To Vaccinate or To Titer? That IS THE Question!!

In the “let’s not take it anymore” philosophy of this site… here are my views on this important issue. For the sake of sustaining and improving your pet’s health I usually recommend giving less vaccines rather than more vaccines over the pet’s life span.

For years veterinarians and the leading vet organizations (AVMA & AAHA) recommended yearly vaccines for all cats and dogs. With a lot of uproar from concerned pet owners like you and many veterinarians, these organizations have re-evaluated their stance. They now recommend/approve core vaccines (distemper/parvo/adenovirus for dogs and panleukopenia for cats) be given every 3 years. HURRAY! They listened finally!!! Many vets now carry core vaccines that are good for 3 years. If your vet does not offer these…you know what to do!!

Change happened because vaccine titers (blood tests that measure the antibody levels in the blood) started to be used in studies to evaluate vaccine efficacy. Studies actually show that for these viral core diseases protection after initial vaccines can last for 4 to 10 years!! Astonishing!!!

So starting at 3 years of age ask your vet to do titers instead of vaccinate. Rabies titers can also started at the expiration of the 3 year Rabies vaccination. If adequate the vet can give you an exemption letter stating that it would be detrimental to your pet’s health to receive the vaccine.

For Rabies vaccines, there are exceptions to my recommendation based on the animal’s life style (indoor/outdoor; roam outside without supervision) and temperament. If they travel by plane domestically/internationally requirements for needed vaccines may require more frequent vaccines be given.

Whether to give any other vaccines is also decided in a discussion with owner.

A special note about cats. If they are outdoor cats they definitely need the Rabies vaccine and a FELV (feline leukemia) vaccine. However if they live indoor all the time, I usually recommend not to re-vaccinate them. Cats are VERY sensitive to vaccines. Some get fibrosarcomas (cancerous tumors) at the vaccine site. These are deadly. Protect your cats. Yes you are going against the law. As a vet I have to recommend the Rabies vaccine for all pets. As an owner you can decline. I will then have you sign in the chart that you declined and take full responsibility for this action.

For more detailed information and to see excellent article by Dr. Susan Yohm, DVM published for Blue Pearl Animal Hospital, go to my website and click on To Vaccinate or Titer on side bar hppt://

Happy Tails to you,
Jill Elliot, DVM

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