The Anti-Vaccination Movement Has Apparently Spread To Pets
Veterinarian Reviewed on August 10, 2017 by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM
Posted in Cats
A growing number of New York pet owners are now refusing to vaccinate their pets, citing the same skepticism surrounding vaccinations for human beings.
The anti-vaccine movement started a few years ago when parents began spreading rumors that the shots could cause various conditions, most notably autism. There is no scientific evidence linking vaccinations to autism but the rumors perpetuated nonetheless.
Legitimate Cause For Concern
Dr. Amy Ford of the Veterinarian Wellness Center of Boerum Hill told the Brooklyn Paper earlier this month that she has recently observed a rise in similarly “concerned” pet owners who don’t want to vaccinate their dogs and cats.
“It’s actually more common in the hipster-y areas,” she said. “I really don’t know what the reasoning is, they just feel that injecting chemicals into their pet is going to cause problems.”
Dog vaccines for canine parvovirus, bordetella, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are known as “core” vaccines because they can be transmitted to humans. New York law, however, requires only the rabies vaccination in order to obtain a pet license.
Five people were instructed to get the rabies vaccine last month after being bitten by a squirrel in Prospect Park, though it’s unclear if the animal actually had the disease, which kills approximately 55,000 people a year.
According to Slate, The Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control recommends immediate euthanasia for dogs and cats that have never been vaccinated and are exposed to rabies. The only alternative is vaccinating the animal before placing it in strict isolation for approximately four months.
Debunking The Skepticism
Some dogs have experienced negative reactions to vaccinations such as fever, urticaria, vomiting or diarrhea but these symptoms are reportedly not difficult to treat.
Reactions of this nature seem to have given vaccination-deniers the impression that the shots could endanger their immune system.
Dr. Stephanie Liff of Clinton Hill’s Pure Paws Veterinary Care says several clients have voiced their fears over vaccinations causing autism.
“I had a client concerned about an autistic child who didn’t want to vaccinate the dog for the same reason,” she told the Brooklyn Paper. “We’ve never diagnosed autism in a dog. I don’t think you could.”
Why Pets Are In More Danger Than Humans
Dr. Liff wasn’t exactly surprised to learn that the anti-vaccination movement had spread to pets because it wouldn’t be first time animal health care was affected by human health care.
“Most trends in veterinary medicine are extensions of human medicine, so I think the anti-vaccination movement extending into veterinary medicine is natural,” she explained.
But people don’t contract diseases the same way animals do, making pets much more vulnerable to diseases prevented by vaccinations than humans.
“It’s a little different,” Liff said. “My patients eat dirt. They eat poop.”
The Brooklyn Paper notes that not all forward-thinking Brooklynites are opposed to vaccinations. At least one dog owner told the publication that “it’s a really good idea to vaccinate both your dogs and your kids,” while she and her partner sported hats made out of leaves.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan