Dogs And Autism: Human Sanity Concerns Over ‘Canine Health Concern’


As friends, stalkers, regular readers or simply plain-old psychics might know, I’ve been out of the country for a week, throwing myself off the side of mountains in the name of adrenaline, enjoyment and over-priced middle-class adventure-holiday fun. Hence my shocking goggle-tan, slight working-class-guilt-pangs and radio silence here on the blog. Fortunately, I had a great time away… but I’ve got to say I’m a bit disappointed by how things were when I got back. People are still pretending to talk to the dead, homeopathy’s still on the NHS, and the Daily Mail is still pumping out batshit lunacy. Really, did you all do nothing while I was gone? Shocking.

Speaking of the Daily Mail and my own relative silence of late, here’s something uber-old-hat by now (news these days moves so fast) but I felt I had to write it up partly because a) it’s batshit insane, b) it’s a good example of how fallacious arguments are entirely interchangeably applicable to a whole range of topics and c) it gives me a chance to make some cheap gags:

Vaccines ‘are making our dogs sick as vets cash in’ - Source: Daily Mail (obviously).

See what I mean? Replace ‘dogs’ for ‘babies’ and ‘vets’ for ‘doctors’, and you’ve got a textbook anti-vaccination statement, a la Miss McCarthy. And it doesn’t stop there:

“Vaccines given to dogs are making them ill, a pet charity claimed yesterday. Profit-hungry drug companies and vets are ‘frightening’ dog owners into inoculating their pets more often than necessary, according to Canine Health Concern.”

If this isn’t PR for the Canine Health Concern charity, I don’t know what is. And it doesn’t stop there, either:

“Some puppies have developed conditions including autism and epilepsy after a raft of injections, it warns”

Yep – doggie autism. Doggie vaccines cause doggie autism, or so says the Canine Health Concern charity. Now, a few things to bear in mind:

  • Vaccines don’t cause autism. That’s established fact.
  • Dogs don’t have autism, or at least if they do it’s not caused by vaccines.
  • Canine Health Concern is not a very large charity, and does not often get national news coverage the size their ‘Vaccines cause autism’ story has.

Those facts established, let’s continue in the Mail:

“Catherine O’Driscoll, from the charity, said: ‘We are not anti-vaccination. What we are saying is that currently our pets are receiving far too many. The latest scientific research shows that after the first course of injections as a puppy most dogs are immune against these diseases for at least seven years, if not for life. Every year pet vaccination companies hold National Vaccination Month, a national campaign when pet owners whose boosters have lapsed by 18 months or more are terrified into having their pet jabbed.”

Well, I’m sorry, Catherine, but that sounds pretty anti-vaccine to me. And it’s surely easy to see just how pot/kettle/black it is to speak of animal owners who are being terrified by Big Pharma into having their pet jabbed… with stuff that will give them AUTISM!!!!1!!11!!

This, of course, is the same non-anti-vaccination Catherine O’Driscoll who has written two anti-vaccination and anti-medicine books (‘What Vets Don’t Tell You about Vaccines‘ and ‘Shock to the System: The Facts about Animal Vaccination, Pet Food and How to Keep Your Pets Healthy‘) - the first page of one mentions going to a homeopathic vet who opened her eyes to how things really are; page two of the other book has Catherine admit she was a ‘science virgin’ and that ‘most of us – even the scientists – are science virgins’. Not to mention this beauty on page three:

“What nobody understands, and nobody seems to know, is how great the vaccination risk is. Will my dog die if I give him a vaccine? Will my child have brain damage if I give her a vaccine?” – Source: Shock to the System

Answer: No, Catherine, he won’t, and she won’t, and thanks for equating your dog’s life to that of your child’s.

So it’s hard to take Catherine seriously as a genuine source of unbiased, educated information. Well, it’s hard, unless you’re the Mail I mean. But then again, the Mail also ran with the back-up, super-proof tale of Charlie the Autistic Spaniel, whose owner told of his personality post-vaccination:

“Shutting a door or moving the washing basket terrified him. Then sometimes, despite calling his name, he wouldn’t even come to you… I simply cannot think of another explanation for the sudden change in his personality”

I can: He’s a fucking dog.

Elsewhere in the article, the Mail merrily quotes the letter produced by the crazy CHC and signed by ’17 vets and other pet experts’. Note that’s 17 total, not 17 vets AND other pet experts. And Catherine counts as a pet expert, remember. I wonder how many vets would sign a letter backing the use of vaccines… Fortunately, I know a vet, who I got straight onto the phone to – MSS member and sometime-blogger ‘Redwinelover‘, who quickly put paid to the notion that, as O’Driscoll suggests, a simple blood test would determine whether an animal needed a booster shot:

“It would actually be much more expensive to pay for the blood test to see if the dog is covered for the various diseases than it is to give one booster, as the booster shot can cover all the necessary vaccinations. There’s a certain percentage of dogs that will need the vaccination each time, so the best practice is to vaccinate yearly – after an extra 6 months past the booster date, 5-10%” of dogs are no longer immune; after an extra 12 months past the booster date that rises to 10-20%.

