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This is a discussion on Titers? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Should i get titers on my horse or just immunize
  • What are titters in horses

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    09-15-2008, 11:42 AM

Does anyone do Titers on their horses to see what vaccine's they really do need?

I do this with my dogs and haven't needed to vaccinate them for anything for years, except Rabies and only do that vaccine because it's the law.

Over vaccinating in dogs have caused so many problems, I would hate to do that to my horses! But I do want to be sure they are protected for any diseases that horses get.

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    09-15-2008, 05:14 PM
Unfortunately, we don't know what titer level indicates a good response to vaccine or confers immunity in horses. There is currently no evidence that over-vaccinating in horses with any vaccine other than the Strangles vaccine causes health problems, so vaccinating as per your vet's/the AAEP's vaccination recommendations should be continued.

With dogs, the majority of the diseases we vaccinate against are more likely to occur in young dogs or don't carry a high mortality rate AND we have the studies to show that the vaccines are effective for longer than 1 year, thus the new recommendations to vaccinate less frequently in both dogs. We just don't have that situation with horses---EEE, Tetanus, WNV all are serious/deadly and can affect horses of any age. The other vaccines like Strangles, Influenza, EHV, PHF, etc are all given based upon the risk of the individual. Horse's vaccines schedules are already decided on an individual basis rather than just givin all horses all the vaccines yearly.
    09-16-2008, 09:13 AM

"Unfortunately, we don't know what titer level indicates a good response to vaccine or confers immunity in horses."

Why? How would we know if the vaccines actually work?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for vaccinating. Just not blindly! I just want to be sure what actually works and what problems vaccines cause in horses. It has been proven that the Rabies vaccine is affective for dogs for 7 years or more. I've been doing titers on a few of my dogs and haven't had to give them any vaccines (except Rabies by law) for over 8 years! And that is only after 1 puppy vaccine.

Are there no studies being done in horses?

I've seen so many bad reactions in dogs and cats from certain vaccines, especially the Rabies vaccine. It's why in the dog show world that breeders are going to doing titers. So we don't over do vaccinating and put our dogs at an even higher risk. Etc...

I tell ya, I flipped out when I learned that vaccines have Arsenic and other heavy poisons in them!

You mentioned about the Strangles vaccine giving problems with horses. I'll look that up so I don't have to keep picking your brain on this one! :)

Thanks for your input, I am very new to horse ownership so just trying to be sure I do everything right by them! Give them the right vaccines at the right times and de wormings to keep them as healthy as possible. I don't want to under or overdo anything that would put their health at risk.
    09-16-2008, 10:42 AM
Vaccines are tested to see if they work via actually giving them to horses and then exposing them to the disease causing organism...not through taking titers.

As for all the "bad reactions" to vaccines in small animals, yes they do occur but after working in small animal medicine for 10 years I can count the number of times I saw them on 1 hand---and I worked at a very large practice on the outskirts of Dallas. But we do have lots more studies that occur on dogs and cat because there are more small animal owners who provide more extensive medical care for their dogs and cat so there is more money in it for the research companies to actually do more studies. It's also more cost-effective to manage a large number of small animals than large animals---just having the room for them. We are years ahead on small animal medicine compared to equine medicine in many areas just because of feasability.

We are also vaccinating against different types of diseases in horses than in dogs and are dealing with a different species which means that their responses to diseases and vaccines aren't the same. Tetanus for example---in humans we get vaccinated every 10 years, but in horses yearly vaccination is recommended because they are more susceptible than humans are, they tend to get lots of nicks and cuts (including insect bites) which can serve as a route of infection and because they shed the bacteria that causes tetanus in their feces which means that they live in a constantly contaminated area. EEE, WEE, WNV are all transmitted by biting insects---how many bitng insects do you see on your horses daily during the spring and summer? Rabies--the big reason for recommending this yearly in horses is because of the risk of transfer to humans. More horses than most people realize contract rabies every year and for each horse they expose at least 2 people---the owner and the vet---then factor in every person who trooped through and checked on the sick horse at the barn, the person who feeds and/or clean's stalls, the vet's assistants, anyone who helped load the horse in the trailer to go to the vet's office, etc.

I would recommend that you check out the 12 part series on vaccination that was printed in The Horse magazine. It's available free on their website. It's a great place to get good information. These two in particular would be of interest to you:

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