What’ll they think of next? The new reason to bring your pet to the vet annually.

May 2, 2014

Phone conversation with the receptionist at my vet’s office today:

Me: Could you please fax Harper’s vaccination records to this boarding kennel?
Receptionist: Did you know Harper is overdue for her titer?
Me: No, she’s had one in the past couple of years.
Receptionist: Well, she’s supposed to have one every year.
Me: If vaccinations are good for a minimum of three years, why would she need a titer every year?
Receptionist: We need to make sure her titer levels aren’t too low.
Me: [in my head: I’m not even going to argue with you.] Anyway, I need you to fax those.
Receptionist: So you don’t want to do another titer?
Me: Right.

Harper sitting pretty-1Sigh. I thought they were trained at my veterinarian’s clinic not to argue with me about this stuff. Maybe she’s new. It was my understanding that it pops up right by my name–don’t bother arguing with Kim about vaccinations. So I guess they’re going to argue with me about how often titers should be done.

But seriously? It’s not rocket science. If the AVMA and AAHA and all the veterinary schools have data showing that core vaccinations confer immunity for several years, isn’t it obvious that titers would only be done every three years?

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s immunology expert Jean Dodds, DVM, from her blog, in response to a question about a dog’s distemper titer being low:

I suggest titer testing your dog every three years for both distemper and parvovirus. Any measurable titer to a vaccine, including distemper and parvovirus, means that the dog has specific committed immune memory cells to respond and afford protection upon exposure. It really doesn’t matter how high the titer result is as long as it measures something.

I get that vets want to see pets on a regular basis. I think that’s important. I go to my doctor every year for a physical, and veterinarians need to adopt that model as well instead of making up stupid reasons that aren’t scientifically valid. I expect better.

Filed under: pets, connected — Kim Campbell Thornton @ 5:22 pm


  1. SIGH……..Yes, in caps.

    Comment by Liz Palika — May 2, 2014 @ 7:33 pm

  2. My vets office recently updated their computer software. When I asked for an updated “proof of vaccine” for my dog’s last show they discovered that the new software doesn’t have any way to put the titer dates into the vaccine spots. So it was showing him years past due on everything….thankfully they weren’t any more pleased than I was. I hope for their sake they can fix it without having to do a whole new computer software swap! In the mean time I’m using the copy of the titer lab-work as my proof of vaccination…..

    Comment by Ruth — May 3, 2014 @ 5:50 am

  3. I don’t get them at my vet…so never an argument. I get titers for DA2PP done directly by hemopet and it’s cheaper. They refer you to a clinic in Fountain Valley for an inexpensive blood draw. You drive the blood right over to dr. Dodds place and leave it. A couple of days later they give you the results. Last time it was under $100 per dog for both draw and test. Worth the drive if you’re within decent distance

    Comment by Pam — May 3, 2014 @ 9:12 am

  4. I would like to believe the vast majority of DVMs chose their profession for the right reasons. Unfortunately, with so many vets continuing to push yearly vaccination schedules despite the new guidelines (that have been out for a few years now, so actually, not so “new”), it gets harder to keep the faith. Titering is another point of frustration. The animal hospital I take my pets to (AAHA accredited, by the way), charges TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS to titer one dog for parvo and distemper. This TWO HUNDRED DOLLAR fee is surely intended to discourage titering (thereby indirectly promoting vaccination), as there could be no other reason for such an outrageous charge for 2 lousy blood tests. So again … it’s getting more and more difficult to feel when I enter a veterinary practice that my pet’s health is the practice’s number one priority. And while I certainly understand that it costs a great deal to become a DVM and open a veterinary hospital, the industry as a whole needs to develop a better business model — one that doesn’t depend on unnecessary vaccines or outrageous titering charges to make ends meet.

    Comment by JanC — May 10, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

  5. My dog’s distemper/parvo vaccine shows overdue because there is no way to put into the computer that she is “current” via titer. However, between the dated form from the lab showing the titer levels in addition to the titer invoice, there is no question. Just print out the pet’s history as stored on the computer and you should be good to go.

    Comment by Viatecio — May 12, 2014 @ 5:45 am

  6. Dear Ms. Thorton,
    I would agree with your logic assumption that the titers need to be run at three years after the last vaccine was given. Then they do need to be run annually after that. As the data shows, in general (no always), that the Distemper and Parvo immunity will last for a minimum of three years. Once you have checked at three years it doesn’t mean that its good for another 3 years unless you booster them. Your dog’s viral titers could and will drop off at any time after the first three years so it should be checked annually thereafter to keep her safe and portected.

    Comment by R. Brewer, DVM — January 6, 2015 @ 6:44 am

  7. While the core vaccinations against distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus are recommended every 3 years (with much research showing the distemper portion of the three-in-one vaccine lasting for up to 10 years olonger), some countries also vaccinate against non-core diseases such as leptospirosis (a zoonotic bacteria transmitted in the urine or rodents) for which innoculation is required annually. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s consensus is a push towards an annual health check rather than vaccination.

    Pam, I wonder if Hemopet in Fountain Valley are in a position to care for your pet in case of emergency? “Highway vets” such as these often offer simple adjuntive treatments or modalities, but are nowhere to be seen when veterinary care is required (less overheads hence lower prices). If everyone were to do what you do one of two things would happen, 1) prices would go up at your vet’s, 2) your vet would lessen the quality/quantity of their services.

    And finally, I wouldn’t worry too much about the titres, even if you lapse on your vaccines all it takes is maximum 6 weeks before appropriate levels of immunity are reached (unless obvious your animal has a temperature/immunosuppressed etc.)

    Comment by Dr H — February 10, 2015 @ 6:00 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment


Recent Posts

Recent Comments


website design by Black Dog Studios