Many U.K. Pets ‘Badly Neglected,’ Survey Finds



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The United Kingdom has an estimated 7.8 million dogs and 9.5 million cats.

Pets raised in the United Kingdom tend to be "ill, lonely, aggressive, stressed and obese,” according to a new report from the veterinary charity The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.

The third annual survey of pet owners living in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland found that millions of U.K. pets "are still being badly neglected,” the organization stated.

Among the discoveries:

• 53 percent of dogs eat table scraps as treats.
• 58 percent of dogs do not get obedience training by 6 months old.
• 25 percent of dogs are regularly left alone for five hours or more, leading to "serious and worrying behavior problems” such as excessive barking and destructive actions.
• 95 percent of cat owners do not consider the animal’s body shape and weight when deciding how much to feed.
• 2.3 million cats are not vaccinated against feline influenza or feline leukemia virus.
• 65 percent of rabbits do not have a companion despite being a highly social species.
• 18 percent of rabbits do not get daily exercise.

Commenting on the Animal Wellbeing Report, the British Veterinary Association praised the charity for documenting that pet owners can do much more to improve the health and welfare of cats, dogs and rabbits.

"The [report] provides us with fantastic insight into people’s awareness of their pets’ needs and helps us as veterinary surgeons to understand the motivations behind our clients’ actions,” said BVA President Robin Hargreaves, MRCVS. "This is particularly useful at a time when we are increasingly trying to base our advice to clients on an evidence base.”

The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals also revealed that 8.3 million pet-owning households were not familiar with what the group called the five keys to pet health and happiness: a suitable place to live, a good diet, the ability to display normal behavior, appropriate companionship, and protection from pain, suffering and disease.

"It is clear from this year’s report findings that many U.K. pets are missing out on these, not because owners don’t care, but because there is a broad misunderstanding out there about what pet well-being really means,” said Nicola Martin, the group’s head of pet health and welfare.

Accompanying the report was news that The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, which assists low-income pet owners with their ill and injured animals, had released the PDSA Big Pet Check. The website, ABetterLifeForPets.org.uk, teaches people about pets’ basic needs and offers advice on how to improve a pet’s well-being.

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