Every 3 years for DHP?
When I was first in practice in the 1990s, we used to vaccinate with DHP and leptospirosis every year. Almost 20 years ago there was a big hoo-hah, led by campaigner Catherine O’Driscoll, which challenged the science behind annual re-vaccination.
After much wrangling with the vaccine companies, it was decided that the vaccine manufacturers would change their recommendations for DHP to vaccinating ‘no more frequently than every three years’.
This is generally interpreted as meaning the DHP vaccines should be given every three years. This is not the WSAVA recommendation!
They recommend, because vaccination for DHP diseases can last up to a lifetime, three years is the most frequent that anybody should be giving the vaccinations. This is different from recommending vaccinations every three years, of course.
Practical DHP Vaccination
At my practice, we offer titre testing universally to all dogs to try to reduce the amount of unnecessary vaccination. Not all practices follow suit, although it’s becoming more accepted. My titre testing recommendations are in line with the wall WSAVA guidelines.
The WSAVA actually state they recommend minimal vaccination. In my practice, this involves titre testing at 15 months and then every 1 to 3 years after that to assess antibody levels. It’s a straightforward system. It’s economic, and it avoids the unnecessary use of potent medicines (vaccines) which can strongly influence the immune system.
Just because vaccines can protect from disease doesn’t mean we should just use them willy-nilly. Vets are trained to only use medicines when needed and when appropriate. I think the routine use of DHP vaccines every three years without titre testing is excessive.
Talk to your vet about titre testing to help with vaccine decisions. They will know about it, and the practice may well offer it as an alternative to vaccinating blind.
If they don’t, it’s easy to Google practices that do offer titre testing. For the sake of the appropriate use of these life-changing medicines, I think titre testing is the way forward when it comes to the vaccine question.
Suppose you have just adopted a dog with an unknown vaccination history. In that case, it’s more appropriate to test for DHP antibodies than it is to simply vaccinate and hope for the best.
Vaccination for leptospirosis is another matter and needs to be discussed with your vet, we explain more below.