Over the years, Professor Ronald Schultz has been a pioneer in creating vaccination guidelines for our pets.
So when Professor Schultz comes up with the statement “Be Wise and Immunize, But Immunize Wisely”, what is the take home message?
A Concept Change for Pet Vaccination
The routine administration of vaccines in dogs and cats has been one of the most significant factors in the consistent reduction of serious dog and cat infectious diseases.
Although all veterinarians agree vaccines are necessary, the frequency in which some of them are given, is now debated.
It is known that dogs and cats, after vaccination, often maintain protective antibody to what is called the “core diseases” - Canine Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Distemper and Feline Panleukopenia, Herpes and Calici Virus for three or more years. So, our dilemma is knowing that we may not need to revaccinate our pets for core vaccines, how can we know that the antibody levels of our pets through vaccination are indeed adequate?
Titer Testing to Determine Protection for Our Pets
Antibody or titer testing can be used to show levels of protection after vaccinating our pets with core vaccines.
Therefore, when an antibody is present, there should be no need to revaccinate.
How Often to Titer Test?
Professor Schultz has offered the following advice:
“Neither a titer nor annual vaccination is necessary every year because of the core vaccines’ duration of immunity. However, a blood sample taken yearly from an animal for a titer check is preferential to an unnecessary vaccination as a vaccine may cause harm.”
The Canine and Feline VacciCheck are Core Vaccine Tests
One of the titer tests available and, easily performed by vets, in their clinics, is VacciCheck.
VacciCheck tests for your pet’s antibodies and can determine if a dog or cat needs an additional core vaccine vaccination. This may save the dog or cat unnecessary vaccinations.
VacciCheck also confirms if puppies or kittens have received immunity from vaccination.
Also unique about VacciCheck, results can be received on the same day.
So vets now have a quick and simple test that can be performed in their clinic, at a reasonable cost to the pet owner.
It is no wonder that The World Small Animal Veterinary Association recommends in clinic titer testing, such as VacciCheck.
At the start of my work as a vet, the owner of an elderly female dog, Ginger, with a chronic renal disease, brought her in to receive the annual vaccination [core diseases vaccines, Canine Parvo virus (CPV), Canine distemper virus (CDV) and Canine adeno virus (CAV)].
The first question was “is it really necessary to automatically revaccinate every year for core vaccines, especially in an elderly dog with chronic health problems?”.
Intrigued by the question, I looked for answers.
I have come across a number of studies showing proof that core diseases vaccines may last for several years. The high prevalence of adequate antibody levels in a large population implies that annual revaccinations against CPV, CDV and CAV aren’t necessarily needed.
The scientific arguments in favour of less frequent revaccinations are traditionally based on antibody titers. Protection against most viral diseases is indeed antibody-mediated, and antibodies are easily measured.
Due to these findings the WSAVA (World Small Animal Vaccination Association) Vaccination Guidelines states “The presence of antibody (no matter what the titre) indicates protective immunity and immunological memory is present in that animal. Giving more frequent vaccines to animals in an attempt to increase antibody titre is a pointless exercise. It is impossible to create ‘greater immunity’ by attempting to increase an antibody titre.”
Ensuring Ginger was immunized, I took a blood sample and ran the VacciCheck antibody test for the presence of antibodies against core disease. Results were conclusive - Ginger was immunized with regard to all the three core diseases, and so no need for further vaccination.
*Ginger's titer test results by VacciCheck
Needless to say, Ginger's owner was delighted. I imagine that Ginger was delighted as well…