35290918Vaccinations & Titre Testing

Vaccination has revolutionised control of infectious disease in our dogs. It is essential that all dogs are adequately vaccinated to help protect them and the dog population as a whole.

Puppy Vaccination

Puppies are ‘temporarily’ protected against many diseases by antibodies received through their mother’s milk. These maternal antibodies decline over the first few months of their lives, however until they drop sufficiently they can also neutralise vaccines. This creates a ‘window’ of time during which they are potentially susceptible to disease. This is why a series of vaccinations is necessary in a puppy to minimise that window. We also recommend minimising exposure to unknown dogs and potential sources of infection up until the second vaccination at (10-12 weeks) has taken effect. 

Puppies are given an initial course of vaccinations, generally between 6 – 16 weeks of age, but this cannot protect them for the rest of their lives. Adult dogs require periodic booster vaccination to maintain immunity against disease.

Adult Dog Vaccination

The immunity from puppy vaccination weakens over time and your dog can again become susceptible to disease. Annual health checks and booster vaccinations, as required, will provide the best protection for the life of your dog. Please see below for more information on TITRE TESTING for adult dogs.

After Vaccination Care

Following vaccination your dog may be ‘off-colour’ for a day or two, or have some slight swelling or tenderness at the injection site. Normal access to food and water and a comfortable area to rest are usually all that is required for a quick recovery. However, if the response seems more severe, you should contact us for advice.

Contact us to discuss a suitable vaccination regime for your dog.

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What is Vaccine Titre Testing?

An antibody titre test is a laboratory test measuring the existence and level of antibodies to disease in a dog’s bloodstream. Antibodies are produced when an antigen (like a virus or bacteria) provokes a response from the dogs immune system. This response can come from natural exposure or from a vaccination. A Titre test is able to be performed on adult dogs, after they have had their full course of puppy vaccinations. We take a small blood sample during the annual health check consult to facilitate the test.

What is the benefit to titre testing vs. vaccine ‘boosters’?

There is always some potential for an adverse effect to an agent given systemically, but the benefit of vaccination (potentially lifesaving) far outweighs that risk. If the vaccination is not totally necessary every time, then it is worth considering not taking the risk, however small, of any adverse effect.

Why the change?

Research is demonstrating that the protective effects of vaccines can last longer in some dogs than the intervals that we are administering them at, whether that be yearly or 3 yearly.

At The Dog Clinic we are now able to offer the option to have your dogs’ antibody levels tested as a potential alternative to vaccinating every time your dog is ‘due’ for a booster. If your dogs’ antibody levels remain high enough to protect against disease, then we can skip the C3 vaccination for that year. Currently antibody titre testing is only available for Parvovirus and Distemper virus (C3) and Hepatitis. Canine Cough (kennel cough/KC) and Leptospirosis vaccination boosters should be continued annually, as immunity created by the Canine Cough vaccine unfortunately does not last as long as other vaccines.

How often do we test?

We recommend yearly testing, to be confident that your dogs’ immunity continues to be protective.

What about going into Kennels?

If we do not need to vaccinate for the C3 , we will give you a certificate that states that your dog has been tested and has sufficient immunity to go into kennels.

What does it mean if my dogs’ antibody levels are low?

In this case we would vaccinate as per usual. It does not necessarily mean that your dog is vulnerable to disease, as there are different forms of immunity and we can currently only test the antibody form. Dogs with low antibody levels can still be protected against disease by cell mediated immunity, but given we cannot test for this, we need to err on the side of caution and still vaccinate to provide the best level of care for your dog.


Canine Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is a disease that affects dogs of all ages but is most serious in young pups and older dogs. The virus attacks the intestines causing bloodstained diarrhoea, uncontrollable vomiting and severe abdominal pain. Dogs often die from severe dehydration despite intensive veterinary care.

It is not necessary to have direct contact with other dogs for the disease to be spread. The virus is so persistent that the infected dog’s environment needs to be cleaned with a potent disinfectant to prevent spread to other dogs. Outbreaks occur regularly throughout Australia, especially in summer.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that can affect dogs of any age with young puppies being at highest risk.

Symptoms vary but can include fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and depression. Muscle tremors, fits and paralysis usually occur later in the disease. Treatment is usually ineffective and the recovery rate very low. Dogs that do recover may have permanent brain damage.

Canine Hepatitis

Canine hepatitis is a viral disease which, like distemper is extremely contagious and often fatal. Dogs of any age can become infected, however severe cases are rare in dogs over two years of age.

Symptoms include high fever, depression, and loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and acute abdominal pain. In severe cases death can occur within 24 to 36 hours. Dogs that recover may develop long term liver and kidney problems and can act as carriers spreading the disease to other dogs for many months.

Canine Cough

Canine cough is a condition produced by several highly infectious diseases, which can be easily spread wherever dogs congregate, such as parks, shows, obedience schools and boarding kennels. Among the infectious agents associated with canine cough is the bacterium known as Bordetella bronchiseptica and the canine viruses parainfluenza, adenovirus type 2 and distemper.

Affected dogs have a dry hacking cough which can persist for several weeks. It is distressing for pet dogs and their owners. It is a major problem for working and sporting dogs. Pneumonia can sometimes occur in older patients or those who are immuno-compromised. 

Canine Coronavirus

Canine coronavirus is another contagious virus and causes depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea especially in young dogs. Diarrhoea may last for several days in some cases. Although most dogs will recover with treatment, coronavirus has the potential to be fatal, especially if other infectious agents such as parvovirus are present.

This is not currently known to be transmissible to humans. 

Canine Leptospirosis

Canine leptospirosis is a serious disease risk in some areas and can cause high death rates. It is spread by the urine of rats and is usually transmitted to dogs by contaminated food and water, or by rat bites.

There’s an increased risk where high rat populations exist. Incidence can also increase after long periods of wet weather, when rat populations are forced to move or concentrate. Leptospirosis is an animal disease that can be passed to humans who may then suffer a persisting “flu like” illness.

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