What's best for your pet

CHOICE says pet owners dogged by unnecessary vaccinations

CHOICE says many pets may be getting vaccinated too often and unnecessarily by vets at a cost to both their owners' wallets and the animals’ possible health and wellbeing.

The consumer group reports despite international advice and professional guidelines, many adult cats and dogs are still receiving injections annually instead of the now recommended cycle of not more than every three years.

According to CHOICE, pet owners are not being told about new guidelines on socalled core vaccines -- which can not only save them money but also prevent adverse reactions and even the death of some animals.

“Last year the Australian Veterinary Association changed its guidelines to say adult cats and dogs should be given these vaccines no more frequently than every three years,” said CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn.

“But despite international advice too many vets here appear to recommending annual core vaccinations which protect against more serious dog and cat diseases.”

An industry survey suggests there might be a conflict of interest with about 90% of vets saying dog and cat vaccinations are the most important contributor to their turnover.

In another barrier to change, many of the labels on vaccines still state they can be used annually although the Australian regulator, the APVMA, is working with manufacturers to update this information.

In addition, while the Australian Veterinary Association says in most cases the core vaccines should only be administered no more than once every three years, the umbrella body only represents 60% of the profession.

Some pet owners who have lost their pets have joined forces to raise awareness and lobby for changes to the system. *

“If you are concerned your pet may have been vaccinated unnecessarily don’t be shy to ask questions and if necessary get a second opinion," said Zinn.

"It's important your dog or cat gets a health check up once a year, but too many vaccinations can do harm and the advice is they're unnecessary – especially if your pet is kept inside."

* Pet owner Elizabeth Hart is available to talk about her campaign: 0413 852 930

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