Duramune..DAPPI+LC
06//09/2012..Nobivac Lepto 2...Nobivac DHPPI.
20/05/2013. Nobivac KC...Nobivac LEPTO 2..Nobivac DHPPI.
24/05/2014.Nobivac L4
20/06/2014.Nobivac L4
19/05/2015. Nobivac DHP .Nobivac L4
28/06/2016. Nobivac L4
I am terrified that my little dog has been overdosed with so many vaccinations, my Vet has said that these vaccinations have been important.
PLEASE advise me on my course of action.
Kind Regards
Shirley Silvers


Kate
Wednesday, 5 July 2017  |  14:32

Hi Shirley

Have a look at this group on Facebook if you're worried about Nobivac 4.

Otherwise just ask for a titer test, also known as an antibody test from now on.

Kate


Mill
Friday, 14 July 2017  |  13:53

Hi. My dog turned 1 y.o. and had her puppy vaccines before 14 weeks of age. She had an unusual recurring eye condition that started when she was 4-5 months old which at first was diagnosed and treated as an infection (though did not look like one at all) but after 3 more episodes during winter and spring was re-diagnosed as an allergy, left without any vet treatment and now cleared off completely. As I'm concerned about this allergy (my dog's breed is not susceptible to eye problems or allergies). I'm trying to avoid any factors that could bring this allergy back, including unnecessary vaccines. I'm looking into titer testing, but is 1st year booster still necessary anyway, or can she still be protected from the puppy jabs? Thank you.


Kate
Wednesday, 26 July 2017  |  12:20

Hi Mill

It's recommended dogs have their first booster then titre test after that to make sure there is full immunity. If you're concerned though speak to your vet and ask for an antibody test anyway. There's only one way to find out!

Kate


David
Sunday, 15 April 2018  |  21:44

His Does anyone know if worming tablets or injections can have the same adverse reactions. We travel to France with our pup every year and coming home the vets always insist on giving a worming shot instead of a pill (saying the dog may vomit up the pill and therefore not be covered)
Thanks


David
Monday, 16 April 2018  |  11:20

I have just been told by my vet that a titre test only shows the level of protection ON THAT DAY. Is this correct ?


Kate
Monday, 16 April 2018  |  11:47

Hi David

Yes, of course it would but there is good evidence to support that many vaccinations after the puppy schedule and first booster offer a Duration Of Immunity (DOI) of the lifetime of the animal.

Please have a look at the WSAVA vaccination guidelines of 2015 which state that (with the exception of leptospirosis I think) vaccinations shouldn't be given at intervals of any less than three years apart, and that for many dogs immunity will be lifelong. http://www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/PDF_old/WSAVA-Vaccination-Guidelines-2015-Full-Version.pdf

Unfortunately if you're travelling to mainland Europe you don't have a lot of choice over the wormer. If you would rather a tablet than an injection maybe ask another vet?

Kate


Kate
Monday, 16 April 2018  |  11:52

Also read Anna Webb's blog from Natural Instinct https://www.naturalinstinct.com/blog/is-your-dog-vaccinated-or-immunised