New UK Animal Welfare Report Shows Sharp Decline in Pet Vaccinations

The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) is a UK charity that runs hospitals which provide free and low-cost veterinary care.  Each year they produce a report on animal well-being known as the PAW Report.

The latest PAW Report (click HERE for the full text) has been getting a lot of attention because it has found that the rate of pet vaccinations in the UK is on a sharp decline.

The PDSA estimates that over 7 million UK pets are at risk for disease because of lack of vaccination, including very young pets that are the most vulnerable.

The number of primary vaccinations received by young pets has dropped from 84% in 2016 to 66% in 2019, an 18% decrease.  32% of pets in the UK are not receiving their booster shots.

Reasons for not vaccinating cited by pet owners include:

  • Too expensive
  • Pets don’t encounter other animals
  • It’s unnecessary
  • Going to the vet is stressful for pets

The report’s authors note that the decline in pet vaccinations mirrors the decline in child vaccinations.  Many people who are reluctant to vaccinate kids and pets show skepticism about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

According to PDSA veterinarians, “Vaccinations have helped to protect millions of pets from serious diseases. If people don’t vaccinate, we risk seeing a rise in extremely unpleasant, preventable, diseases that can cause considerable animal suffering and death.”

If you have questions or concerns about vaccinations for your dogs, cats, and other animals, be sure to talk to your veterinarian.  You can also check out the Vaccinations page of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website for lots of helpful information.

 

Study Shows Owners of Flat Muzzled Dogs Often Ignore Health Risks of Brachycephaly

Researchers in the UK recently conducted a large-scale survey of owners of flat faced dog breeds like the Pug and French and English Bulldogs.

The findings show that while these breeds are very popular, owners often downplay the health problems associated with brachycephaly in their dogs.

Brachycephaly can cause a wide range of chronic health issues, including airway obstruction, skin fold infections, overheating, and corneal ulcers.

Many of the survey respondents said that their own dogs suffered from these health issues, and yet only a small percentage felt that their dogs were less healthy than average.  In fact, over 70% of owners rated their dogs as either in “very good health” or “the best health possible.”

In an article on the study published by the Royal Veterinary College, the researchers note that our attraction to flat muzzled dogs can often lead us to rationalize their health problems.

One veterinarian involved in the study offered this important assessment of our role as responsible pet owners in addressing the health and well-being of our animal companions:

“After almost a decade working on brachycephalic dogs, I have come to realize that the issue is as much a human problem as it is a dog problem. As humans, we design, breed and choose the dogs we own but our dogs have to live, for better or worse, with those outcomes. With such great power comes great responsibility. Deeper understanding of the human reasons for our choices can help us make better decisions and to improve the welfare of our ‘best friend’.”

 

August 4-10 is International Assistance Dog Week!

Mark your calendars, dog lovers…International Assistance Dog Week starts this Sunday, August 4th!

IADW was created to recognize all the wonderful assistance dogs who help make life a little easier for people with disability-related limitations.

According to the official IADW website, assistance dogs help humans with both physical and mental disabilities by serving as devoted companions, helpers, aides, best friends, and family members!

The event organizers also work to recognize all the dedicated folks who raise and train puppies to become assistance dogs.

Be sure to check out the IADW website for lots of great information on the work assistance dogs do, as well as how you can participate in this annual awareness event!

 

Protect Your Dog’s Paws from Hot Pavement This Summer

We’ve all seen a lot of news stories about the dangers of leaving your dog in a hot car, but did you know that a simple stroll on the sidewalk can blister your pup’s paws when the weather is hot?

KUTV in Salt Lake City talked to a local veterinarian about the dangers of hot sidewalks.  He took a thermometer outside on a hot day and measured the temperature on a sunny sidewalk.  It registered 131 degrees!  In contrast, the shade temperature was just 80 degrees.

Paw blisters can happen in minutes, so to protect your dog, be sure to walk her on grass and in the shade.  Early morning is the safest time of day.

Click HERE for the story and video.

 

The Genetics of White “Socks” in Our Pets

White paws, often called socks, are an endearing color marking in our pets.  Socks are often seen in cats, but can also be found in dogs and other animals like horses and guinea pigs.

Where do socks come from?  According to a recent article in Popular Science, which outlines some new scientific research on the genetics of coat color, white socks are a form of piebaldism (a genetic mutation that causes white patches of skin and hair).

Before birth, the cells that give color to a kitten’s eyes, skin, and hair (called melanocytes) are concentrated along the back.  During development, these pigment cells move to other areas of the body.

Sometimes the distribution is even, giving the cat a solid color.  But sometimes the color is spread unevenly, leaving white socks on the feet.  Many cats with white feet also have other white areas, such as the chest, belly, and part of the face.  Tuxedo cats are a good example of this.

Interested in learning more about the genetics of coat color in dogs and cats?  Check out this guide to coat colors and patterns in cats…and this one for dogs!