‘Never diagnosed autism in a dog’: Why some pet owners aren’t vaccinating their dogs

More pet owners are opting not to vaccinate their pups.
More pet owners are opting not to vaccinate their pups. Wikimedia Commons

Can vaccinating your dog give them autism?

That’s just one of the concerns from an increasing number of Brooklynites who are opting to not vaccinate their pooches at an increasing rate, according to the Brooklyn Paper.

There has been growing discussion lately about whether vaccines could come with unsavory side effects, despite the original study that said vaccines cause autism being retracted and called an “elaborate fraud” by the medical community.

A 2015 Gallup Survey found that 54 percent of Americans said it was “extremely important” for parents to vaccinate their children, down 10 points from a 2001 Gallup survey with the same question — while a 2016 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that around 90 percent of pediatricians encountered a parent who refused to vaccinate their child in 2013. That marked an increase from around 75 percent who responded the same in 2006.

That moderate increase in vaccine fears has now spilled over to Brooklyn dog owners, according to two veterinarians who spoke with the Brooklyn paper.

“We do see a higher number of clients who don’t want to vaccinate their animals,” Dr. Amy Ford, of the Veterinarian Wellness Center of Boerum Hill, said to the Brooklyn Paper. “This may be stemming from the anti-vaccine movement, which people are now applying to their pets.”

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The trend in avoiding vaccinations for dogs is particularly common in “the hipster-y areas,” where people are more likely to engage in a holistic lifestyle, Ford said.

But they don’t always provide a reason why.

“I really don’t know what the reasoning is, they just feel that injecting chemicals into their pet is going to cause problems,” Ford said.

But Dr. Stephanie Liff, of Clinton Hill’s Pure Paws Veterinary Care, told the Brooklyn Paper that she isn’t surprised to see more dog owners hesitant about vaccines.

“Most trends in veterinary medicine are extensions of human medicine, so I think the anti-vaccination movement extending into veterinary medicine is natural,” she said.

Liff said some clients have suggested that their pup could develop autism if vaccinated — the same concern from some parents about vaccinating their children. But she said that you wouldn’t even notice if your dog developed autism, even if that was possible.

“We’ve never diagnosed autism in a dog,” she said. “I don’t think you could.”

The core vaccines for dogs include hepatitis, distemper and rabies, which is required by law. There is just a .04 percent of a pup experiencing an allergic reaction from a shot, according to Liff.

Liff, whose dog is vaccinated, said patients are encouraged to get their dog’s shots renewed every three years, especially because of the major differences in how canines can catch diseases.

“It’s a little different,” Liff said. “My patients go out and are exposed to things. They eat dirt. They eat poop.”

“I see more diseases that could be prevented by vaccination than I see reasons not to do it.”