You might think you’re helping your pet when you keep giving it vaccinations, but beware: over-vaccination may be dangerous for your four-legged friend.
There are instances when a dog or cat is immune to a specific disease, so giving it vaccine may be counterproductive.
“The more the better” isn’t necessarily the case for vaccines. If you want to be more accurate in providing vaccines to your pet, then a titer test is the way to go.
It might seem like spending cash for yet another test, but doing so will be much more cost-effective than giving potentially pointless shots.
Cost of Titer Test
A titer test is a form of blood test that measures the presence or absence of antibodies in the body. Antibodies serve as the body’s protection and defense from antigens or toxins – so the more antibodies present, the better chances the body has to combat an illness.
However, some argue that it is not a 100% reliable diagnostic tool. Just because your pet shows plenty of antibodies for a particular disease does not automatically mean that it is immune to it.
Think about it this way: if you have a chronic disease, say diabetes, it means your body is producing antibodies round the clock to fight it. In this scenario, you may have a strong titer test rate, but it doesn’t mean you are immune to the disease. It only means you have it.
Make sure to consult with your veterinarian and have an informed decision about having your pet undergo a titer test. The cost of this test varies depending on the disease you’d like to test for. Check out this list for your reference.
Parvovirus, Distemper, and Adenovirus
These are the core vaccines your dog is required to get. Parvovirus is a life-threatening, contagious disease that affects dogs; more specifically, puppies. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration, among others.
Canine Distemper is like the dog version of the flu. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, and fever; and is also contagious.
Adenovirus or dog hepatitis is a viral infection that causes inflammation in the liver. Cure for the disease is almost impossible that’s why vaccination is very important to prevent your dog from contracting it.
Usually, titer testing rates come in packages consisting of parvovirus, distemper, and adenovirus. Protect the Pets in Connecticut offers the package for $45.
Rabies is a serious condition that affects the brain and may be passed from animals to humans. Affected dogs will start experiencing flu-like symptoms which will lead to violent movements, confusion, and eventually, death. It is so serious that all dogs in the USA are mandated to get a rabies vaccine.
While having a strong titer test score is not accepted in the US as sufficient proof of immunization from rabies, it is still recommended to check whether your pet has enough antibodies to fight the dreadful disease. There are two main kinds of titer tests for rabies: Rapid Fluorescent Foci Inhibition Test (RFFIT) and Fluorescent Antibody Virus Neutralization (FAVN).
While both titer tests are capable of identifying rabies antibodies, only the FAVN test is acceptable in rabies-free countries. If you plan to move to one, you will be required to submit your pet’s FAVN test results. FAVN tests cost $120.
Those staying in the US may avail of the RFFIT test for $50 at Protect the Pet and $98 at Hemopet in California.
Also known as feline distemper, panleukopenia is a fatal disease among cats that attacks cells in the bone marrow and intestines. Thrive Wholistic Veterinary Care in Wisconsin offers panleukopenia titer test for $85, while The University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine does for $20.
Procedure and Analysis
To determine the number of antibodies present in the system, the veterinarian would need to draw a few drops of blood (around 1ml) from your pet. The blood is then diluted until such time that no more antibodies are detected in the solution.
The results of the titer test will help you identify whether you still need to give your pet booster shots or if it has already become immune to the disease. A strong titer result would be such that antibodies are still present in the blood despite being diluted plenty of times which could indicate that your pet is immune.
A weak titer result, on the other hand, is one where no antibodies are detected after merely diluting it a few times. In this case, it is advisable to have your pet vaccinated for the disease.
A titer test may once again be taken two weeks after the vaccine to see whether the vaccine is effective or not.
Titer tests should be administered 14 days after a dog goes through its first vaccination to see whether it has worked or not.
The frequency of taking titer tests is highly debated. Some say it has to be done annually, but some argue that it only has to be taken once the effects of the vaccine are up.
For instance, Distemper, Parvovirus, and Hepatitis vaccines last for 2-3 years, so you may choose to have your pet tested again after such period.