Also, vets are culpable if they were to forego vaccinating an animal and it develop the illness.”

What’s more, she confirmed to me that dogs don’t develop autism - or at least that there’s nowhere near enough personality work done on dogs to determine what robust diagnostic criteria would be for doggie autism.

So, I’ve been pretty disparaging of the CHC and O’Driscoll so far, and perhaps that seems harsh or ad-hom-y. Well, let’s take a brief look at the CHC website, and see if the criticism is justified.

“CHC advocates real food for dogs.  That is, food that Mother Nature has designed, over millions of years, and which has made the species thrive for millions of years.”

Ooh, an appeal-to-nature fallacy, combined with the sheer idiocy to overlook that ‘Mother Nature’ isn’t the one responsible for how food and vegetables are today – instead millenia of selective breeding by humans have moulded crops into the food we know today.

“Emotional Freedom Techniques - Based on impressive new discoveries involving the body’s subtle energies, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) has been clinically effective in thousands of cases for Trauma & Abuse, Stress & Anxiety, Fears & Phobias, Depression, Addictive Cravings, Children’s Issues and hundreds of physical symptoms including headaches, body pains and breathing difficulties.”

Ooh, some mystical reference to ‘subtle energies’ and a healing system so completely bonkers in adults that we’ve featured it several times.

And what’s this in their ‘Complementary Healthcare’ list?

Animal Life and Death:

So, when your animals don’t heal, despite what you see as your best efforts, it is not that you are failing in your duty, or seeming not to be capable of healing anyone or keeping anyone safe, it is just that they see their going as the next best step, their own path to healing of the spirit rather than of the physical body.

Back Flower Remedies:

There are 38 Flower Remedies, developed by Dr Bach with the aim of raising our vibrations so that we can hear our Spiritual Selves and fulfil our life purposes… If the dog becomes fixated on something that happened – for example, he heard a loud bang outside and now refuses to go into the garden, then White Chestnut can help him get the distressing event out of his mind and carry on with life.

Contacts – including details for:

  • Association of British Veterinary Acupuncture
  • British Association of Homoeopathic Veterinary Surgeons
  • Emotional Freedom Technique for Animals – email catherine@carsegray.co.uk, or telephone Catherine or Rob on +44(0)1821 670410 (that’s Catherine O’Driscoll, no less)
  • McTimoney Chiropractic Association – 21 High Street, Eynsham, Oxford OX8 1HE. Tel 01865 880974. (good job puppies don’t get colic, I say)
  • Wellspring Herbal – Glandewi, Pontgarreg, Llangroannog, Llandysul, Ceredigion, Wales SA44 6AJ. Tel 01239 654458. For Essiac, anti-cancer tea. (anti-cancer tea. Really)

I think it’s fair to say O’Driscoll and the Canine Health Concern charity aren’t the most reliable, sensible, sane sources of animal health information. Quick, someone call the Mail and tell them they’ve made a mistake, I’m positive they’ll issue a correction…

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  1. #1 by Mathew Partridge on March 23, 2010 - 10:36

    “…which has made the species thrive for millions of years” Wow I wasn’t aware that the dog as a species had been around so long. The wonderful and flawed Wikipedia states that the divergence of wolf/coyote happened around 750,000 to 2 million years ago. Also domestication happened around 14,000 to 150,000 years ago. Hmmm that’s hardly millions of years of a thriving species even with the wild variations in the dating.

    Charlie the Autistic Spaniel would make an awesome kids cartoon.*

    *Love to the SGU for that one.

  2. #2 by Stu on March 24, 2010 - 11:23

    The Mail!!! It should be banned forthwith, along with The Express!

    Cant someone write an open letter to both of them to stop printing press releases as science? I might have a go myself.

    It’s not just the sciencey stuff either – their scaremongering about immigration, climate change denial and faith in psychics etc (DO NOT get me started) should have the PCC shutting them down for misleading a sizeable portion of the population!

  3. #3 by Stu on March 25, 2010 - 15:42

    I’ve looked at this womans’ website(!) What a pile of shite!

    A bit of investigation reveals what a woo peddler she really is. The most annoying thing is that she uses the CHC website to peddle her own, expensive, worthless remedies whilst using pseudo scientific garbage to pour scorn on real medicine. There is even a reference to faith healing for animals for fucks’ sake!

    Also, there is no mention on the Charity Commissions’ website of the CHC. This would indicate that the PR release published by the Daily Hate* as an article is trying to give credibility to a fucking charlatan.

    The ASA or OFT should surely close this website down?

    * Pinched from Julie Burchill.

  4. #4 by Erwin Alber on October 28, 2010 - 05:43

    Vaccination is along with nuclear weapons and GE the biggest and most dangerous nonsense ever invented.

    As far as I am concerned, vaccination is an organised criminal enterprise dressed up as disease prevention. There is NO WAY anyone with a vaccine would get anywhere near any child of mine. If they want to, they can stick their toxic filth into their own anatomy.

