Individualised Vaccination Schedules
Here at The Natural Vets we tailor vaccination schedules based on your pet’s needs and health status, and offer titre testing to check their level of protection.

It has been shown by scientific studies that adult dogs properly vaccinated with most Distemper/Parvovirus/Infectious Hepatitis (C3) vaccines likely have immunity to these diseases for seven years or longer, possibly for their lifetime, in the absence of any repeat vaccination.  This means that once pups have received their initial immunisation course and first adult booster for the core vaccines (Distemper, Parvovirus and Infectious Heptatitis), and have mounted an effective immune response, they will not need vaccine ‘boosters’ any more frequently than three-yearly, or possibly ever again.  This is in line with worldwide guidelines:

“Dogs that have responded to vaccination with MLV (modified live virus) core vaccines maintain a solid immunity for many years in the absence of any repeat vaccination. Following the 12 month booster, subsequent revaccinations are given at intervals of 3 years or longer, unless special conditions apply.”

What’s more, it is known that vaccine ‘boosters’ in an adequately protected animal do not actually boost their immune status further, but can over-stimulate the immune system and increase the likelihood of side effects.

Studies done with recommended feline vaccines (Feline Panleukopaenia Virus, Calicivirus and Herpes Virus Type I, known as F3 vaccines), have shown a minimum duration of immunity for feline core vaccines (Panleucopaenia, Calicivirus and Herpesvirus) of greater than three years.

What does this mean for your pet?
When determining an appropriate vaccination schedule for our patients, we assess their current health status, lifestyle, vaccine needs and the risks vs the benefits of each vaccination.  Our customised vaccination schedules ensure your pet is protected against any life-threatening diseases they are likely to come into contact with, but reduces the likelihood of vaccine reactions and side effects seen with excessive vaccinations.

Certain vaccinations administered at appropriate intervals are necessary to ensure the health and safety of your pet.  Vaccinations prime the immune system to recognise the disease and react quickly should the body come into contact with it. Because the immune system is primed, immunity is stimulated much more rapidly when a vaccinated animal comes into contact with that disease, and the body is able to mount a rapid defence. Thus if a dog comes into contact with parvovirus and has been vaccinated appropriately (and responded to the vaccine), he/she will immediately mount an immune response which should prevent infection.  Parvovirus is the one remaining life-threatening disease frequently seen in dogs in Australia, and feline viral respiratory diseases are still very common.

The Option to Titre Test
A titre test is a blood test that can be used to assess an animal’s immune response to previous vaccines. For dogs we are able to run titre tests for Distemper virus and Parvovirus, and for Infectious Hepatitis if there is a need to do so.  For cats, there are titre tests available for the three core diseases they are vaccinated for.

We suggest titre testing your puppy or kittten two-four weeks after their final vaccination booster to ensure they have fully responded to their vaccines, and then in place of vaccination for adult animals. This allows us to determine whether your pet has responded appropriately to a previous vaccine, what their current level of protection is, and whether they are likely to require a booster vaccine in the future.  Any measurable titre means that the animal has committed immune memory cells that can respond to a disease challenge, and may not require future vaccinations.  Most pets will then go onto a titre testing schedule where we assess continuing levels of titre every few years as an assurance that the animal continues to remain protected.

Titre testing is more expensive than simply administering a vaccine when you look at the cost of the test compared to the cost of a vaccine, however when you add up the cost of annual vaccine boosters over the course of your pet’s life (and all the veterinary visits you are likely to need to pay for associated with chronic vaccination damage), titre testing becomes a more economical option, and is certainly much safer for your pet.  We charge $178 for a titre test that checks Distemper and Parvovirus antibody titres in dogs, or $198 for Panleukopaenia and both Cat Flu viruses in cats.  If you are a member of a kennel club they may require that your dog is also tested for Canine Adenovirus.  This requires a sample be sent overseas and so increases the cost of the test.

The Importance of Routine Veterinary Visits
Routine Wellness examinations are an essential component of proactive pet health care.  Vaccination booster appointments should not be relied upon as the only reason to return to your Vet regularly, and regular comprehensive nose-to-tail examinations are the best way to detect any changes in your pet’s health.  Many owners are surprised by the rapid appearance of disease symptoms in their pet, when the reality is that many diseases show subtle changes long beforehand, which can often be picked up in routine wellness exams.  If we make changes to your pet’s lifestyle when these subtle changes arise, it is likely that we can prevent major illness from ever developing.  For young healthy animals, annual visits may be enough, but for older animals wellness examinations may be needed 3-4 times a year.

Book in for a Wellness Consultation at The Natural Vets soon, which includes a comprehensive health check and discussion of diet and lifestyle needs.  We will set your pet on their Path to Wellness so they can enjoy a lifetime of health and adventure!