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Why Vaccination Is Important For Our Pets Too

While many people agree regular vaccination protects our pets, for some it also causes concern, while others may think it’s not relevant for their pet.

April is not only National Pet Month but in 2021 it’s also World Animal Vaccination Day (April 20) and World Veterinary Day (April 24).


It’s no coincidence these three important dates fall in the same month and highlights just how the UK vet profession has adapted during the pandemic to protect the health and welfare of our pets.


Whatever the challenges, our vet professionals have worked on through national and local lockdowns, adapting their working practices to care for our pets and their humans.


As we ease out of lockdown, it’s time to take stock and check if your pet’s preventative treatments, including vaccination, are up to date. 


In 2020, the number of dogs that received their initial vaccination dropped from 81% pre-pandemic to 78% last year, reveals the PDSA PAW report.


The number of rabbits receiving a regular booster also fell from 58% to under half (49%).


If this level of protection drops, diseases can start to reappear and take hold, impacting on the future health of our pets.


Figures released from Liverpool University’s SAVSNet showed fewer of us took our pets to the vets for vaccinations during the first lockdown.


These figures rose after the first lockdown, and generally did not dip so much in subsequent lockdowns, as veterinary practices learned to adapt. However, although they have settled, they have not completely returned to pre-lockdown levels, with those for cats dropping significantly later in the year.


Work is still needed to educate pet owners about the benefits and encourage more of us to take our animal companions for vaccination.


While many people agree regular vaccination protects our pets, for some it also causes concern, while others may think it’s not relevant for their pet.


 “We all love our pets so much but may think that our own family pet is not one at risk. Therefore, we may not feel it is necessary to keep our animal protected,” explains Dawn Howard, NOAH Chief Executive.


“Vaccination by responsible owners has kept many diseases in check, but control is not the same as eradication.


She adds: “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. “


Dawn urges us to speak to our local veterinary teams to discuss any concerns we have.


She adds: “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.”


For cat owners, with indoor felines, Dawn also has this message: “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.


She adds: “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.”


Look out for more advice from NOAH on social media channels, using #VaccinesWork

National Pet Month: April 1-May 3


Press Office

For media information, images or to speak to a spokesperson about National Pet Month please contact Taz Thornton or Asha Clearwater at Turquoise Tiger on +44 (0)7920 461 044 or email

Please note we have access to a range of spokespeople via our coordinators, sponsors and most animal welfare organisations and charities who get involved with NPM.

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