  5. #5 by JANET JUBILEE on December 20, 2010 - 03:54

    Well, at least some of us have the sense to look at what is in a vaccine. Let’s see, cow puss, rotted horses blood, monkey lungs, human aborted fetuses, toxic metals ect ect ect ect! This filth should be in a toxic waste dump, not in vaccines. The rabies shot is the worst and completely ineffective. NO ONE IS BOUND TO OBEY AN FASCIST LAW!

  6. #6 by Elsa-Marie Kitching on January 5, 2011 - 01:16

    Thanks to Cathy and her diligence very many of our beloved pets have been saved from appalling conditions associated with repeat vaccination.

    It is my credo not to put anything into nor onto my dogs that they would not put into nor onto themselves. All dogs are born with auto-immunity which should be kept viable with good nutrition, exercise and plenty of fresh clean water.

    Apropos Autism in Dogs…..it exists:
    I lived for two years next to a five-year old cocker spaniel who had an adverse reaction to his booster every year.
    Who was definitely autistic. Not on this planet. Nothing registered . Such a shame. He died aged nine.

    All dogs should eat raw meaty bones. I don’t know who started the rumour that dogs should eat only cooked foods but they were very wrong. Dried foods can cause acute renal failure as
    not all dogs drink enough water when on a pelleted diet. Mine get raw foods – chicken wings, Lambs liver, Pigs heart
    pigs trotters, pork rib bones, Manuka honey, Live Yoghourt, Seaweed supplement, Runner beans and some dried rolled oats. Their coats are glossy. Their teeth clean. Their breath is fresh.

    Their faeces are hard to push out which keeps their anal ducts open, un-blocked. Hence no costly rectification proceedures.

    I am a KC registered breeder, breeding only one or two litters a year which I absolutely love. My bitches have their pups
    with minimal effort. They communicate brilliantly and are
    just so happy. More importantly they are never in the vet. I do show and have
    achieved several Firsts and Bests. I adore my dogs and exercise proper duty of care to promote their health and wellbeing. As does Cathy with hers.

  7. #7 by Andrea on May 15, 2011 - 11:40

    I came across this by accident and this guy is just so narrow minded and shut off. He’s obviously not a dog lover or if he is, doesn’t care to open his eyes and see that they’ve managed for thousands of years without mans help of sticking needles into them! By the way, I’ve never in all of my 30 years of dealing with vets, EVER had them offer a titre test to check for antibodies – you can ask for one, but how many pet owners know about this? The vet doesn’t tell you that you can use this option. The vaccine is stored in the memory cells and these dont die off and only come into play when they need to. Google it and you’ll find this is research that comes from the Royal Dick University!!!

    Enough said I think….

  8. #8 by Pat Howarth on May 26, 2012 - 09:54

    I agree with 6…and am in the same position as she is. I’ve been a raw feeder all my doggie life…..I vaccinate homeopathically….but don’t ask my puppy buyers not to vaccinate, just get informed, and don’t over vaccinate.
    Ask for a blood test… costs about £25.00, not £50.00 as is the vaccination. Find out if your dog NEEDS to be vaccinated. Don’t let the vet talk you into something that only he will benefit from….He wants your money….he’s running a business….that comes first with more and more vets these days. James Herriot type vets are long gone. The animal comes 2nd to the fees. So very sad that only one in hundreds cares about your pet, more than your purse.

  9. #9 by Pat Howarth on May 26, 2012 - 10:00

    PS…. I feed raw and have done for all my 50 yrs in dogs. Lots of reasons to do so….but the main one is…..My dogs are never ill. They never see the vet. I’ve had 2 dislocations and an elective cesar on a bitch I bought in…..in the past 32 yrs in my breed.
    Get informed and use your common sense ….the vets are not infallible…..they are business men/women first and foremost…..Pet owners are far too trusting of vets….Buy from a breeder with knowledge of the breed and ask them questions and get answers….and use your own brain. You dog is a family member and deserves the best you can give it.

  10. #10 by Sandy Flamson on June 5, 2012 - 23:33

    Autism in dogs DOES EXIST. I have an Autistic dog.
    Our walks round the local fields have to be the same walk each day. eg. field 1 then field 2 and so on. If I try to take him a different way round eg. field 2 then field 3 then field 1, he will stand and shake in terror. He cannot walk straight up to anyone, but walks side ways up to people.

  11. #11 by Mike Lombaugh on January 17, 2014 - 18:57

    Apparently their “How can you do that to your children?” mommy-shaming doesn’t have the same impact on couples who don’t have children. So, they’re modifying the emotion over evidence tactic to target “pet-parents.”

    This was entirely new to me until 3 weeks ago when a woman looked me in the eye and told me that her dog had become autistic after receiving a Bordetella booster.

    She also tried to convince me that Mercola.com was a credible source, and after a oddly civil discourse, *then* decides to include that her sister’s baby died the day after it received a vaccine. Most people are going to lead with that.

    I see in these comments people who are equally disinterested in facts. Especially the one who claims to have learned the actual ingredients in vaccines and then runs off a list of things not found in vaccines.Others who mindlessly defend their woo priestess.

    They just jump on the bandwagon and regurgitate their tribal mythology because they think that angry=informed and its easier to bitch and moan than to actually learn.

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