To tackle these serious welfare issues, PDSA is launching #PawsFirst - a campaign which highlights the problem of rushing into getting a pet without understanding their needs***.
“Our #PawsFirst initiative encourages prospective pet owners to ask themselves if they are prepared for every aspect of pet ownership, challenging a developing culture of ‘click and collect’ for buying pets,” said Nicola Martin, PDSA Head of Pet Health and Welfare.
“PDSA wants to help turn public affection for pets into positive action by helping them find all the relevant information before making a decision.”
PDSA’s new Get PetWise quiz provides practical information to help people understand if pets are suitable for them and their lifestyle. We would also encourage people to speak to their local vet practice for more advice, or to visit a reputable online resource, such as PDSA’s website, which contains extensive expert information about popular pets and what’s involved in their care.”
Released today, findings from this year’s PAW Report, which surveyed over 33,000 pet owners and veterinary professionals, exposes the alarming reality of how millions of UK pets are living:
- 2.3 million dogs (25% of the UK dog population) are routinely left alone for five hours or more, while advice suggests that four hours should be the maximum time.
- 28% of dog owners believe it’s acceptable to regularly leave a dog home alone on a typical day for SIX to TEN hours.
- 465,000 dogs (5%) are never taken for a walk (on the lead for ten minutes or more)**** despite daily walks and socialisation with other dogs being essential for a dog’s physical and mental health.
- 465,000 dogs (5%) show aggression towards other pets every week.
- 2.6 million cats (24% of the UK cat population) live indoors all the time, which could be causing stress and contributing to feline obesity.
- 4.8 million cats (44%) live in multi-cat households and of these 58% have to share their food and water bowls and 50% their litter tray, which can be source of significant stress for cats.
- 2.8 million cats (26%) have never been vaccinated, leaving them susceptible to fatal diseases.
- Nearly 700,000 rabbits (57% of the UK rabbit population) live alone, potentially causing mental suffering for the highly-social animals.
- 29% of rabbit owners feed rabbit muesli, despite this leading to painful dental disease and poor nutrition.
- 29% of rabbits are provided with less than the recommended amount of hay, which is an amount equivalent to their body size or more every day.
The charity says that by working together with pet owners, the veterinary profession, other animal welfare organisations and the Government, positive change can be achieved and these serious issues can be tackled.
President of the British Veterinary Association, Sean Wensley, said: “For the past five years, the PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report has highlighted where pets’ needs are not being met, what progress has been made, and on what scale. Issues such as social isolation in dogs and rabbits, and obesity in all species, must be understood and addressed if we are to claim that we are treating our companion animals fairly.
“Improving animal welfare is a top priority for BVA and we support our members to help address issues such as those revealed by the PAW Report.”
Thinking about getting a pet? #Pawsfirst and Get PetWise at www.pdsa.org.uk/pawsfirst
*** #PawsFirst includes an innovative new digital quiz which utilises interactive questions to help people ‘Get PetWise’. Designed to throw light on what pets really need during their lifetime – including vital preventive health care which protects them against painful and deadly diseases - it helps people discover the true cost of ownership and understand their chosen pet’s welfare needs first. If they can do this, it then helps them select a species, a breed and encourages them to think about the right place to get their pet from.
****465,000 dogs are never walked out of their home or garden for ten minutes or more on the lead.