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36 MIN READ TIME

Protecting Our Pets

by Fiona Nicholson, Science Writer

AROUND a quarter of families in Scotland own at least one dog, and many more are home to our feline friends, so health protection in the form of the annual vaccination comprises a large and lucrative part of the small animal veterinarian’s workload. Many vet practices send out an annual reminder to clients when boosters are due and this annual vaccination protocol is followed by caring responsible owners who believe they are protecting their pets from serious disease.

Yet as long ago as 2004, the BBC news channel publicised an open letter signed by over thirty vets, stating that annual vaccination is unnecessary, expensive and imposes risks of serious adverse reaction in pets which undergo the annual vaccination regime. The letter accused veterinary vaccine manufacturers of ‘fraud by misrepresentation, fraud by silence and theft by deception’ for promoting annual immunisation as essential to pet health, arguing that for several vaccines, the duration of immune activity of the drug is far longer than one year. In many cases it requires only a single vaccination to protect the animal for life. However, David Sutton, speaking for global veterinary drugs producer Intervet, who produce the majority of animal vaccines used in the UK, stated that the annual vaccination recommendations are based on scientific data, and that there was a lack of data to provide evidence of the duration of immunity from a single vaccination dose. Therefore, annual vaccines are necessary to protect our pets from diseases such as distemper, adenovirus and leptospirosis.

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