The ‘anti-vaxxer’ movement has moved beyond vaccinating children and seeped into the realm of pet vaccines, according to the Telegraph, leading the British Veterinary Association to clarify that dogs cannot get autism.
'Anti-vaxxers' believe that immunisations have harmful side effects and may be the cause of autism in children - beliefs widely debunked by the medical community.
This theory is increasingly being applied to pets, particularly in the US, and there are fears it is spreading to the UK and could cause already low vaccination rates to fall.
The BVA statement acknowledged the issue stems from U.S. pet owners and cautioned British animal lovers to ignore the new trend:
“We are aware of an increase in anti-vaccination pet owners in the US who have voiced concerns that vaccinations may lead to their dogs developing autism-like behaviour.
“But there is currently no scientific evidence to suggest autism in dogs or a link between vaccination and autism.”
“All medicines have potential side effects but in the case of vaccines these are rare and the benefits of vaccination in protecting against disease far outweigh the potential for an adverse reaction.”
The issue gained attention when the morning show Good Morning Britain tweeted a request for individuals who subscribe to the theory that their pets could develop autism:
The BVA said: “While we welcome a platform for pet owners to discuss vaccinations, we’d be concerned about the adverse impact on pet health resulting from alarm such a show is likely to cause amongst pet owners if it does not offer a veterinary or scientific voice for a balanced perspective on the issue.”
The issue also comes at a time when pet vaccinations are already in decline:
Pet vaccination rates in the UK are already falling. The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report in 2017 showed that 25 per cent of dogs, 35 per cent of cats and 50 per cent of rabbits had not had a primary vaccination course when young, up on previous years.