The Truth about Titre Tests

I and my holistic vet colleagues in integrative practice have been recommending antibody titre testing for over a decade or more and whilst I am very pleased that more veterinarians are becoming aware of this tool to reduce unnecessary vaccinations it appears that it will be a while yet before the penny drops completely.

In a nutshell, antibody titre testing is a simple and inexpensive blood test that is conducted after vaccination to determine that the vaccine has worked.

If a vaccine has worked then the animal is not going to become more protected by vaccinating more for the same disease. That is how the immune system works. It provides memory and defence against that to which it has already been exposed. In a similar way, a dog that has recovered from a serious disease such as distemper, hepatitis or more likely parvovirus will not require vaccinating for that disease. Not all diseases produce measurable levels of antibody in the blood but a level of immune readiness is nevertheless still present in healthy individuals that have been exposed or vaccinated.

A core vaccine will produce antibodies to the viruses for which it is designed to protect. In this case and in dogs in Australia that is Canine Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus (C3), deemed core diseases as they are most serious.

Kennel Cough is not a core disease, is not fatal and does not have a test available.

The blood test will show that antibodies have been manufactured and these are generally lifelong for these three conditions. Evidence from twenty years testing hundreds of dogs in Australia has demonstrated that duration of immunity is usually lifelong and considered to be such by those of us who have been researching this subject.

It is important to mention here that immunity will only be conferred to dogs through vaccination when they are old enough to produce antibodies without interference from maternal protection. A single C3 vaccination at or after 10-12 weeks of age is generally sufficient in my opinion.

Here are two paragraphs from a recent blog from a veterinary clinic in Melbourne that is trying to provide information to the dog owning public on the one hand but still clearly defensive and a little uninformed on the other.


“Over-vaccination is the idea that too many vaccines can cause illness. The point of titre tests is therefore to be able to see if a dog or cat really needs a vaccine. Some of the time they don’t, but without a test you’re essentially playing Russian Roulette.”


This is still tantamount to scare mongering when the truth is that most of the time they do not need another vaccination rather than the reverse. Over vaccination does cause disease and does lead to health issues in the same way that an excess of anything stressful can throw an animals immune system out of balance. This statement should really be amended to state that the Russian Roulette is more likely being played with the frequent and unnecessary vaccinations rather that not doing titre tests. A dog or cat vaccinated at the correct age for core diseases is highly likely to develop long term immunity based on recent studies.

The other statement that jumps out is an attempt to justify why it has taken veterinarians so long to allow conversation about this practice or to even consider employing titre testing instead of repeated vaccination. This is also largely inaccurate.


“While titre testing has been available for some time, the cost and complexity of performing these tests made it difficult for vets to recommend this option to dog owners. Samples had to be sent to the lab and were shipped out to the USA or UK and took several weeks to get results– until now!”


Titre tests have indeed been available for well over a decade but most vets have been deaf either to the need or to the availability of quality, inexpensive tests available here in Australia both as an inhouse test kit from Biogal and a full laboratory service in Perth. Two or three years ago I  wrote a letter to every single veterinarian in my city, over seventy letters many of them hand delivered. It comprised an invitation to them to be involved in a world first. A project where we, as a veterinary community, could conduct research into this emerging discussion and discover first hand the truth about the necessity or otherwise of repeated vaccination. I received a grand total of zero replies and was bewildered given that it was a unique opportunity to be involved in forming an evidence base that we are so often criticised for not being able to provide. I am still amazed that rather than wanting to know the truth about a procedure that is conducted multiple times a day in every single veterinary clinic they would rather continue the practice with no evidence base whatsoever to determine the necessity.

Whilst I am still bewildered and a little frustrated by veterinarians reluctance to engage on topics like this that are crucial to animal health I am pleased to see information like this being provided to dog owners through clinic newsletters. It would be nice to see a little more accuracy since there is excellent information available through the proper channels with little need to create fear.

It is also pertinent to remind readers that vaccine manufacturers themselves advise that it is contraindicated to vaccinate any animal that is not in good health. As a young veterinarian, my colleagues and I would understand this to mean that if the animal did not have a fever at the time of presentation it was probably safe to vaccinate it but in fact any animal with any other health condition at all cannot be deemed to be truly healthy. Skin allergies, infections, tumours, dental disease, heart or organ conditions, arthritis, would all be reasons to not re-vaccinate an animal. Certainly if there has been any adverse reaction to previous vaccinations I would consider it a serious mistake to repeat the procedure.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association advocates for the vaccination of more animals less often.

It does not get simpler than that.

An unparalleled wisdom.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 39, Agni Press, 2004

For further information see

Vaccination Alternatives

What about Vaccination?

Titre tests for Cats

3 Responses to “The Truth about Titre Tests”

  1. From Canine well-being: vaccinations – The Dependable Companion

    […] about The truth about titer tests from homeopathic vet clinic Paws to […]

  2. From Mia

    Thank you, Dr Pearson, to provide this information. It is reassuring to have your guidance regarding my dogs’ well-being. I am also grateful to be able to refer interested clients of mine to you – I am a dog trainer and passionate about the topic of overvaccination and to have a knowledgeable vet I can point to helps with credibility on that subject.

    I am absolutely flabbergasted that you received zero feedback from your vet colleagues. Yet, let’s be honest … less vaccinations means less income … or so it seems! I find it disheartening that generally speaking, the medical field – whether that’s human or animal medicine – doesn’t produce many doctors dedicated to HEALTH and ongoing studies. Because of that I find it hard to trust the medical profession to really act in my (or my animal’s) best interest. That brings me right back to where I started: so grateful for you!!!

  3. From Judy peel

    What an amazing article dr pearson. ..i can relate to all this ad an owner of red heeler passed @18yrs.And now my beautiful Bluey skye (pictured)is living from chemicals

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