Vaccicheck titer determination blood test dog and cat
Effective protection with VacciCheck
Although it is not new, measuring actual protection against known canine diseases by titering gets VacciCheck increasingly in the spotlight. Is the usual annual vaccination for dogs necessary? Or can an animal already be sufficiently protected and is a vaccination unnecessary? And what about the basic vaccinations for puppies? Are three vaccinations actually required and can you assume that a puppy is protected? The answer is simple. Measuring is knowing. And with VacciCheck that is not too complicated.
What is VacciCheck
VacciCheck is a reliable and easy to perform blood test for dogs and cats. It has a good predictive value with regard to protection against a number of infectious diseases. In dogs, these are contagious hepatitis (CAV), parvovirus (CPV) and distemper’s disease (CDV). VacciCheck measures the antibodies in the blood and this tells you whether the animal is protected or not. Depending on the result, tailor-made vaccinations can be done and unnecessary vaccination can be prevented.
VacciCheck is therefore a means of measuring the quality of the protection. It is a misunderstanding that users of VacciCheck would be against vaccination. The opposite is true. It is about effective vaccination and measuring whether or not a vaccine has worked (immune response). Vaccinating only when necessary prevents unnecessary stress on the animal’s immune system. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Utrecht also recognizes the value of titration as a good addition to vaccination practice.
In practice, it appears that after the measurement, animal owners sometimes assume that the result also says something about the protection of the animal against other infectious diseases against which vaccinations can be carried out. Examples are Weil’s disease (leptospirosis), kennel cough and rabies (rabies). However, VacciCheck says nothing at all about these diseases. It is advisable to follow the vaccination advice of the veterinarian.
Use of VacciCheck in adult dogs
The VacciCheck can be used in adult dogs in the regular vaccination schedule. Instead of vaccinating the 3-yearly cocktail ‘blindly’, the protection status is first determined. The result of the VacciCheck is indicated with S-values. S0 and S1 are negative, S2 is slightly positive and S3 to S6 are positive. In the case of positive, however, it does not apply ‘the higher the better’. Protected is protected regardless of the height of the titer.
The WSAVA is the global umbrella organization of companion veterinarians with more than 200,000 veterinarians and scientists affiliated. They have drawn up guidelines for vaccination schedules and included titration. They agree that a dog is well protected with a positive value and can be signed off for a period of 3 years. A vaccination with such a dog will not add anything, the protection is already good and will not get any better. With a weak positive value (S2), depending on the vaccination and titre history of the dog, the registration will usually be for a year. The dog is protected and a vaccination will not add anything, but it is then good to monitor whether the value continues to decline after that year. If the value remains stable, it is possible to sign off for 3 years. After 3 years, a new titer determination is always necessary.
The value of VacciCheck in breeding bitches
If you want to breed a dog, it is wise to measure well before mating what the protection status of the animal is against the serious infectious diseases that VacciCheck measures.
The bitch will provide protection through the colostrum (the first milk that the mother gives to the puppies) in the first vulnerable period in the puppies’ life. The colostrum contains a high concentration of antibodies. A puppy’s intestinal wall is permeable to these antibodies for the first 24 hours of life. Because a puppy cannot produce antibodies on its own, it is completely dependent on the antibodies it receives from its mother for protection in the first period of its life. We call this maternal protection.
The quality of the colostrum differs per bitch and cannot be fully predicted. However, it is highly advisable to measure the antibody concentration in the blood of the bitch. If the antibodies are too low, they will not be passed on sufficiently to the puppies. Therefore, have a bitch titrated well before mating and vaccinated if necessary.
Effective vaccination of puppies using VacciCheck
As explained, a puppy receives its antibodies through the first mother’s milk. These antibodies are also called maternal antibodies and protect the puppy during the first period. The length of this period can vary greatly per puppy. Sometimes the antibodies have disappeared by as little as six weeks. In most puppies they are present for about 6 to 12 weeks. But in about 12% of the puppies even longer, with peaks up to about 20 weeks.
