Puppy Vaccinations and Titre (Titer) Testing: A Crash Course in Your Puppy’s Immunity

What is Titre Testing?

Titre Testing is a process which can be used, in conjunction with vaccinations, to help avoid preventable diseases in puppies. 

Puppy vaccinations are divisive issue in contemporary puppy healthcare and many puppy owners will have a long list of questions for their vet regarding the procedure.

Should I vaccinate my puppy every year? How early should I vaccinate my puppy? Are vaccinations necessary?

Add titre testing into the list of health procedures available for canines and many puppy owners will find themselves lost in the world of technical lingo when it comes to puppy vaccinations.

This article will act as a generally intro to the topic of titre testing. For information about puppy vaccinations in general, click here. Additionally, click through to our article on Titre Testing vs Puppy Vaccinations for a comparison of the two procedures.

How Does Titre Testing Work?

Your puppy’s immune system relies on antibodies to track down and destroy foreign bodies in the blood stream. Antibodies are developed by the body specifically to fight individual diseases. By learning how a certain disease attacks the body, your puppy’s cells become highly-trained experts at fighting it.

This process is how vaccination works. Your veterinarian exposes the puppy to a very weak or dormant form of a disease so that its immune system can produce tailored antibodies and be prepared to fight it in the future.

Titre testing is a lab based procedure which works by testing the volume of these antibodies against a sample from an unvaccinated puppy. This process is actually employed by the companies that produce puppy vaccinations when testing their products. Only one titre test supplier tests to the standard of these companies. Samples can be shipped to this supplier in the United States, and turnaround is usually 21 days.

What Does Titre Testing Look For?

Puppy immunisations are generally separated into a 3 different vaccines, C3, C5, and C7. The C3 vaccine is the core vaccine that most puppies will receive 6-8 weeks after being born. This vaccine protects your puppy from the Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parvovirus, and Canine Adenovirus. These three viruses are potentially lethal to unvaccinated puppies but can generally be prevented through vaccination.

The most common titre test analyses your puppy’s level of antibodies for Distemper and parvovirus. This testing does not analyse antibody levels for Adenovirus, which causes Canine Infectious Hepatitis, however, immunity levels to the other two viruses may correlate with immunity to Adenovirus.

A Few Caveats:

  • These tests don’t tell you how long the antibodies will last for.
  • Titre testing in Australia only applies to C3 vaccine at the moment.

So, How Useful Is Titre Testing?

If, after reading the above information, you are unsure whether titre testing is a useful tool for fighting disease in your puppy, consider the following information.

Although titre testing serves a useful purpose in assessing a puppy’s level of immunity, regular vaccinations are still the best way to ensure your puppy’s health. Despite this, there are a few situations where it may be best for your puppy to avoid vaccination, when your puppy may benefit from titre testing.

  1. When your puppy is immunocompromised.
  2. To avoid over-vaccinisation.
  3. If your puppy has certain auto-immune or genetic disorders.

In these situations, consult with your veterinarian about whether titre testing may be an appropriate procedure for your puppy. Remember, puppies are individuals and have different needs and medical requirements so it pays to be on the safe side and speak to a professional before acting.

A Word on Over-Vaccination

The idea of over-vaccination is something that has increased in momentum in recent years. Essentially, it’s when you vaccinate a puppy which already has sufficient immunity. The problem is, deciding what level of protection creates ‘sufficient immunity’ is not an easy task.

Some commentators argue that puppy owners should avoid vaccinating puppies which have sufficient immunity because it may cause a reaction. Others suggest that avoiding vaccinations because of potential reactions is silly because we simply don’t know enough about why certain puppies react to vaccinations.

If you’re concerned about over-vaccinating your puppy, bring this issue up with your veterinarian and request a vaccination schedule. The vaccination manufacturers provide a recommendation for each vaccine and following this may avoid vaccinating a puppy with sufficient immunity.

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