As more and more pet parents are joining the holistic and natural path with their dogs, its important to learn about titer testing. Right now you might be scratching your head thinking, “I have no clue what you are talking about”, that’s okay because two years ago I had no clue either.
What is a Titer Test?
A titer test is a blood test that measures the amount of specific antibodies meant to fight off a disease that is present in the blood. Each antibody matches a specific disease.
What are antibodies?
Antibodies are produced in response to antigens. Antigens are crappy little things that the body doesn’t want. For example, bacteria, viruses, and disease. The body creates specific antibodies for each antigen then those antibodies grab onto those antigens and destroy them. Pretty amazing right!?!
How is the test performed?
Your veterinarian will draw blood (about one mL). The blood is then sent to the lab and diluted multiple times to determine a ratio of blood to antibodies.
How do I interpret the results?
When you get test results back it comes in a ratio. The higher the ratio, the more antibodies are present to fight off a specific antigen. For example 1:1000 is a great ratio. That means that the blood could be diluted 1000 times and still have antibodies present. 1:2 would be very weak, meaning that the level of antibodies is very small.
Why should I titer test?
A titer test can help you and your dog from suffering the way Bolt and I did when he experienced over-vaccinating. It was a very traumatic experience and I thought I was going to lose him forever. You can read more about this heartbreaking experience here. A simple titer test can determine if your dog still carries an immunity to certain diseases. If the test comes back with a ratio that you are comfortable with, then no need to vaccinate your dog again.
How much does a titer test cost?
Titer tests for parvo/distempter tend to be around $100 depending on where you go. My suggestion is to shop around, or go somewhere that you and your dog are comfortable at. Rabies titer tests can be a little more expensive but this is when I weigh out the risk/benefit. I find it incredibly rare that either one of my dogs would ever contract rabies because they are never outside without me, or in a situation that they would be bitten by a rabid animal. Did you know that studies have shown that dogs still carry antibodies against rabies even 7 years after their initial rabies vaccine? Hmm…and some experts still say we should vaccine every year? No thank you! Back to the cost, although the titer test may seem expensive, you also may save on vaccinations each year which can also add up.
What do I do now?
Don’t just take my word for it. I’m not an expert. I’ve had experience with over-vaccinating my dog and I don’t want to see anyone go through what I went through. Do your own research. Find a holistic veterinarian that is willing to help answer your questions. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association has a great link to help you find a holistic vet near you. Also, check out our 4 Resources for Living a More Holistic Life if you just want to learn where to start and where to find some credible resource.