Fewer pets are having vaccinations

Over 7 million pets in the UK are at risk of suffering and disease through lack of vaccination, according to the latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report.

There has been a record decline in the number of young pets receiving their vaccinations, the animal welfare charity found.

Latest figures show that the number of pets receiving their primary vaccinations when young — protecting them from deadly diseases and viruses — has dropped from 84% in 2016 to just 66% in 2019. This 18 percentage point decrease in just three years could leave more than 7 million pets unprotected, the charity said.

Meanwhile, one third (32%) of pets aren’t receiving regular booster vaccines.

Of those pet owners who hadn’t vaccinated their pet, 17% said they thought it was ‘too expensive’, while another 17% said their pet didn’t come into contact with other animals. Other explanations included 16% who felt it was ‘unnecessary’, and 13% who said that their pet found going to the vets ‘very stressful’.

PDSA also highlighted One Health concerns that the ‘anti-vax’ phenomenon — scepticism towards the safety and efficacy of vaccines — could be directed towards pets as well as children.

Cats and dogs need regular vaccinations from an early age to protect them against a number of potentially fatal diseases.

Cats are commonly vaccinated against cat flu (feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus), feline infectious enteritis and feline leukaemia virus. For dogs, regular vaccinations protect against canine distemper, canine parvovirus, kennel cough, leptospirosis and parainfluenza.

If the vaccination rate drops, pets could be at risk from an outbreak of infectious diseases, some of which can be transmitted to humans, the RSPCA has warned.

“It’s extremely worrying to see such a decline in the number of young pets receiving their primary vaccinations,” said PDSA senior vet, Sean Wensley.

“Vaccinations have helped to protect millions of pets from serious diseases such as parvovirus, cat flu and rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease. If people don’t vaccinate we risk seeing a rise in extremely unpleasant, preventable diseases that can cause considerable animal suffering and death.”

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