Vaccine Titers in Dogs

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Vaccines are an important part of preventative health care, and determining if the dog’s body is responding to the vaccine is sometimes necessary. A vaccine titer is a blood test that determines the presence of antibodies that develop in response to the vaccine. Since varying amounts of antibodies can be detected in different animals, titers are expressed in terms of ratios.

There are no real contraindications to performing this test. Adequate levels of vaccine titers indicate that the dog does not need a booster vaccination at that time. 

What Does a Vaccine Titer Reveal in Dogs?

A vaccine titer reveals whether or not the dog currently has adequate protection against a disease. Low titers indicate that vaccination will be necessary to provide immune protection.

How Is a Vaccine Titer Done in Dogs?

In order to perform a vaccine titer, your veterinarian must draw a blood sample, which is placed in a special glass tube. The blood sample is allowed to clot, and is then placed in a centrifuge, where it is divided into two parts: serum and a blood clot. The serum is removed and submitted to a laboratory for analysis. The blood clot is discarded. Most often, the blood sample is submitted to an outside laboratory for evaluation. Test results may not be available for up to 3 to 5 days depending on the laboratory.

Is a Vaccine Titer Painful to Dogs?

Any pain involved is associated with the collection of the blood sample, since a needle is used to pierce the skin and enter a blood vessel to draw the sample. As with people, the pain experienced from a needle will vary from individual to individual.

Is Sedation or Anesthesia Needed for a Vaccine Titer?

Neither sedation nor anesthesia is needed in most patients; however, some dogs resent needle sticks and may need tranquilization or ultrashort anesthesia.

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