What’s A Titer Test?
A titer test is a laboratory blood test that measures the amount of antibodies, which are proteins produced by the immune system as a response to illness, in the bloodstream.
The procedure involves taking a blood sample from a dog and sending it to the laboratory, where the contents are evaluated for the presence of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.
What’s A Titer Test For?
Titer tests are usually done to determine the effectiveness of a vaccine. Since vaccination involves injecting dead or weakened pathogens into the bloodstream of dogs, it prompts the body to produce antibodies and builds up their immunity without causing them to become sick.
The role of titer testing is to determine the levels of antibodies left in the dog’s system after one or more years, allowing veterinarians to decipher whether or not re-vaccination is needed.
However, it’s also useful in the case of unvaccinated dogs, such as those that respond negatively to vaccines. Some dogs experience a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis or develop a sarcoma (a tumor that forms around the injection site) when vaccinated.
For their safety, these dogs are normally advised to forego vaccination and undergo regular titer testing instead. This allows veterinarians to make sure that they continually produce enough antibodies against deadly diseases, like Parvo and Distemper to survive a possible infection.
Which Dog Should Undergo Titer Testing?
Whether or not your dog is vaccinated, taking them to the veterinary clinic for a titer test every year or so will allow you to keep track of their antibody levels and take necessary actions immediately if need be.
For instance, if your dog is vaccinated against Parvo but your veterinarian finds that their antibodies for the viral disease is too low, then they can receive a booster shot right away. Similarly, if your dog is unvaccinated, a titer test enables you to spot periods of vulnerability and take action before an illness has the time to develop.
How Often Should a Titer Test Be Done?
Generally, it’s recommended that vaccinated dogs be brought to the veterinary clinic for titer testing every three years, since most vaccines are formulated to provide protection within a three-year period. However, some veterinarians may also say that doing so every five to seven years is all that’s necessary. Parvo and Distemper vaccines, in particular, are found to provide immunity for up to seven years or in some cases, for life.
For unvaccinated dogs, titer testing usually needs to be done every year since they’re unprotected and at a higher risk for developing diseases and infections. However, there’s also no harm in bringing dogs in for a titer test more than once a year.
What Are the Downsides of Titer Testing?
Titer testing can benefit dog owners of both vaccinated and unvaccinated dogs in many ways. If you’re concerned about your dog’s level of protection against potentially fatal diseases, such as Parvo, you can take them to the vet for a titer test anytime you’d like. However, it has one downside—the cost. A single titer test can run from $40 to $120, depending on which disease it’s for.
To make sure your dog stays protected but only spend money on what’s necessary, ask your veterinarian which specific titer test is required for your dog and how often it needs to be done.
How Does Titer Testing Help Dog Owners Concerned About Parvo?
Whether or not your dog is vaccinated against Parvo, routine titer testing can help you keep them Parvo-free. If their antibodies are too low to provide protection, you can ask your veterinarian for a booster shot, or if your dog is unvaccinated, it can help you decide if vaccination is worth the small risk of a negative reaction.
Bottom line is, knowing that your dog is fully protected from a deadly disease, like Parvo, can give you some peace of mind.
Has your dog ever undergone titer testing?