Millions of pets are being taken on with little or no research into what they need to live healthy and happy lives. And this lack of knowledge can result in stressed, lonely, obese and aggressive pets, according to the UK’s leading vet charity.
Findings from the fifth annual PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report*, the largest, most comprehensive insight into the state of our pet nation, shows millions of pets are still suffering in silence.
Produced by PDSA in conjunction with YouGov, the PAW Report is the biggest-ever annual survey of pet owners and veterinary professionals, uncovering the truth about pet wellbeing in the UK.
A ‘want it now’ consumer culture is evident in pet purchasing with over 4.5 million owners doing no research at all before getting a pet. Familiarity with the Animal Welfare Act has decreased significantly over the last five years, with less than one third (31%) of pet owners stating they are familiar with their responsibility as a pet owner as detailed in this legislation which outlines the basic welfare needs of our pets.
Commenting on the worrying findings, PDSA Head of Pet Health and Welfare, and vet, Nicola Martin, said:
“PDSA’s research shows that as a nation, we’re still in love with the idea of pet ownership with over half of UK households owning a pet and 88% of pet owners believing that owning a pet improves their lives. But impulse acquisitions and busy lifestyles mean some people are totally unprepared for the realities, and the effort, that owning a happy, healthy pet entails.
“Sadly, too many people are continuing to underestimate the financial cost and the importance of choosing the right pet for their lifestyle before taking on a new pet. Ultimately, this is contributing to the suffering of millions of pets.”
Five years on from the inaugural PAW Report, millions of dogs are still being left alone for long periods of time, with owners vastly underestimating the lifetime costs of their pets. In dogs, this can be up to fifty times more than owners expect**.
Alongside this nearly a quarter (22%) of pet owners would still consider getting a dog from a puppy farm; an intensive establishment where dogs are bred in high volumes for profit, with little or no consideration for the health or welfare of puppies or breeding bitches.“This needs to change and we all need to stop and think whether we are providing everything that our pets need to live healthy and happy lives,” added Nicola Martin.
*The total sample size was 31,584 pet owners aged 18+ who live within the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11 December 2014 and 26 March 2015. The survey was carried out online and responses were achieved through a combination of two sources. 5,152 owners of cats, dogs and rabbits were interviewed via YouGov’s online research panel. Additionally, a link to the survey was publicised via PDSA’s contact database, website and social media, to achieve a further 26,432 pet owner responses. The figures have been weighted to be representative of the population by pet species and the owner’s gender, age and geographic region. All figures reported in this press release are from the survey of 5,152 owners interviewed via YouGov’s online research panel.
The survey was carried out face-to face to a sample of 1,127 veterinary professionals, including vets, vet nurses, veterinary care assistants, and vet and veterinary nursing students. Figures are not weighted. In addition, a survey was carried out online through an open link. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18 September and 10 October 2014. Total sample size was 572 veterinary professionals. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.
**12% of pet owners believe their pet will cost them no more than £500 over their entire life. The actual lifetime costs of pets are: Dogs - £16-£31,000