Is autism in dogs becoming a thing?

Published by I Love Veterinary

Updated on

I Love Veterinary blog is reader-supported, and we may earn a commission from products purchased through links on this page, at no additional cost to you. Learn more About Us and our Product Review Process >

We are all aware of the current trend of not vaccinating children because people are afraid that vaccines are dangerous and may cause harm and consequently autism. It all began in 1998 when a very small study of 12 children tried to link the MMR vaccine with the occurrence of colitis and autism-like symptoms in children. Since 1998, this study has been debunked numerous times by many studies that have shown absolutely no link between the vaccine and autism. The original study has been fully retracted in 2010 and the leader of the study, and later anti-vaxxer movement, Andrew Wakefield has lost his medical license.

Well, after the media scare about vaccines, nowadays about all vaccines, not just the MMR vaccine, the hysteria has spread to domestic animals. Without any research study, animal lovers and pet owners decided to join forces on the internet message boards and start an animal anti-vaxxer movement that became global.
Veterinarians are baffled every day when a new pet owner comes to their clinic demanding their dog not to be vaccinated because they read online that the vaccine will (not might) cause autism. These speculations go even to the extent that the rabies vaccine causes stomach cancer in dogs.
Vaccines in dogs are essential for building the immune system and providing a strong barrier against some of the cruelest canine viruses, especially for young dogs.

Is autism in dogs becoming a thing?

What are the most important vaccines for dogs and what will they experience with each disease if not vaccinated?

Every puppy begins his “vaccine journey” with a parvo/distemper combination vaccine called “The Puppy vaccine”. This vaccine contains only 2 different antigens because at that age their young body can only battle so much and these viruses are the most important for them.
In opposite to creating antibodies via vaccination, if the puppy gets in contact with the parvovirus it will most certainly develop the following symptoms: vomiting, bloody foul-smelling diarrhea (the blood in diarrhea comes from the intestinal mucosa), dehydration, inappetence, death. There is no cure for this debilitating disease and veterinarians can only give supportive therapy to help the body fight the virus on its own. Even then, there are no guarantees of success. Some puppies live, and some puppies die.

Puppy with anxiety - I Love Veterinary

Canine distemper, on the other hand, is far more awful. The disease is in two stages and begins as a regular respiratory disease with an accent on a greenish eye discharge and pneumonia. This then graduates to vomiting and diarrhea and in the second stage, the dog will develop neurological symptoms such as paralysis, seizures, convulsions, nystagmus, and death. This is very painful for the dog and for the owners to watch. In this stage, the dog is not aware of what is happening and might bite even the owners and other animals around.
Even with all these pieces of information available on the internet where anti-vaxxers gather to hate vaccines, they still decide that they will risk innocent lives and not vaccinate their pets. Even after witnessing a puppy struggle with parvovirus and dying in pain, they will still not vaccinate the next pet. Even after a whole litter will die because of not vaccinating, anti-vaxxers will still choose to believe that their dogs are better off without vaccines because they are afraid of autism more than death.

People from the veterinary medical community try every day to educate pet owners of the importance of vaccines and the quarantine period when they are young. If you are a veterinary professional and you’re reading this, please join the anti-anti-vaxxer battle. Every anti-vaxxer that we can turn is a success and a puppy saved.
There is no medical proof that vaccines can cause autism in children. Also, there is still no medical proof that autism exists in dogs. So, there is no medical proof that vaccines can cause autism in dogs. Changes in behavior in dogs should be investigated as a possible consequence of trauma (physical or psychological), not as a vaccine product.

Read more on this subject in the “Anti-vaxxers movement in veterinary medicine” article on our blog.

Sharing is caring!


Project dedicated to support and help to improve Veterinary Medicine. Sharing information and raising discussions in the veterinary community.


Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Drop your email below to join I Love Veterinary squad and enjoy regular news, updates, exclusive content, new arrivals and more!