Vets are warning cash-strapped pet owners that low vaccination levels are putting their animals at risk of serious, and even potentially deadly, disease after a survey showed that many animal lovers blame cost for their failure to immunise their animals.
The poll comes as National Vaccination Month, being spearheaded throughout May by wildlife broadcaster Chris Packham, continues.
- 39% of pet owners surveyed admit they are not keeping vaccinations up to date
- This figure rises to 47% among younger pet owners 25-34
- 48% of owners of unvaccinated pets cited cost as the reason for not vaccinating in the past 12 months
- A third of pet owners surveyed have reduced the money spent on their pet due to the recession. This includes vet checks (6%), routine treatment such as worming (9%) and pet insurance (8%)
The survey also found that vaccination levels differed strongly by pet owner region.
- Pet owners in the West Midlands are the worst culprits with half of pet owners admitting their animals are unvaccinated
- The North West comes next, where 43% of pets have either lapsed immunity or never been vaccinated
- This compares to Yorkshire/Humber, and London on 35%; the South East with 29%; the East of England at 28%, the South West on 26%, Wales on 25%, and the North East, and East Midlands on 24%
- Scotland’s pets look to have the best vaccination rates, with only 20% saying that their animals are unvaccinated
An increase in outbreaks of parvo virus – a killer in dogs and puppies – along with evidence to suggest that three quarters of vet practices in the UK have seen Cat Flu in the past year, is fuelling fears of disease hotspots developing across the country.
TV’s Zoo Vet Matt Brash said: ‘There appears to be a worrying trend of falling vaccination– among those not protecting their pets, large numbers have stopped within the past two years. It is also really concerning that for famillies with pets appear hardest hit.’ He continued, ‘If vaccination falls below a certain level in parts of this country, it could have an impact on herd immunity, with the result being that we could start to see disease hotspots developing.’
As part of the National Vaccination Month Campaign, which sees the involvement of more than 2,000 vet practices nationwide, Chris Packham is also attempting to raise awareness of the importance of vaccination. ‘As a dog owner myself, I am hoping that this campaign could be the incentive pet owners need to get their animals back on track with vaccinations and help them stay healthy.’
Throughout May, vet practices across the country will be offering a discount on vaccination through www.nvmonline.co.uk to encourage pet owners of unprotected cats, dogs, rabbits or horses over 18 months of age (over 9 months for rabbits, 12 months for horses) not to cut back on life-saving healthcare. See the website for more information and full eligibility conditions.