Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines:
What We Know and Don't Know
Ronald D. Schultz, Professor and Chair
Department of Patho-biological Sciences
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison
It has been common practice since the development of canine vaccines in the late 1950's to administer them annually. The recommendation to vaccinate annually was based on the assumption that immunity would wane in some dogs, thus to ensure immunity in the population, all dogs required revaccination since it was not practical to test each animal for antibody. Little or no research has been done to demonstrate that the practice of annual revaccination has any scientific value in providing greater immunity than would be present if an animal was never revaccinated or was revaccinated at intervals longer than one year.
In 1978 we recommended an ideal vaccination program would be one in which dogs and cats would be revaccinated at one year of age and then every third year thereafter (1). That recommendation was based on a general knowledge of vaccinal immunity, especially the importance of immunologic memory and on duration of protection after natural sub clinical or clinical infections as well as on limited studies we had performed with certain canine and feline vaccines. Since the mid 1970's we have done a variety of studies with various canine vaccines to demonstrate their duration of immunity. From our studies it is apparent, at least to me, that the duration of immunity for the four most important canine vaccines (core vaccines) that the duration of immunity is considerably longer than one year. Furthermore, we have found that annual revaccination, with the vaccines that provide long term immunity, provides no demonstrable benefit and may increase the risk for adverse reactions. We have assessed duration of protective immunity primarily by two procedures; the first is held to be the "gold standard and that is to challenge the vaccinated animal with the virulent organism, the second method is to measure antibody and compare the antibody titer to that which is known to prevent infection (e.g. provide sterile immunity). The studies we report here include challenge studies as well as studies that determine antibody titers. A summary of our results show the following (Table 1).
Table 1: Minimum Duration of Immunity for Canine Vaccines
Table 1: Minimum Duration of Immunity for Canine Vaccines
Vaccine / Minimum Duration of Immunity / Methods Used to Determine Immunity
Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)
Rockborn Strain 7 years/15 years challenge/serology
Onderstepoort Strain 5 years/9 years challenge/serology
Canine Adenovirus-2 (CAV-2) 7 years/9 years challenge-CAV-1/serology
Canine Parvovirus-2 (CPV-2) 7 years challenge/serology
Canine Rabies 3 years/7 years challenge/serology
Canine parainfluenza 3 yrs. serology
Bordetella bronchiseptica 9 months challenge
Leptospira interrogans ser. canicola ?
Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiac ?
Borrelia burgdorfen 1 yr. challenge
Canine Coronavirus Lifetime (whether vaccinated or not vaccinated) Challenge / serology
The minimum duration of immunity data does not imply that all vaccinated dogs will be immune for the period of time listed, nor does it suggest that immunity may not last longer (e.g. the life of the dog). The percentage of vaccinated animals protected from clinical disease after challenge with canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus and canine adenovirus in the present study was greater than 95%.
Although there is much more that we need to know about duration of immunity to canine vaccines the information we have at present provides adequate justification for the vaccination recommendations that I and others have made and continue to make regarding frequency of vaccination (2)
1. Schultz, RD. and F.W. Scott. Canine & Feline Immunization. In: Symposium on Practical Immunology. R.D. Schultz, Ed., Vet Clinics of N. Am., Nov. 1978, W.B. Saunders Co.
2. Schultz, R.D. Current and Future Canine and feline vaccination programs. Vet Med 3: No. 3, 233-254, 1998.
Thanks for posting this info.
I do have a question, last year my then 12 week old puppy had a reaction to the dhpp vaccine, she swelled up all over and was not not herself at all for over a week (she saw a vet within 30 minutes, was given steroids, benadryl and fluids.) I opted to have titers checked at around 18 weeks before getting the 3rd round of dhpp. The results came back that she had immunity and we skipped the vaccine........is it safe to assume she still has immunity? Should I have titers done again?
Jesse and the pugsRudy "Stop These Feet from Dancin NA OAJ"Willy "Bishop's Willy the Kid NA OAJ"Kittie "CH MACH CandyLand's Sugar Babie NAP NJP OAP AJP CGC"Abby "Pennwood's Rising Star AX AXJ NAP NJP CGC"Indy, "Pasun's Trip To The Moon OA NAJ" papillon in training
Thanks!! Will be looking for the answer to Jesse's question..and will follow this thread!
Thanks, I printed the informations so I would have it.
Jesse, if that were Dr. Schultz's pet, he would not revaccinate (see below). If you are unsure, you can have a quickie, inexpensive in-house titer done --
Here's the link for the 15 minute in-house titer tests for distemper and parvo:TiterChek Synbiotics http://www.synbiotics.com/cgi-bin/Products.pl?cgifunction=Search&Product%20Code=96-0460
This link will take you to the following article and quotes: Ask Your Vet for TiterCHECK BY Rhonad L. Rundle, 07/31/02 The Wall Street Journal PAWlicies
"Michael Dutton, a veterinarian and owner of Weare Animal Hospital in Weare, N.H., says the new TiterChek can help him and his clients determine which pets need a booster. ...... Dr. Dutton says he is charging clients $30 for the new in-office TiterChek test. That's less than half his $64 charge for the lab tests, which take 10 days and require mailing specimens overnight in ice packs. "
What Everyone Needs to Know about Canine Vaccines, Dr. Ronald Schultz http://www.puliclub.org/CHF/AKC2007Conf/What%20Everyone%20Needs%20to%20Know%20About%20Cani ne%20Vaccines.htm
"My own dogs, those of my children and grandchildren are vaccinated with MLV CDV, CPV-2, CPI, and CAV-2 vaccines once as puppies after the age of 12 weeks. An antibody titer is performedtwo or more weeks later and if found positive our dogs are never again vaccinated. I have usedthis vaccination program with modifications (CAV-2 replaced CAV-1 vaccines in 1970's and CPV-2 vaccines were first used in 1980) since 1974! I have never had one of our dogs develop CDV,CAV-1 or CPV-2 even though they have had exposure to many dogs, wildlife and to virulent CPV-2 virus. You may say that I have been lucky, but it is not luck that protects my dogs, it is immunologic memory."
||| Synbiotics Corporation ||| They have a few interesting .pdf's on that page to read. Our vet still sends out to the lab and it's expensive.... I'll be asking them to check into this 15-minute test.
Kris, once again, thank you for posting this important information. Now, if we could only each get one Vet a month to wise-up, already.......
Wonka & Nilla,
Thank you for posting the other link.