Should I vaccinate my pet? Is it safe? How often should I vaccinate? Is there an alternative? These questions and lots of answers are out there swirling around the dog park and the internet. There are lots of opinions, some good information, and some very dangerous information.
There is no doubt that vaccines been essential to curbing the spread of infectious disease. But how often should they be administered? How long does protection last? At Blue Cross Animal Hospital we monitor the recommendations of The American Animal Hospital Association, The World Small Animal Veterinary Association and various university researchers. Over the years their advice has changed as both vaccines and diseases have evolved.
The guidelines seek to provide disease protection for the cat and dog population in general, without over-vaccinating. The time between vaccines has been increasing as vaccines have become more refined. In the past all vaccines were administered annually. Now many have a three year duration.
Even at three years, some owners are questioning that frequency. This is where vaccine titres come in. A titre is a measure of the protective antibodies against a specific disease. If an animal’s antibody titre for Parvovirus is within a required specific range then that animal should be safe from Parvo, and not need a booster vaccine.
At Blue Cross Animal Hospital we can now draw blood from dogs and test their level of protection for Distemper, Parvovirus and Adenovirus ( three of the Core Vaccines). If your dog is protected we don’t need to give the vaccine.
Rabies titres can be checked at a lab in the US, but the law in Ontario requires that you vaccinate all cats and dog no matter their titre.
As always, whether an owner chooses titres or vaccines, the annual visit is essential. At that visit we will determine which vaccines are appropriate and due for your individual dog, and administer either the titre test or vaccinations, do a full physical exam, and review and discuss any health or behaviour issues.
- When your dog comes for their Annual Visit you can choose vaccines or titre testing, for Disptemper, Parvo, and Adenovirus. By law, a rabies vaccine must be given on a three year schedule.
- If you choose to do a titre test, blood will be drawn for testing.
- The veterinarian that examined your dog will contact you with the results within a week.
- If your dogs protection levels are safe we will send out a certificate saying so and no vaccines will be required that year.
- If you do not require the DHPP vaccine, we recommend that you get the intra-nasal Bordatella and Para-influenza protection for Infectious Canine Cough (Kennel Cough).
- If your dog is not protected for one or more of the viruses we will recommend a booster be given and a second titre be taken two weeks later to ensure that your dog is responding to the vaccine. There are cases where animals are incapable of responding to vaccines, so are at risk of disease. If this applies to your dog, we need to know so that you can take extra precautions to protect your pet.