Yes, you should vaccinate your pets. And no, they can’t get autism.
That’s the surreal message the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is pushing out to pet owners. It comes amid a mounting trend of individuals who refuse to vaccinate their dogs due to a mistaken belief that shots can cause autism. This theory — which originally stems from a widely discredited and later retracted 1998 study that purported to find a link between autism and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine — has been repeatedly disproven in humans, and has no scientific basis when it comes to animals.
“There’s currently no reliable scientific evidence to indicate autism in dogs (or its link to vaccines),” the BVA wrote in a tweet Tuesday, after the morning show Good Morning Britain put out a request for pet owners who were resisting vaccination. “Potential side effects of vaccines are rare & outweighed by the benefits in protecting against disease.”
The next day, the organization tweeted that, “Scaremongering can lead to knee-jerk reactions resulting in outbreaks of disease #VaccinesWork.”
Dogs are vaccinated against a range of diseases, including distemper, hepatitis and rabies. Vaccinating against these conditions often protects both animals and humans, since dogs can transmit certain illnesses, including rabies, to people.