As our clients know, Dr. Magnusson – author of this post, and owner of this practice – is always learning new and better ways to keep your pets happy and healthy.
Recently, there has been an increase in concern expressed by pet owners about the risk of repeated annual vaccination. The question has still not yet been answered, do vaccines cause disease?
Last week we wrote a post on vaccines that describes the initial puppy and kitten series of vaccines done between the ages of 6 weeks and 16 weeks.
It has been shown that this first puppy series or kitten series of shots provides immunity against contagious disease for one full year. Meaning, one year after the 16 week vaccine visit, all of our clients bring their now 16 month old dogs or cats in for booster shots, setting the permanent date for a yearly “annual exam”.
(eg: If your dog or cat was born February 1st, their final puppy/kitten vaccine will be June 1st, making June 1st their annual exam date forevermore)
What is less clear, is how long that 16-months-old dog’s vaccine lasts. For Distemper and Parvo viruses, at least, we know for sure that the one-year booster lasts at least 3 years, and probably longer.
So let’s talk about “duration of immunity”.
What diseases do we vaccinate against?
Here at Leo’s Pet Care, our patients are at risk for the following diseases:
DOGS: Distemper, Parvovirus, Adenovirus-2, Parainfluenza, Bordetella, Leptospirosis, Rabies.
CATS: Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia, Leukemia, Rabies.
Which of these are viral, and which are bacterial?
DOGS: VIRAL: Distemper, Parvovirus, Adenovirus-2, Parainfluenza, Rabies.
DOGS: BACTERIAL: Bordetella, Leptospirosis.
CATS: VIRAL: Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia, Leukemia, Rabies. (ie: all of them)
How long do bacterial vaccines like Lepto and Bordetella last?
At least one year, per challenge studies performed by the manufacturer. While some lesser vaccines may last only 6 months, our Bordetella and Leptospirosis vaccines have been shown to last a full year.
How long is Rabies vaccine good for in Indiana?
Rabies vaccination is governed by state law. In Indiana:
“All dogs, cats, and ferrets three (3) months of age and older must be vaccinated against rabies. Dogs and cats that are vaccinated with a rabies vaccine whose label recommends a booster one (1) year later and triennially thereafter shall be revaccinated within twelve (12) months of the first vaccination and shall be revaccinated within thirty-six (36) months of each vaccination thereafter.”1
Indiana law does not make an exception for dogs that have titer testing done to prove they are immune to Rabies; rather, Rabies revaccination is required every 3 years whether you like it or not, to protect human health. Therefore, we will not be offering Rabies titer testing at this time.
Titer testing for Distemper and Parvovirus immunity
Getting “titres” of a vaccine means to take a blood sample, and test for the presence or absence of antibodies against whatever disease you’re testing for. For example, if you’re taking Distemper or Parvo titres, you are testing the blood for antibodies against the Distemper virus or the Parvo virus. If you have “enough” Distemper and Parvo antibodies, you may conclude that the patient is immune to Distemper and Parvo at that particular moment in time.
(Titer testing accurately gauges disease resistance in dogs for the Distemper and Parvo viruses only.)
What about parainfluenza?
Parainfluenza virus is included in our intranasal Bordetella / kennel cough vaccine, as well as in the injectable product. We are confident a yearly Bordetella / kennel cough vaccine confers immunity to parainfluenza in our patients, if you elect titer testing rather than Distemper/Parvo/Adeno-2/Parainfluenza boosters every 3 years.
What about adenovirus?
According to Ronald Schultz, DVM, PhD, DACVM, Professor and Chair, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “we don’t need to determine these titers because canine adenovirus-1, the virus that causes infectious canine hepatitis, is an exotic disease and we’re not seeing it in North America. And canine adenovirus-2 is ubiquitous in the environment and doesn’t cause significant clinical disease, though it can contribute to canine respiratory disease complex.”2
1Board of Animal Health, Indiana Rabies Laws and Regulations, Rule 5. Rabies Immunization 345 IAC 1-5-1 Rabies vaccination Authority: IC 15-17-3-21 Affected: IC 15-17-3-13; IC 15-17-6; 345 IAC 1-5-2 Required rabies vaccination of dogs, cats, and ferrets Section 2
2Titer Testing and Vaccination: A New Look at Traditional Practices. A Roundtable Discussion. http://www.synbiotics.com/Products/CompanionAnimals/Canine/TiterCHEK-CDV-CPV-TiterTesting/96-0460-RoundTableDiscussion.pdf
Leo’s Pet Care Annual Vaccine Recommendations
In summary, this is what we now recommend for most dogs:
1. Complete the routine puppy series as outlined in this previous post.
2. One year later, booster Distemper, Parvo, Adenovirus-2, Parainfluenza, Leptospirosis and Bordetella vaccines.
3. Each year thereafter, consider checking Parvovirus and Distemper titers; booster as necessary.
4. OR: Every 3 years, booster the Distemper/Parvo/Adenovirus-2/Parainfluenza vaccine, if you’re not checking titers.
5. Booster Leptospirosis and Bordetella/kennel cough every year no matter what.
6. Booster Rabies at one year and then every 3 years thereafter per Indiana law.
Dr. Magnusson, you didn’t really answer my question. Should I titre test my dog or not?
Parvo and Distemper are devastating diseases, easily preventable with proper vaccination. Research has never shown any harm to any pet receiving 3 year distemper/parvo boosters.
If you would like to pay a yearly blood testing fee for titre testing, and you’re religious about it, you have my blessing. Distemper/Parvo titre testing costs between $85-100/dog/year.
Or, we can just booster the Distemper/Parvo every 3 years for free, under our Vaccines for Life program. Both options are available at our hospital.
If your pet needs vaccines, or you want titre testing done, and you’d like to establish a relationship with a great veterinary clinic, please give us a call at Leo’s Pet Care (317) 721-7387 !