Posted by Tina Hunt | 28/11/2019
As the anti-vaxxer movement among pet owners gains traction, Tina Hunt, Senior director UK and Ireland at Elanco Animal Health, explains why vaccinations are essential for pet and human health.
Pet owners are used to receiving an annual vaccination reminder from their vet. Yet over the past year, owners have started to question their necessity. Rather than preventing disease, some pet owners believe vaccines could in fact be the cause of a number of illnesses in their pets.
‘Anti-vaxxers’ is usually a term reserved for people who question the security of human vaccines, particularly when it comes to giving vaccines to children. But, as with many human health trends, this issue has spilled over into the animal health sector.
Animal anti-vaxxers base their beliefs on claims that vaccinations could cause autism in animals. This simply doesn’t stand up, not least because no dog has ever been diagnosed with autism. And scientific research to determine whether dogs can be affected by autism is not robust enough1.
Meanwhile, even if dog autism were proven, any link between vaccination and autism in humans has long since been rejected by the global scientific community.
In fact, the majority of veterinary health professionals will continue to assert that vaccinations are essential – not just to protect animal health but also to safeguard human health.
Take rabies, for example – a horrifying, life-threatening disease which can be spread from dogs to humans. Experts estimate up to 59,000 people worldwide die every year from rabies, the majority of whom are infected from the bite of a dog2.
These figures would be significantly higher were it not for the existence of an effective vaccination, which prevents dogs from catching the disease in the first place. The rabies vaccination has helped eradicate the disease across much of the world and protect the health of millions.
Key stakeholders, the World Health Organisation (WHO) among them, have now targeted 2030 to achieve a world without dog-mediated human rabies, which will be driven in-part through dog vaccination programmes.
Rabies is just one of a number of vaccinations recommended to protect dogs from serious diseases. Without them, owners not only put their own dog at unnecessary risk of disease but many other pets too.
Being a good owner demands we look after our pets’ health responsibly. If you’re unsure of your options, a chat with your vet can help you understand what’s best for their health.
Remember, prevention is always better than cure – vaccines give your pet the opportunity to fight disease and live a long and healthy life.
2According to the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC): https://rabiesalliance.org/resources/search?type=912#teaser-6024