It’s ‘too expensive’ was the top reason owners gave for not vaccinating their pets, according to new figures released by PDSA. The vet charity’s latest report revealed six million pets could be at risk of deadly diseases due to a dramatic decline in vaccinations.

The charity’s seventh PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, which monitors pet welfare issues across the UK, estimated just 75 percent of dogs and 65 percent of cats received a primary vaccination course when young. It’s the lowest level ever record by the Report. The survey also found only 66 percent owners kept their pets protected with vital annual booster vaccinations.

PDSA Head of Pet Health and welfare, Nicola Martin, said, “The decreasing number of dogs, cats and rabbits receiving vaccinations is a great concern for the health and welfare of the nation’s pets. Vaccinations protect pets from infectious diseases, which can severely impact their health, and can often be fatal. An initial vaccination course, and regular boosters help prevent diseases such as parvovirus, cat flu and myxomatosis.

Twenty percent of both dog and cat owners and ten percent of rabbit owners cite cost as the main reason for not vaccinating. Nicola adds, “We are a nation of animal lovers, but the latest PAW Report highlights how many owners continue to seriously underestimate the costs of owning a pet. Despite potential lifetime costs of dog ownership easily rising to £21,000, the Report revealed 98 percent of dog owners underestimate the true lifetime cost of caring for their pet.”

Other reasons given include a feeling that vaccinations were ‘unnecessary’, a response provided by 14 percent of dog owners, 22 percent of cat owners and 32 percent of rabbit owners. 24% of pet owners said they hadn’t vaccinated as their pets never come into contact with other animals.

Nicola continues, “These findings show there’s a real lack of knowledge of the devastating diseases pets are susceptible to if they’re not protected through vaccination. It’s important we improve vaccination levels before we see a rise in pets suffering from preventable and often fatal diseases.”

Trevor’s story

Twelve-week-old Trevor had only been with owner Courtney Laird a few days when he began to show worrying signs that something was wrong. Courtney had made a vaccination appointment but by the time the appointment came around, Trevor was vomiting and experiencing diarrhoea. Too ill to get the vaccination, vets diagnosed him with the highly contagious dissease parvovirus and Trevor was admitted to Nottingham PDSA Pet Hospital.

Courtney said, “Trevor was bought as a gift for me and my eight-year-old son, Jayden. Looking back, he didn’t seem right from day one. I’d made an appointment for his vaccinations, and by the time I got him there, he’d gone downhill very quickly; I knew something was seriously wrong.”

Trevor deteriorated and was placed in intensive care for four days. He was placed on a drip and given fluids as he suffered from dehydration, sickness, a dangerously high temperature and bloody diarrhoea.

Trevor with PDSA vet Amber Shubinsky

PDSA Senior Vet Flo Morrison said, “Sadly there is no cure for parvovirus and it was touch-and-go for Trevor. He received intensive care for four days. As parvo is highly contagious, barrier nursing techniques were used to prevent the virus from spreading to other pets. He was syringe-fed to help to keep his strength up – and despite being so desperately ill, he always managed to wag his tail when staff tended to him.

“Thankfully, Trevor’s condition started to improve and he was able to go home once he was eating normally and his symptoms had subsided. He is very lucky to still be here – tragically not all dogs make it. A simple vaccination is the answer, and can be the difference between life and death.”

Spread the word

In response to the decline in vaccinations, PDSA has launched a new campaign #Spreadtheword to raise awareness about preventable diseases. To find out more about vaccinations and protecting your pets, go to PDSA website.


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