Yes, “dog anti-vaxxers” is a thing. In Brooklyn. But they might not be as crazy as you think

A story appeared in New York’s Brooklyn Paper last week claiming that “hipster-y” pet owners are withholding vaccinations from their animals due to fears of autism.

That sounds pretty insane, right?

The story set off a flurry of incredulous pieces about how the anti-vaccination movement has jumped across the species barrier, and how this trend could put dogs and cats in danger of contracting lethal diseases.

To a point, I agree. I am not an anti-vaxxer — and not wanting to vaccinate your dog at all because you’re afraid it might become autistic is pretty terrible reasoning.

But if we take hipster Brooklynites out of the equation here, these stories are obscuring a real problem.

When it comes to pets, it’s not vaccinations, per se, that are the problem. It is over-vaccination. None of the stories I read following the outbreak of incredulity mentioned this.

Many highly experienced veterinarians are now warning that vaccinating our pets for the same diseases every single year is unnecessary and can actually lead to health problems.

People who are pro-vaccination in general are also typically fans of science. Well, it turns out there is no real science behind the recommendations for annual vaccinations. In fact, there isn’t even science behind the three-year interval recommendation.

Those recommendations are “completely arbitrary,” according to Dr. Richard Ford, a professor of medicine at North Carolina State University. Ford was part of a task force set up by the American Animal Hospital Association that evaluated data from studies that showed that the core vaccines had a minimum duration of immunity of at least seven years. Not one, not three, but seven. Some vets even believe one shot of certain vaccines can produce disease immunity for an animal’s lifetime.

So where did we get the idea that we should be vaccinating dogs and cats every year of their lives?

Studies to assess duration of immunity are…

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