Medical

Some Anti-Vaxxers Aren’t Getting Their Pets Vaccinated. Here’s Why That’s So Dangerous

While there are a number of reasons owners didn’t vaccinate their pets, according to a new survey the majority thought it wasn’t necessary and expensive.

Dogs can’t get autism, and even if they could, vaccines couldn’t cause it. Period. But some anti-vaxxers are increasingly making the same unfounded claims about pets and vaccines they’ve been repeating about children and vaccines for the past 20 years: that vaccines are unnecessary, dangerous and that they can cause a form of (canine) autism, along with other diseases. Just as with kids, that may be driving down pet vaccination rates. And the movement, while niche, shows no sign of stopping; in some states in the U.S., anti-vax activists have recently agitated to make state laws about mandatory pet vaccinations more lax.

The problem is acute in the United Kingdom. In its most recent annual report, Britain’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) surveyed more than than 4,600 pet owners and found that in 2018, about 25% of dogs—2.2 million of them—had not had their necessary vaccinations when they were young. That’s roughly on par with rates last year, which had jumped significantly. The most common reason people gave for not vaccinating their dog—accounting for 20% of responses—was that “it’s not necessary.”

Whatever the justification, every owner who does not vaccinate a dog contributes to endangering a great many other dogs too. “[T]he figures for pets not receiving primary vaccinations and regular boosters may threaten population-level immunity,” the authors wrote in the report.

The numbers are also high for other pets; 35% of cat owners did not have their kittens vaccinated, and 41% of older cats hadn’t received their regular boosters. Almost half of pet rabbits had not been vaccinated when they were young.

These increasing trend lines are consistent with what has happened with human vaccine rates after the thoroughly debunked rumors that vaccines can cause autism began (and rates of unvaccinated children have spiked). Indeed, the fear of “canine autism”—which, again, does not exist—could be contributing to vaccination refusals. In April 2018, Gudrun Ravetz, Senior Vice President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), issued a statement debunking the link between pet vaccinations and autism after a British morning show stoked fears of this link on social media.

“There is currently no reliable scientific evidence to indicate autism in dogs or a link between vaccination and autism,” she said. “Vaccinations save lives and are an important tool in keeping our pets healthy.”

Source: US Fox News