It is good to know that as long as the maternal antibodies are present, a puppy vaccination will not work. The maternal antibodies, as it were, scavenge the vaccination from the blood before the puppy’s immune system can respond to it. Titration in the puppy is based on this principle: measuring the height of the antibodies to determine the right time for vaccination.
In the regular vaccination schedule, vaccinations are usually made at 6, 9 and 12 weeks. In this way, it is hoped that at some point the concentration of maternal antibodies will be low enough for the vaccination to work. So it is a matter of gambling. In principle, boosting is not necessary: a single vaccination with a good immune response provides just as good protection as three vaccinations, one of which is successful. VacciCheck helps to determine the right time. And after vaccination, a control titer can be performed so that you know whether a vaccination has actually been successful.
Sometimes it is a bit of a puzzle: if, for example, the parvotiter is already low but the hepatitis and distemper titers are still high, a separate parvovaccine is given. At the next consultation, the titers will be repeated, which shows whether the parvov vaccination has been successful and whether the other titres are now low enough to vaccinate. Measuring = knowing! This way, vaccinations are done at the right time and the puppy’s immune system is not burdened with unnecessary vaccinations.
When all vaccinations are successful, the puppy will come back for a titer determination at the age of 1 year. Then his immune system is fully mature. If the titres are still present, the animal will be protected for at least the next 3 years.
Examples from practice
Titration in puppies can be a short and simple process, but this is not always the case. Suppose you have a litter of puppies that are first titrated at six weeks. It turns out that all values are already at 0: you can vaccinate against all three diseases. After 3 weeks, the new owner will perform a control titer at the vet, and the result is good, the vaccinations have started, and the puppy does not have to come back for another year!
But it can also be done differently: in a puppy where the antibodies persist for a long time, repeated measurements are sometimes necessary. This requires a motivated owner.
The interpretation of VacciCheck is also somewhat more difficult if vaccination has already started. Then you are sometimes not sure whether a titre is still maternal, or whether the vaccination has already started. In that case, a further titer determination is necessary to make this distinction. A maternal titre will drop further, a response to the vaccination will not.
Since the introduction of titering, knowledge about vaccinations and protection has increased significantly. For example, it turns out that a single puppy vaccination at the right time can sometimes provide lifelong protection! And that if the regular vaccination schedule of 6-9-12 weeks is maintained without a control titer, about 12% of the puppies will walk around unprotected until the first year!
More and more veterinarians are therefore titering with the VacciCheck before vaccinating. A joyful development for the health of the animals. Protected animals without unnecessary vaccinations.
Biogal and NML health
The cradle of VacciCheck is in Israel. In a laboratory in Kibbutz Ga’led, 75 kilometers north of Tel Aviv, producer Biogal is continuously developing and producing veterinary diagnostic tests and equipment for infectious diseases in large and small pets.
NML health, developer and distributor of natural health products for horses, dogs and cats, has been the exclusive supplier of VacciCheck for the Benelux since 2004. Paulien Visser, veterinarian and associated with NML health: “We want to make an active contribution to protecting pets as well as possible. The purpose of vaccination is immunization. Without checking whether the animal has actually reacted to the vaccine, you know nothing about the quality of the protection. Determining the degree of protection by measuring antibodies is an important development for the health and welfare of dogs and cats. ”
Measuring is knowing
Not only can the Vaccicheck determine whether a vaccination is really necessary at that moment, but it can also check whether a vaccination has actually started.
And how incredibly important that is, handsome Lewis recently proved.
At the age of 3 months, Lewis was given a titer test in which the result indicated that several antibodies were insufficiently present.
Lewis was therefore vaccinated with the so-called DHP vaccination. DHP stands for Distemper (also called distemper), Hepatitis (infectious liver inflammation) and Parvo.
After 4 weeks, Lewis came back for another titer to check if the vaccination had worked properly.
Unfortunately, no antibodies were found for Parvo, the titre score was even 0.