The age of misinformation and ridiculous fads might have spat out its strangest love child yet: anti-vaxxers for dogs. Yup, misleading theories from the anti-vaccination movement has spread to pet owners (kind of like a nasty infectious disease).
Vets are warning about the growing trend of people not vaccinating their dogs out of fears that they can cause all kinds of illnesses – including “pet autism,” according to reports in the Brooklyn Paper and Psychology Today.
“We do see a higher number of clients who don’t want to vaccinate their animals,” Dr Amy Ford of the Veterinarian Wellness Center of Boerum Hill told the Brooklyn Paper last year. “This may be stemming from the anti-vaccine movement, which people are applying to their pets.”
Well, just be crystal clear, dogs can not get autism from a vaccination. In fact, it’s extremely doubtful that non-human animals can be defined as autistic at all. A few studies and the odd bit of anecdotal evidence has suggested that the over-vaccination of pets might put a very small minority of dogs at risk of certain conditions.
However, unless you like the idea of rabies, canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, and canine adenovirus, the majority of veterinary organizations would suggest you stick to the recommended vaccine guidelines. Just as the case with humans and infectious disease, dogs and other pets rely on herd immunity, so vaccinations remain the most effective way to ward off a widespread epidemic of contagious and preventable illnesses.
Fears about vaccine safety in humans all stem from a fraudulent study by ex-doctor Andrew Wakefield. The 1998 study argued there was a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the appearance of autism and bowel disease. His study was officially retracted from the journal it was published in after they found a "fatal conflict of interest,” dubious data, and generally fishy research methods. He was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and has since been banned from practicing as a doctor in the UK.
Nevertheless, the anti-vaxxer movement has still gained an ugly new relevance in the Age of the Internet. Let's just hope the pooches aren't the ones to lose out after this latest madness.