While today’s cat and dog vaccines are extremely safe, there’s a growing concern about ovarvaccination and potential problems this may be causing in our pets. The majority of core vaccinesfor cats and dogs in the U.S. are approves for every three years. While the vaccines may work for longer than three years in many individuals, this is the minimum amount of time they’ve been shown to be effective. It’s basically a safety net to make sure all pets are protected, regardles of their individual immune responses.
So, how would we know if your dog has an immune repsonse to distemper that lasts five years instead of three? It is possible to test the level of antibiodies in the bloodstream of some of these diseases. Of course, this is not a perfect system and circulating antibodies do not necessarily mean there is an adequate immune response (esentially, there are just too many “moving parts” for this to be a direct relationship).
However, testing these antibody levels can give us enough information that many veterinarians are comefortable foregoing some annual vaccinations. The specific tests are called antibody titers-the blood is diluted, or “titrated,” and then tested at each dilution level until it tests negative for antibodies. Positive tests at a high level of dilution (a high titer) indicate a higher level of antibodies in the blood.
While many pet parents (and veterinarians!) are comfortable receiving core vaccines at regular intervals, antibody titers offer a possible alternative. As with many areas of veterinary medicine, interpretation of vaccine titers is a contentious issue-discuss it with your veterinarian to see wether they feel it might be a viable option for you and your pets.
Fetch 2011 no.2 issue 9