Anti-vaxxers (people opposed to vaccinations) are suspicious about inoculations. They feel that they may cause autism in pets. This is an extension of the long-running debate about the possibility of vaccinations causing autism in children.
Scientifically speaking that argument has been debunked but ordinary citizens with children and pets to look after remain suspicious.
Also, there has been a general shift in opinion about vaccinating pets. Historically, there has been over-vaccination by veterinarians. This has also created a backlash against vaccinations amongst a segment of pet owners.
Apparently, veterinarians in Brooklyn, New York (I’m not sure whether veterinarians in other parts of New York state or indeed America have had the same experiences) are reporting that pet owners are withholding vaccinations against serious pet diseases because they have suspicions that they can damage their pets and cause autism.
A central problem with this argument is that I don’t know of any veterinarians writing on the Internet about autism in cats and dogs. I think that you will find that there is no evidence that it exists in cats and dogs. How do you diagnose it? That does not mean it does not exist. It is probable that it could exist but there is currently no evidence of it. There are stories of cats and dogs behaving bizarrely and pet owners claiming that this bizarre behaviour is due to mental illness including autism. These are just stories without any scientific evidence to support them.
Often bizarre behaviour in cats is due to environmental conditions and poor ownership. Also, the word “bizarre” is misused. It often means behaviour which the owner does not understand, which is in fact quite normal considering the conditions under which the cat lives.
Dr Amy Ford of the Veterinarian Wellness Centre of Boerum Hill said:
“We do see a high number of clients who don’t want to vaccinate their animals… This may be stemming from the anti-vaccine movement, which people are applying to their pets.”
As mentioned, this scepticism towards inoculating cats and dogs appears to have resulted from the MMR vaccine of kids which was said by Dr Wakefield to cause autism in children. As I recall, Dr Wakefield was struck off the British medical register because of allegations that his science was fraudulent. He forged a fresh career in America. Many people still believe him particularly in America. This sentiment has spread to include concerned cat and dog owners who were already concerned about the over-vaccination of pets and who are sensitive to the possibility that vaccinations could affect mental health and therefore cause autism. We know that, rarely, vaccines can harm pets.
Vets are miles away from understand mental health issues in cats and dogs except for depression but that issue raises big question marks. We should be cautious about giving cats and dogs human mental health problems.
For the sake of clarity, autism is a disorder which affects a person’s social interaction, communication interests and behaviour.
As an aside, I think that the diagnosis of autism is often abused by doctors. I sometimes feel that it is a manufactured illness and that autism is simply normal behaviour in children but disruptive behaviour and perhaps extreme behaviour which medical professionals have decided needed to be pigeonholed and labelled and so they invented “autism”.
Perhaps this mini trend by anti-vaxxers in refusing to vaccinate their pets is a result of a lack of trust in veterinarians; veterinarians who have lost trust of their clients through prioritising financial profit over animal welfare. That is not to say by any means that all veterinarians do this. There are very many excellent veterinarians. I do not want to be accused of unjustly maligning and criticising veterinarians. They do a great job by a large but I am one of those people who think that they sometimes let themselves down. One very clear example of this is the declawing of cats. There is a gradual movement against that as well which is growing.
Source or idea for article from Brooklynpaper.com.