As fears persist over the potential disease-laden domino effect of the anti-vax movement, experts in the field of animal care claim they're seeing an uptick in residents who are more hesitant to get their pets the immunizations that medical professionals say they need.

This trend, they claim, is based on nothing substantial and can cause health issues beyond just the animal population in New Jersey.

"There's certain diseases that we have to be a little more cognizant of in the veterinary world because we consider them zoonotic, as in they can affect our pets and the people that have the pets or the people around them," said Matthew Edson, owner of Rancocas Veterinary Associates in Mount Holly and president of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association. "Things like a rabies vaccine are really essential for all pets to have due to the human heath risks with that."

The association has been noticing a rise in the number pet owners choosing to decline vaccinations for their pets. Beyond zoonotic diseases, the association is also concerned about highly contagious viruses among animals, such as canine distemper, Parvovirus and Panleukopenia.

In New Jersey, a rabies vaccine is state law for cats and dogs. Proof is necessary in order to obtain a license for your pet in your municipality.

Edson said veterinarians in the Garden State are also seeing more interest among pet-owners in titer tests, which measure antibodies in a pet and may help determine whether a booster vaccination is absolutely necessary.

Similar to the anti-vaccine movement among humans, based on scientifically unsupported ties to autism, animal owners fear vaccines may be a cause for some long-term conditions commonly seen in pets, such as liver or kidney disease.

"There's a lot of information on the internet and much of it isn't that great," Edson said.

But Edson encourages owners to have a conversation with their pet's veterinarian about disease risks to their pets, and which vaccines are most important.

In a blog post on its website, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance said anti-vaccination sentiments are now spilling over to pet parenting.

The company lists the vaccines below as essential and medically necessary.

Dog Core Vaccinations

  • Parvovirus
  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus-2
Cat Core Vaccinations
  • Panleukopenia
  • Herpes virus
  • Rabies
  • Calicivirus

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