Vets are urging people to think about long-term animal care before buying a puppy or kitten, after figures revealed millions of the country’s favourite pets could be at risk from disease and pests.
According to figures from MSD Animal Health, 55.5 per cent of dogs (4.99 million) and 77.5 per cent of cats (6.97 million) in the UK are not vaccinated against illnesses including distemper, cat flu and feline leukaemia.
Now Vets4Pets is encouraging all new puppy and kitten owners to give their pet a healthy start to life by providing suitable vaccinations and treatments.
Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Vaccinating your pet provides it with the best level of care possible and helps to prevent millions of puppies and kittens catching some particularly nasty diseases that can have very serious consequences.
“Puppies and kittens should also receive appropriate treatments for common ailments, including fleas and worms, for their entire life.
“To help new owners we’ve launched a Puppy and Kitten campaign that will provide support to help make the UK one of the healthiest countries in the world for pets.
“At www.vets4pets.com/pet-advice/puppy-and-kitten/ owners of puppies and kittens can find out the most appropriate ways to care for their new arrival, from the moment their tiny paws step into their new home.
“By vaccinating and treating more puppies and kittens from an early age, it should gradually improve the overall health of our adult dogs and cats.
“Worryingly, 86 per cent of pet owners would vaccinate their pet if a disease was present in their local area, which in many cases will be too late.”
Figures also show that 53 per cent of owners don’t keep up with their pet’s vaccinations because of cost, while half of pet owners think vaccinations are not necessary or haven’t even thought about inoculating their pet.
But pet health isn’t limited to just vaccinations. According to the new research, only one in ten dog owners and one in five cat owners provide their pet(s) with the recommended monthly flea treatments, leaving up to eight million dogs and more than six million cats at risk from the itchy pests.
Figures on worming were slightly better with almost a quarter of dogs (up to seven million pets) and cat owners (up to 6.1 million pets) following the recommended quarterly worming treatment programme.
Dr Stacey added: “Effective and regular flea and worming control will help make sure your dog, cat and house stay free from fleas and pets free from the various types of worms.
“A heavy worm infestation can cause sickness, diarrhoea, weight loss and weaken a pet’s immune system, while a single flea can produce over 2,000 eggs in its lifetime, which can easily result in an infestation.”