Half of UK adults own a pet (49%) – but a quarter didn’t do any research at all before choosing them, new research from YouGov in collaboration with leading veterinary charity PDSA shows.

According to the eighth annual PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, a quarter (24%) of pet owners in the UK didn’t do any research at all before taking on their pet, potentially posing risks to the long-term health and welfare of millions of animals. 

The Animal Welfare Acts* identify 5 Welfare Needs: diet, health, behaviour, environment and companionship. The PAW Report reveals that companionship (being housed with or apart from other animals) is the least well-recognised welfare need, identified by just 18% of pet owners. More often, owners wrongly believe human companionship (29%) is among the five welfare needs, ahead of appropriate interaction with a pet’s own species.

A quarter (24%) of dogs, despite being very sociable animals, are generally left alone at home on weekdays for five hours or more – which is longer than the recommended four hour maximum advised by PDSA and other animal welfare organisations. More than half of pet rabbits (54%), who are also a highly social species, live alone without the companionship of another rabbit – despite proof that living a solitary life can seriously impact on their physical and mental health.

In contrast, 43% of cat owners report having more than one cat, despite 19% of cats not getting along with another cat or cats in the household. PDSA advises that, as naturally solitary animals, being placed in an environment with feline company that they haven’t chosen can be very stressful for cats, and steps must be taken in multi-cat households to provide cats with an environment that allows them space away from one another should they choose.

Find out more about the annual PDSA Animal Wellbeing Reports here, or download a copy of the latest report from the PDSA website here

* Animal Welfare Acts refers to Animal Welfare Act 2006 covering England and Wales, the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 and the Welfare of Animals (Northern Ireland) Act 2011.

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