Pet parents are increasingly concerned with the safety, efficacy, and requirement for regular rabies vaccinations, according to a recently published study in the medical journal Vaccine (August 2023). As many as 53% of pet parents have expressed these concerns, which the study's researchers have termed Canine Vaccine Hesitancy (CVH).
Vaccinations can play an important role in helping your pet's immune system to identify a disease and activate to fight it. However, like all medical treatments, vaccines can also pose risks for your pet. Unfavorable vaccine reactions can include minor symptoms such as rash, swelling, or pain in the area of vaccination to more serious side effects such as seizures, breathing problems, or autoimmune disease. Vaccination also does not mean permanent immunity. Vaccines may create life-long immunity by teaching the body how to resist certain dieases, but they may also only be viable for shorter periods of time. As cited in Dogs Naturally Magazine, "Veterinary immunologist Dr Ronald Schultz realized that when dogs were exposed to viruses naturally, they developed lifetime immunity. So he began testing the core vaccines (distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus and rabies) and found that they all lasted at least 7 years."
Vaccines such as the rabies vaccination have a long history and widespread use - enough data to show that they are safe for most animals. But are we over-vaccinating for rabies? That question and the concern about the potential side effect of recurring rabies vaccines has led many pet owners to consider other options, such as rabies titer testing, as offered here at Longevity Veterinary Center.
A rabies titer test checks the level of antibodies in your pet's blood that are able to neutralize the rabies virus. If the level is adequate, it demonstrates the efficacy and duration of their most recent rabies vaccination. With sufficient antibody levels present, a booster or additional rabies vaccination may not be warranted for your pet. Pet parents who are concerned about the risks of vaccinations for a variety of reasons, from the age of their pet to pre-existing health issues, can elect to check titers instead. Providing these rabies titer test results as proof of immunity are generally sufficient to meet the requirements of most towns and states in place of re-vaccination.
For more information about rabies titer testing, contact us at (973) 606-1101 to learn about your options. If a booster or additional vaccination is warranted, we can also assist in providing the necessary vaccine.