I firmly believe that along with ensuring they do not become obese and brushing their teeth, vaccinating your dog is one of the best things you can do for them to ensure long term health.
The conditions we vaccinate against are highly infectious, often fatal, and easily prevented with vaccinations which are safe and effective.
The companies that make the vaccines are always working on proving a long duration of immunity, and this has seen most protocols stretch from an annual revaccination of all components, to three yearly boosters of some parts.
A consensus statement was released some time ago by a panel of experts, taking all the evidence into account for vaccination duration. With this in mind, now that there is validated in-house titre testing available, I have produced a protocol for owners who wish to vaccinate to need.
It must be stated that I strongly advise that all dogs are vaccinated for Leptospirosis with either Lepto 2 or 4 vaccines. This is a potentially zoonotic disease (passes to humans) and is not always easy to treat in dogs, as it is not always diagnosed before it has damaged the kidneys, liver, brain etc. I have not seen significant evidence of vaccination reactions to this or any other vaccine. It is very difficult to ensure a dog is at no risk of contracting this condition and so it is our job to try and prevent what we can. Currently the immunity cannot be proven beyond a year, and the consensus statement advises annual vaccination in countries where Lepto is a core vaccine, such as the UK.
That aside, it is clear that some animals retain antibodies to the viral diseases we vaccinate against for quite some time beyond the three years in the vaccine data sheets. It is not possible for us to carry monovalent vaccines, so when the immunity wanes to one of Distemper, Hepatitis or Parvoirus we will boost all three. The notes below only relate to DHP vaccination, not Lepto.
Regarding the DHP components, the consensus statement reads 'The recommendation of the VGG is for initial core vaccination at 6–8 weeks of age, then every 2–4 weeks until 16 weeks of age or older'
This should be followed up with a booster given at between 6 and 12 months of age. They then advise there is no need for further vaccination for these three diseases for 3 years.
If a titre test is undertaken after their primary course at around 20 weeks, and is positive, the guidelines advise that the puppy should not require further vaccination for three years. This test is recommended to be sure they have responded adequately, as some puppies will not have developed sufficient antibody from the primary course. If they are negative they should be revaccinated and re tested 4 weeks later.
It is also possible to use titre testing to assess the need for vaccination in rescue dogs or those with an unknown history, to guide the best approach for each dog. Temperament issues may however make vaccinating a kinder option for the very scared dogs we sometimes see.
At the three year point, it is possible to check the antibody status of the individual, and assess the need for revaccination. If the animal has antibodies, an annual titre retest is advised and revaccination is only carried out when antibodies are not detected.
Protocol (for DHP only, lepto advice above)
Puppy course: as above ideally, prefer to finish 12-16 weeks of age, but some will still finish at 10 weeks (This is now not thought to be in the dog's best interest in terms of maternal antibody)
Titre test: 4 weeks after last primary puppy vacc, around 20 weeks. If positive, no need to retest or revaccinate for 3 years.
OR: first booster - 6-12 months of age. No need to revaccinate or test for 3 years.
Age 3.5-4: revaccinate, no need to retest or revaccinate for 3 years.
OR: Titre test:
If negative, revaccinate, then should be fine for 3 years. consider checking after 4 weeks to be sure of antibody production if not had a test before.
If positive: retest in a year and follow same protocol.
Pricing is on main page, and 'annual titre test' includes health check and lepto booster.