UK pet nation heading for animal welfare disaster
Lack of training and socialisation causing behaviour meltdown in 250,000 dogs
…and fat pets are fast becoming the majority with 5.5. million fed fatty treats
Badly behaved and overweight pets are fuelling a pet welfare crisis in Britain, according to the annual PAW Report from vet charity PDSA.
The latest Report reveals some shocking findings with a rise in dog aggression directed both at humans and others pets, and concerns relating to destructive behaviour, both caused by a cocktail of boredom, lack of training and socialisation and worryingly low levels of regular exercise. A quarter of a million dogs are behaving aggressively towards people every week. And dog hostility towards other pets, including attacks, rising annually to over 600,000.
The Report also shows that pet obesity levels are continuing to increase. 80% of vets and vet nurses now predict there will be more overweight pets than healthy pets in five years time, and with 5.5 million pets being fed fatty treats the pet obesity epidemic is set to balloon.
Another staggering finding is that 2.4 million dogs in the UK are not given the opportunity to safely exercise off the lead outside of the home or garden on a daily basis – with over 800,000 of these dogs never going for walks. This can lead to destructive behaviour and anxiety, as well as aggression and is also contributing to the rise in pet obesity.
These statistics are taken from the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report*, the largest ever annual assessment of pet welfare (which has surveyed 21,000 pet owners over the past four years). Produced in conjunction with YouGov, the 2014 PAW Report exposes a grave lack of understanding when it comes to meeting some of the most basic of pets’ needs, says PDSA Head of Pet Health and Welfare, Nicola Martin: “We are undoubtedly a nation of animal lovers, with four out of five pet owners stating they feel physically or mentally healthier because of their pet.
“However, our latest findings reveal that anti-social behaviour in dogs continues to rise due to a worrying lack of training, socialisation and exercise. Owners are sadly continuing to feed the wrong types of food with portion sizes out of control. Preventative health is also a major concern – the basics such as vaccinations and neutering are often ignored by owners, leaving their pets vulnerable to a wide range of deadly diseases.”
In response to these findings and in an effort to gain an even deeper understanding of the health and happiness of UK pets, PDSA is encouraging pet owners to take part in its Big Pet Survey: pdsa.org.uk/bigpetsurvey. The charity aims to build the biggest ever insight into the wellbeing of the pet nation.
Nicola continues: “The more people that take the survey and share their views with us, the more we can identify the most vital and pressing pet welfare issues, and provide the right support and solutions to help make improvements.”
Key findings from the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report:
1.5 million dogs are not properly ‘socialised’ as puppies – which involves exposing them to everyday sights and sounds before 12 weeks of age.
62% of pet owners having been concerned or frightened by another dog’s behaviour
250,000 dogs are showing aggressive behaviour towards people every week and 30% of pet owners reporting they have been bitten or attacked by a dog
Over half of veterinary professionals report an increase in levels of dog on dog attacks
Over 800,000 dogs never being taken for off the lead walks, and nearly 250,000 never even walked on a lead
5.5 million pets still being fed fatty treats, fuelling the pet obesity epidemic
80% of veterinary professionals predict there will be more fat pets than healthy weight pets in five years time
Owners over 55 are least likely to seek vet advice regarding their pet’s diet.
Millions of pets still at risk of deadly diseases, such as parvovirus, due to lack of vaccinations and neutering
Just 66% of dog owners are aware that microchipping will soon be compulsory in England and Wales
5 million pet owners did no research at all before taking on their pet with many largely unaware of the specific needs of their chosen pet
25% of pet owners would consider getting a puppy from a puppy farm where there welfare needs are unlikely to have been properly met
86% of pet owners believe online sales of pets should be regulated
For more information, and to take part in the next PAW Report, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/bigpetsurvey
Photo by swong95765