In lieu of boostering certain vaccinations based on a schedule of known protection, we can also check “titer” levels, to see if a dog or cat is still likely protected against certain diseases from their previous vaccines. For distemper and parvovirus in dogs and herpesvirus, calicivirus, and panleukopenia in cats, these tests can confidently tell us if a patient is still protected or needs his or her vaccine boostered.
Although a rabies vaccine titer test is available for certain situations, it does NOT adequately prove a patient is protected. The purpose of this specific test is simply to prove that a patient has actually been vaccinated before they are imported into an area that has no animals with rabies, like Hawaii.
Here’s what the titer test result from my dog, Stanley, looks like:
The “positive” results for Distemper and Parvovirus Antibody mean he doesn’t need his booster vaccine yet, even though it’s been more than 4 years since he received a vaccine labelled for 3 years of protection. Stanley still received his annual Leptospirosis vaccine boosters to protect him (and my human family) against this infectious disease, Bordetella to prevent “kennel cough,” and he continues receiving rabies vaccinations every 3 years as legally required for his and our protection.
The primary drawback on checking titer level instead of boostering this vaccine is cost. The benefit is continuing to avoid the rare risk of an adverse event in response to a vaccination he doesn’t actually need yet.