Looking at titres in dogs

sample of blood test tubes on white.

Testing titres for a particular infectious agent measures the presence and level of antibodies in a dog’s blood. These antibodies reflect the combination of any natural exposure and vaccination, and were created when the dog’s immune system responded to the antigens introduced into his body.

The presence of a measurable serum antibody titre indicates the presence of “immune memory”, and signifies protection from disease. Titres do not distinguish between immunity generated by vaccination and/or by exposure to the disease, although the magnitude of immunity produced just by vaccination is usually lower. When an adequate immune memory has already been established, there is little reason to introduce unnecessary antigen, adjuvant and preservatives by administering booster vaccines. If titre levels are adequate, your dog has protection against future exposure to the infectious agent, and revaccination is not needed.

By measuring titres every three years, or more often if desired, you can determine whether
your dog’s circulating immune response has fallen below levels of adequate “immune memory”. In that event, an appropriate vaccine booster can be administered.

Note: Rabies titres can be administered but you are still required to vaccinate according to the law in your area. These tires are useful, however, if your dog has experienced a reaction to the vaccine or has a serious debilitating disease and your area allows you to receive a medical certificate from your veterinarian exempting your dog from further examination.

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Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM, received her veterinary degree in 1964 from the Ontario Veterinary College. In 1986, she moved to southern California to establish Hemopet, the first non-profit national blood bank program for animals. Dr. Dodds has been a member of many national and international committees on hematology, animal models of human disease, veterinary medicine and laboratory animal research. She received the Holistic Veterinarian of the Year Award from the AHVMA in 1984.