The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has said there is no scientifically proven link between vaccines and autism, nor is there proof that dogs are capable of developing the condition.
This information has come following a rise in pet owners refusing to vaccinate their pets, fearing that potentially life-saving injection could lead a dog to develop the lifelong, learning condition.
The ‘anti-vaxx’ movement has seen people, especially in America, warn pet owners about risks which they say are connected to vaccines administered by veterinary professionals. As a result, many pet owners have decided to stop allowing their pets to be vaccinated or stop taking them to the vets altogether.
Gudrun Ravetz, senior vice president of the BVA, said: “Vaccinations save lives and are an important tool in keeping our pets healthy. 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.
“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 reliable scientific evidence to suggest autism in dogs or a link between vaccination and autism.”
She added: “We know from the example of the MMR vaccine and its now disproven link to autism in children that scaremongering can lead to a loss of public confidence in vaccination and knee-jerk reactions that can lead to outbreaks of disease. Distemper and parvovirus are still killers in pets – and the reason we no longer see these on a wider scale is because most owners sensibly choose to vaccinate.
“Pet owners should always feel comfortable talking to their own vet who knows the individual animal and understands the local disease situation, which can vary across the country. It is important to tailor a vaccine programme to each pet and owners should speak to their vet for advice or to raise any concerns they may have about a disease or vaccine.”