Talk to your vet and protect your pet – NOAH celebrates World Veterinary Day

World Veterinary Day takes place om 23 April, a day to celebrate how the UK vet profession has adapted to challenging times over the past year to continue to protect the health of our pets. They have adapted through national and local lockdowns and although people might have accessed vets in different ways, they have been there for our pets.

It’s time now to take stock and check if your pet’s preventive treatments, including vaccination, are up to date.

According to the PDSA PAW (1) report, the number of dogs in 2020 that received their initial vaccination dropped from 81% pre pandemic to 78% last year. Rabbits have been hit harder, with the numbers receiving a regular booster dropping from 58% to under half (49%). Another report, from Liverpool University’s SAVSNet (2), looked at numbers of veterinary vaccination consultations and found that they fell during lockdowns and came back up outside of them, but not back to pre-lockdown levels. This drop was across all species for the first lockdown but the variance during periods of restriction has been less subsequently, as practices have learned to adapt. However, for cats the reduction has remained more dramatic. If the level of protection drops, then diseases can start to reappear and take hold, so this could have an impact in the future on the health of our pets and leave them vulnerable.

While it’s clear that many people agree that regular vaccination protects our pets (3), for some it also causes concern, or perhaps they don’t think it’s relevant for their pet.

Dawn Howard, NOAH Chief Executive, takes a look at why this might be and explains why the benefits far outweigh potential concerns or misconceptions: “We all love our pets so much but may think that our own family pet is not one at risk.

“Companion animal vaccination has to some extent been a victim of its own success, as many pet owners no longer see preventable diseases, such as parvovirus or distemper in dogs, first-hand. Therefore, they may not feel it is necessary to keep their animal protected. Vaccination by responsible owners has kept many diseases in check, but control is not the same as eradication.

“Many cat owners believe that indoor cats do not need vaccinations. Unfortunately, cats can still contract disease even when kept indoors, even though the risk is lower. Some of the diseases we vaccinate cats against can only be passed on via direct contact, however a few can also be brought in from outside by their owners.

“To keep our pets safe, vaccination is recommended for all dogs, cats and rabbits, but what is appropriate for any individual animal is tailored very much to that individual’s needs, lifestyle and circumstances. It has been hard for us all this past year, but this is where your relationship with your vet is all important, and your vet is there for you and your pet still.

“Your vet has that background knowledge about your pet – and can provide reassurance on how the benefit of protecting your pet against the tangible risks of disease can offset any concerns you might have.

“The success of vaccination in controlling disease in our pets has led to a perceived diminished risk – but now particularly we cannot stop vaccinating, because we think disease has gone. Pet owners can take positive action by talking to their vet about the best protection for their pet, and what vaccinations they need,” Dawn Howard said.

Notes for Editors

  1. For further information contact Alison Glennon at NOAH on 07510062566, email glennon@noah.co.uk

  2. NOAH represents the UK animal health industry. It promotes the benefits of safe, effective, quality products and services for the health and welfare of all animals.

  3. (1) PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) report 2020 https://www.pdsa.org.uk/media/10540/pdsa-paw-report-2020.pdf

  4. (2) SAVSNet Impact of corona virus on veterinary practice report 6

    https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/media/livacuk/savsnet/Impact,of,COVID-19,on,companion,animal,veterinary,practice,report,6.pdf

  5. (3) Survey on knowledge and views on animal medicines in the UK https://www.noah.co.uk/new-survey-shows-growing-awareness-benefits-veterinary-medicines/