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12 May 2016, 08:10 | Updated: 12 May 2016, 08:11
Millions of family pets are at risk from killer diseases because they are missing out on simple vaccinations, veterinary charity PDSA has warned.
Preventable diseases such as parvovirus, leptospirosis and feline leukaemia can cause widespread deaths, say vets.
Diseases prevalent in wild animal populations, such as myxomatosis in rabbits, can also spread to their domestic counterparts, the charity adds.
The latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report reveals that more than 5 million dogs, cats and rabbits have never been vaccinated with a primary course, leaving them unprotected against dangerous illnesses which can take hold suddenly.
PDSA also reports that one in three pets are not receiving regular booster vaccinations. This is leaving them exposed to deadly bacteria and viruses as well as reducing the effect of 'herd immunity', it says.
PDSA vet Vicki Larkham-Jones said: "As a vet there is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing an animal lose its life to a disease that could have been prevented.
"Many pet owners don't realise the dangers of diseases like parvovirus until it's too late. It's a severe viral infection which is highly contagious and commonly leads to septicaemia and death in dogs.
"Our research found that nearly a quarter of pet owners that haven't vaccinated their pets think vaccination is unnecessary. The figure among rabbit owners that don't vaccinate is even higher, with one in three citing this reason for not vaccinating.
"This is obviously very concerning and shows we need to raise awareness of how essential vaccinations and regular boosters are.''
PDSA is aiming to vaccinate more than 60,000 pets this year through its network of 51 pet hospitals.