Are we over vaccinating our pets?

dog about to be vaccinated

Traditional vaccination protocols have stated that we must vaccinate our pets every year. This is to maintain their immunity to the deadly diseases that can kill our family pets. This advice has been followed religiously by the veterinary industry, until recently. Questions have emerged as to whether continuous vaccination is the best course to follow.

It is now thought that over vaccinating our pets may provoke serious adverse reactions. These reactions include immune mediated haemolytic anaemia, tumours, allergic reactions and arthritis. So how often should we vaccinate our pets?

At Bentons Road Vet Clinic we have designed our vaccination protocols in accordance with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA). The WSAVA recommend titer testing prior to vaccination. Titer testing can help to reduce the occurrence of over vaccination of our pets.

So What is Titre Testing and What Does It Involve?

Titre testing involves performing a blood test to see if a dog currently has circulating antibodies. The antibodies tested for are against the three core vaccination diseases (parvovirus, hepatitis and distemper). If a dog does have current antibodies, it does not need revaccination. Revaccination should occur when the test indicates that the dog is no longer protected. In an ideal world, titre testing should be performed at the annual health check each year. Thankfully titer testing is also now available for cats .  Bentons Road Vet Clinic performs both of these test in the clinic.

What does Bentons Road Veterinary Clinic recommend?

Puppy and kitten vaccinations
Puppies and kittens should receive a course of vaccinations at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. We now know that many cats and dogs that receive the 12 week vaccination will not need the booster at 16 weeks of age. However there is a small proportion of pets who will not respond to the vaccine. This is usually because their mother’s antibodies are still circulating in their system. This prevents the vaccine from working. Unfortunately we do not know which pets fall into this small group. So we recommend that all puppies and kittens receive a booster at 16 weeks of age. Titer testing puppies at 4 months of age will test which pups need the last booster and which do not.

Adult dog vaccinations
Adult dogs should not receive vaccinations against the core diseases (parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis) any more than every 3 years. Many dogs, after being fully vaccinated as pups, will not need this three yearly vaccination. Without titre testing to check for antibodies, we are not sure which dogs need the vaccine and which do not. Because of this, most vets commonly recommend a three yearly core vaccination program against Parvovirus, Distemper and Hepatitis. At Bentons Road Vet Clinic, we can now perform a titer test to see which dogs need revaccination and which do not.

Kennel cough
Kennel cough is known as a non-core vaccination.  This disease syndrome is caused by both viral and bacterial infections. In residential areas, high risk areas for kennel cough include dog parks and gardens.  Dog obedience schools, boarding kennels and the local streets are also potential areas of risk.  To try and reduce the frequency and severity of kennel cough, annual vaccinations are required.

What Can We Provide?

Bentons Road Veterinary Clinic offers antibody titer testing for the core vaccination diseases. We will provide a signed vaccination card or certificate stating that the dog currently has protective levels of antibodies. It is the owner’s responsibility to check with any boarding kennels that they will accept this certificate. Also boarding kennels always require the annual kennel cough vaccination.  Bentons Road Vet Clinic has a list of local kennels that do accept the titre testing certificate.

So if your pets are due their vaccinations, give us a call or book an appointment with Dr Kelly. We can talk to you about what we can do to help.

If you want more information about Titer Testing, follow the link below:

Bentons Road Vet combining Natural Health & Modern Medicine