Antivaxx spreads to pet owners: HALF of dog owners now hesitant about vaccinating their dogs (including against rabies) and a third think it could give their pooches AUTISM

More dog owners are concerned over vaccinating their pooches in the wake of Covid, a survey suggests.

Boston University researchers who questioned 2,200 people found half raised concerns over whether mandating shots for diseases like rabies was necessary.

Nearly 40 percent said they feared vaccines could give their dogs autism, despite there been no scientific evidence that this was a risk.

A third said they were not medically necessary, while a fifth suggested the risks from the vaccinations ‘outweighed the benefits’.

Vaccine skepticism is on the rise following Covid mandates, with fewer parents coming forward to get their children shots against dangerous diseases like measles. Experts say this could bring back once nearly eradicated illnesses.

Nearly 40 percent of dog owners suggested the shots could give their pets autism, despite there been no scientific evidence to back up the claim

Vaccine skepticism is on the rise following Covid mandates, amid concern it could spill over into pets (stock image)

Vaccine skepticism is on the rise following Covid mandates, amid concern it could spill over into pets (stock image)

Dr Matt Motta, a political scientist at the university who led the survey, said they were ‘pretty surprised’ by the results.

He told Bloomberg: ‘What this demonstrates is that Covid fundamentally changed how Americans look at vaccines. 

‘We are living in a world where states are considereing rolling back vaccine requirements. What’s to say pets aren’t the next fronteir?’

About 50million US households — or two in five — have a pet dog, estimates suggest.

Currently, most states legally require all pet dogs to be vaccinated against rabies within their first year of life.

This protects the animals from the disease but also their owners, for both of whom rabies is almost always fatal if contracted.

They are also strongly encouraged to get their pets other vaccines against diseases including canine distemper — which kills 80 percent of puppies it infects — and parovirus — that can prove fatal for up to four in ten dogs.

Over the Covid pandemic, however, there have been warning signs owners are becoming less willing to inoculate their dogs — often because they have ‘borrowed’ concerns linked to human vaccines such as autism.

Researchers have now sought to measure this by surveying a nationally representative sample on their attitudes to dog vaccinations.

The group of 2,200 participants only included 1,000 dog owners. They were questioned in March and early April this year.

Results also showed that of participants, 11 percent said they were aware their dogs were not fully up to date on their vaccines.

Another five percent said they were not sure.

Dr Motta and others said in the study: ‘The benefits of large scale canine vaccination policies are evident in the US, where access to canine rabies vaccines is  widespread.

‘In the United States, only one to three cases of dog-mediated rabies are reported annually.

‘In contrast, levels of rabies vaccination are lower across the developing world. In Ethiopia, for example, which suffers from a lack of access to canine rabies vaccines, less than 70 percent of dogs are vaccinated annually, and an estimated 2,700 Ethiopians die from rabies every year.’