Leading vet charity PDSA is warning a record decline in the number of young pets receiving their vaccinations is leaving them unprotected and exposed to potentially fatal diseases.
The 2019 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report found the number of UK pets receiving their primary vaccinations when young – which protect pets from deadly diseases and viruses – has dropped dramatically from 84 per cent in 2016 to 66 per cent in 2019.
This could leave more than seven million pets unprotected.
Findings from the report also show that one third of pets are not receiving regular booster vaccines, which keep them protected from potentially fatal diseases.
Of those pet owners who hadn’t vaccinated their pet, 17 per cent said that they deemed it ‘too expensive’, while another 17 per cent said their pet didn’t come into contact with other animals.
Other explanations included 16 per cent who felt it was ‘unnecessary’, while 13 per cent said that their ‘pet found going to the vets very stressful’.
PDSA senior vet Sean Wensley said: “It’s extremely worrying to see such a decline in the number of young pets receiving their primary vaccinations.
“Vaccinations have helped to protect millions of pets from serious diseases such as parvovirus, cat flu and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease.
“If people don’t vaccinate we risk seeing a rise in extremely unpleasant, preventable, diseases that can cause considerable animal suffering and death.”
Sean added: “In addition to the vaccination findings, the PAW Report found there has been a decline in owners who feel informed about all of their pets’ 5 Welfare Needs – the five things that all pets need to be healthy and happy – contributing to millions of our much-loved pets not having their basic needs met.
“For example, 1.9 million dogs (19 per cent) are left alone for five or more hours every day, and 1.3 million dogs (13 per cent) aren’t walked every day, increasing the risks of obesity and poor mental wellbeing linked to isolation and boredom.”
Other concerning findings from PDSA’s latest PAW Report, which the charity believes is leading to unnecessary misery for pets, include:
• 31 per cent of dog owners, 56 per cent of cat owners are unaware of their pet’s current weight or body condition score, meaning they don’t know if their pet is overweight and suffering in silence;
• 25 per cent of rabbits are housed in inappropriate, small hutches where they are unable to exercise and show natural behaviours;
• 43 per cent of cats live in a multi-cat households, when cats generally prefer to live alone.