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A laypersons Guide to Titer Testing & Vaccinations

Updated on June 30, 2014


The most frequent question that people ask when I am at an event is how to properly vaccinate their dog. Things have changed greatly in the last ten years and over vaccination can cause serious issues for your pet. I will try to put things in terms that people can understand. While I am not a Veterinarian I have learned from some great friends who are Vets.

Core and Non-Core Vaccines

According to William "Billy" Griswold, DVM There are two types of vaccinations: core, and non-core. Core vaccines are ones that are recommended for all dogs or cats. Non-core vaccines protect against diseases that are common in pets of a certain life stage or lifestyle, also for pets living in areas where these diseases are common.

Modern vaccines are safe but they are not 100% risk free. Allergic reactions, autoimmune diseases, and other adverse reactions can be caused by vaccines.

This is the URL for the web site for Priority Pet Hospital in Gilbert Arizona where Dr. Griswold practices.

My New Puppy Hazel
My New Puppy Hazel

New Addition to My Pack

This my new mini schnauzer Hazel. I picked her up from the breeder a week ago Sunday. I purchased her from a hobby breeder who is well known to myself and other Twin Cities Miniature Schnauzer Club members. She has fit into my pack very well and has made herself right at home,

What is a Titer?

I found this definition in Equine Disease Quarterly. A titer is defined as the concentration of specific antibodies in the blood that recognize a particular agent. The titer is determined by serially diluting the serum fraction of blood and testing each dilution for the antibody of interest the last dilution of a serum sample that responds in the test determines the titer. The greater the concentration of the specific antibody in the serum sample, the higher the titer. For example, a titer for an influenza hem agglutination inhibition assay of 1:10 would be very low; a titer of 1:320 would be high. A low or undetectable titer indicates very little antibody present in the serum. Here is the URL for this article: Immune System2

Study by Purdue

I found an article in Dr Becker's Bites about pet vaccinations a study published by Purdue in 2005 found correlations between vaccine reactions in dogs and variables such as age, size, and number of vaccines given. The study found:

  • Smaller dogs are more prone to vaccine reactions than larger dogs
  • Risk of reactions increased by 27 percent for each additional vaccine given per office visit in dogs under 22 pounds, and by 12 percent in dogs over 22 pounds
  • Risk increased for dogs up to 2 years old, then declined with age
  • Rick increased for pregnant dogs and dogs in hear
  • More reactions were found in small dogs given Leptospirosis vaccine in humans, if we do not have a healthy diet and natural supplements, we are more prone to ailments and diseases, hence the need for vaccinations and boosters. The same goes for animals. Dogs and cats need vaccine protection of they aren't eating an ideal diet. The better your pet's nutrition is, the healthier his immune system will be, and better able to fend off pathogen attacks.

Study In the United Kingdom

Dr Becker also talked about A study of more than 2,000 cats and dogs in the United Kingdom by Canine Health Concern showed a 1 in 10 risk of adverse reactions from vaccines. This contradicts what the vaccine manufacturers report for rates of adverse reactions, which is “less than 15 adverse reactions in 100,000 animals vaccinated” (0.015 percent). It should be no surprise that adverse reactions of small breeds are 10 times higher than large breeds, suggesting standard vaccine doses are too high for smaller animals.

Titer Testing

Titer tests are used to determine duration of immunity after vaccination with core vaccines. Therefore, when antibody is present there should not be a need to re vaccinate the dog for the specific disease being tested. If antibody titer is absent (irrespective of the serological test used) the dog should be re vaccinated unless there is a medical basis for not so doing.Titer testing used to be expensive as it had to be sent out for analysis.a new easy to use test has been developed called VacciCheck this is an easy to use test that can be done in your vet's office.

This is a diagram for the VacciCheck test that your Vet can do at the clinic.
This is a diagram for the VacciCheck test that your Vet can do at the clinic. | Source


According to Jeffrey Levy DVM PCH you should just vaccinate puppies and only vaccinate adults for rabies every three years. This is the URL for the article:

Some Vets are starting to grasp this concept and use titer tests instead. People just need to be informed about over vaccination and start the conversation with their Vet about this issue.


What are “core” and “non-core” vaccines?
MAY 2, 2012 BY DR. G, Priority Pet Hospital

Dr Jeffery Lynch, Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Considerations for the Titer Testing of Core Canine Vaccines
Dr Ronald D Schulz University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, NMD
Dr.. Becker's Bites
Pet Vaccinations

Dr. David W. Horohov,University of Kentucky,Understanding Antibody Titers
By Equine Disease Quarterly Oct 20, 2009
Topics: Immune System Vaccinations


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    • Judywritesathub profile image

      Judy Robinson 3 years ago

      I am so sorry to hear about your Schnauzer. They are such a great breed. I was just told that they are allergic to the lepto vaccine. I hope your Schnauzer comes home soon and gives you many more years of love. My nine year old has a lot of lumps. One started bleeding last night. We are taking him to the dermatology department at the U of M Small Animal Hospital. Feel free to keep in touch

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      My nine-year-old mini schnauzer is in the hospital recovering from enucleation surgery due to chronic immune-mediated KCS that caused blindness and pain. This is only ONE of the numerous health-related disorders that have caused illness and threatened her life since she was over-vaccinated at age three, had a serious reaction and developed an autoimmune disorder.

      She no longer has ANY vaccinations, only titers. Because of her health, she is even allowed to have titers for rabies (and has retained her immunity for 6 years, as well as immunity to all other diseases for which she initially had vaccinations.) I'm so glad the vet community is finally cooperating with pet parents to stop the needless problems caused by overvaccination. It's too late to 'un-do' the harm caused my dog, but she will never get another vaccination!