In the UK, a survey has found that there has been a decline in the number of pet owners vaccinating their cats and dogs.
It is said that 6 million cats and dogs are at risk from diseases because of this change in attitude towards pet vaccinations.
The survey found that one in four dogs and one in three cats received no vaccinations when they were young against the standard diseases such as parvovirus and cat flu.
Surprisingly, about 2.3 million dogs and 3.6 million cats were not vaccinated in the UK.
The proportion of dogs being vaccinated has fallen from 82% in 2011 to 75% in 2017 according to the survey. The survey included 4000 pet owners and was conducted by the well-known animal charity which runs 51 pet hospitals, PDSA.
One fifth or 20% of pet owners blamed the cost for not vaccinating. A quarter or 25% said that they did not vaccinate because their cat or dog did not have contact with other animals and therefore there was either no chance or less chance of contracting a disease.
The PDSA said that this showed “a lack of understanding of how these diseases spread”.
It would seem that pet owners in the UK have turned against, to a certain extent, pet vaccinations for a number of reasons including (these are my thoughts):
- The cost as mentioned.
- Veterinarians in the past promoting annual booster vaccinations which have now been proven to be unnecessary in general and in the eyes of pet owners was a means of increasing income rather than improving animal welfare. The upshot is that there is a slight lack of trust between pet owners and veterinarians in respect of vaccinations. Humans don’t usually have boosters.
- A greater awareness of the albeit rare but serious side effects of vaccinations such as cancer at the site of the vaccination. There may be a perception from some pet owners that vaccinations can cause an underlying illness which is unresolved.
Ultimately it is about risk and reward. When there is money involved and where the pet owner has some doubts about the benefits of vaccinations then there is a natural resistance to take their pet to the vet even for the simplistic reason that it is troublesome to take your pet to a vet. This in itself prevents a minor barrier which can be added to the others.
The information was reported in The Times newspaper of Thursday, June 22. I do not have a full report and therefore do not know whether the decline in pet vaccinations has resulted in a commensurate increase in cat and dog illness. I doubt whether it has but that is not to say that it won’t in the future.
One secondary but important issue is that when cats in a certain area are vaccinated against disease then that creates a zone where any particular disease is excluded and therefore if a cat living within that area is unvaccinated he/she is still protected. However, if less and less cats and dogs are vaccinated then these protected zones will decline exposing unvaccinated pets.