An antibody titre test is a blood test that determines the concentration (titre) of antibodies in the blood. Antibodies, also called immunoglobulin, are used by the immune system to fight off pathogens such as viruses or bacteria. A high antibody concentration (high antibody titre) indicates either: recent exposure to a pathogen, or immunization is up to date.
Titre testing can be used to customize vaccination schedules to fit the needs of the individual patient. For those concerned about vaccine reactions or overvaccination, titre testing can be used to determine if a patient has immunity to a disease and it revaccination is required.
Most titre tests must be sent out to professional laboratories. However, there is an in-house titre test that can be done for Canine Distemper, Adenovirus (Canine Hepatitis), and Parvovirus. For those interested in decreasing their dog’s risk of adverse vaccine reactions, in-house DAPv titre testing is a more affordable alternative to tests performed at outside labs.
Canine Titre Testing
When to Titre Test
It is recommended that all dogs receive their full set of puppy vaccinations. For the core vaccinations, this means 3 DA2PPv vaccinations (at 6-8 weeks of age, at 10-12 weeks or age, and at 14-16 weeks of age) and one rabies vaccinations. For dogs at risk, non core vaccinations may also be recommended. Puppies at risk will receive 2 leptospirosis vaccinations, and 1-2 bordetella vaccinations, depending on the type of bordetella vaccination used. Once the puppy vaccination series is complete, titre testing can be used to create a personalized vaccination schedule for the patient.
Following the completed puppy vaccination series, some dog owners will choose to continue with vaccination on a regular schedule. Others will prefer to use titre testing to customize their dog’s vaccination schedule to their dog’s individual needs. If antibody titres are high, vaccinations can be given less frequently and veterinarians and dog owners can rest easy with the knowledge that their dogs are still protected against disease. All dogs will benefit from the decreased risk of adverse reactions to vaccination that a customized schedule will provide. Elderly dogs, dogs with a history of vaccine reactions, dogs with chronic disease (such as liver disease), dogs with compromised immune systems, or dogs with other illnesses will also benefit from titre testing. Here are examples of some patients that would benefit from titre testings:
- Example 1: Rex
Rex is a 4 year old healthy adult Border Collie, that goes to doggy day care, agility trials and long walks in the park. He was last vaccinated 3 years ago, and his owner wants to make sure that he is well protected from getting sick since he is in contact with a lot of dogs, especially at the park. His owner also has concerns about overvaccination.
- Example 2: Jewel
Jewel is a 1 year old Bichon Frise, who had a reaction to her last set of puppy vaccines when she was 4 months old. Her face swelled up, and her owner would prefer not to see that again, but also wants to make sure Jewel can go for walks in the park.
Example 3: Jake
Jake is a 7 year old Golden Retriever, who is just entering his senior years. His owner doesn’t want to do anything that might cause him to age quicker or bring on arthritis before Jake is ready to slow down.
Example 4: Blue
Blue is an 8 year old Yorkie with liver disease, who is taking multiple medications, and who is planning to travel with his owner to the United States for the winter. His owner understands about having Blue’s rabies vaccination up to date, but wonders if Blue really needs any other vaccines.
Example 5: Sam
Sam is a 2 year old mixed breed mostly Lab sweetie, only had 1 set of her puppy vaccinations at 8 weeks old, and missed the other 2 sets. Her veterinarian would like to know if she needs to have just one set of vaccinations to bring her immunity up to a protective level, or if she needs a series of 2 sets. Sam’s owner wants to take her to doggy daycare and obedience classes, and does not want her to get sick, either from catching a contagious disease, or from overvaccination.
If you have any additional questions about titre testing, we would be glad to help you find the answers. If you are interested in titre testing for your dog, please let us know so that we may help you keep your fourlegged family healthy, happy and huggable for as long as possible.