Have you ever wondered why people need only one round of core vaccinations as kids but your dog or cat seems to need boosters until the day they depart?
They probably don't and there's a way to prove it.
There's now a relatively inexpensive test being offered by progressive vets that will determine if your pet continues to be protected through previous vaccinations, and – in the case of mature animals – the test will indicate whether they will ever need another shot.
The blood test is called a titre (pronounced tight-er).
They aren't new and have often been given to health care professionals to see if they are protected against such inflictions as hepatitis.
Your vet may not have told you about its use for dogs and cats. Or that the test can now be done in the vet's office at considerable savings.
Some quick background on the core vaccines:
* Dogs are regularly vaccinated against parvovirus, distemper and adenovirus.
* Cats, being more complicated and therefore demanding longer words, are regularly vaccinated for rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.
The shots used to be done annually.
Now, the Canadian Medical Veterinary Association says once every three years is good enough.
If your vet is still insisting on annual vaccinations, ask yourself what that vet's motive might be. And consider that over-vaccinating may be hard on the animal's liver.
In fact, one vet who didn't want to be named, told me the difference between the one and three-year vaccines is only a matter of the label. Inside the vial, it's almost always the same thing.
He also said that if an animal has been regularly vaccinated until mid-age, it probably won't need another shot for the rest of its life, and the titre will indicate that.
(Officially, the CMVA says the titre is valid for three years. Officially).
Dr. Jason Rowan of Pandosy Village Veterinary Hospital in Kelowna, offers the on-the-spot titre test, as opposed to sending it to a lab in Calgary or Vancouver.
“The in-house test is simple and it's cheaper than sending it to a lab,” said Dr. Rowan.
The cost is $75 for a dog, compared with up to $200 for lab testing. It's $92 for a cat but the feline blood still has to be sent out.
Have you ever wondered about all the money you spend on your pet? Of course, you have.
Vaccinations are required at kennels. Ask yours if they will accept titre; most do.
If you take your dog to the U.S. or Mexico this winter, it will need an up-to-date rabies shot, which is good for three years.
That's the only shot required because rabies is, of course, also a human disease.
However, Rowan says that in 16 years of practice, he's never seen a rabid dog and dog groomers who require a rabies certificate are over doing it. Titre can be done for rabies too.
That leaves one more canine vaccine: bortatella, also known as kennel cough. The vaccine is good for 12-16 months and is no more than a drop in pooch’s nose, just one nostril. Kennel cough is no more dangerous than a human cold but it's highly contagious. Not a bad idea if you take your dog to dog parks.
Your vet will likely sell you a prescription over their counter so you can further save and do it yourself.
None of this is to suggest your pet doesn't need regular check-ups.
But it gives you and your credit card some options in deciding what “regular” means.
— You can contact Chuck Poulsen at email@example.com