Vets are speaking out against pet owners who fail to vaccinate their animals as new studies found that millions of pets are now vulnerable to infection, according to a UK animal charity.
Fatal diseases such as cat flu, rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease, and parvovirus are becoming more prevalent in recent years as there has been an 18 percent decrease over three years in the number of pets who received their primary vaccinations when young, according to the 2019 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, as cited by CNN.
This dramatic number could mean that over 7 million pets could be vulnerable to potentially fatal diseases, the charity reported.
These findings — which came from a survey of 5,036 dog, cat and rabbit owners in the UK — have vets worried that anti-vaccination sentiments among humans might be affecting pets as well.
As the anti-vaccination movement in people has made waves, leading the Center for Disease Control to label anti-vaxxers as the top threat to global health, vets have expressed that they’re not surprised it’s affecting animals, too.
“Vets are deeply concerned about the creep of anti-vax sentiments into animal care. Our member survey found that 98% of vets have been questioned by clients about the need for vaccination,” Daniella Dos Santos, the British Veterinary Association’s junior vice president told CNN.
Sean Wensley, a PDSA senior vet, told the outlet that it is “extremely worrying” that so many pet owners are not vaccinating their animals, as “vaccinations have helped to protect millions of pets from serious diseases.”
“If people don’t vaccinate, we risk seeing a rise in extremely unpleasant, preventable, diseases that can cause considerable animal suffering and death.”
While pet owners have their reasons for not vaccinating — such as high costs, it not being necessary, or stressful vet visits — Dos Santos added that “vaccination is vital in protecting pets from preventable and potentially fatal diseases that can be devastating for families.”
Even more, vaccinating pets keep humans healthier too.
According to Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine, vaccinations are designed to protect both pets and pet parents.
Some diseases, such as rabies, are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to people. Vaccinating your pet helps reduce the risk of human infection, particularly in more vulnerable family members like young children, the elderly and immunosuppressed individuals in your household.