Across the country, there are 12 million cats, 12 million dogs, as well as 3.2 million small mammals such as guinea pigs and hamsters.
This represents around 17 million households being currently responsible for at least one pet’s welfare.
Nicole Paley, PFMA’s deputy CEO, said: “Our research confirms the belief that many more people are benefitting from pet ownership and we are reassured by the mental health findings.
“However, it is clear that we need to consider the welfare of these new pets. As our survey highlights, introducing a pet to a household in Covid times can have repercussions or create some unexpected difficulties.”
She added: “We also looked in more detail at the future concerns of new pet owners. Perhaps worryingly, although just 15% have a pet-friendly office environment, only 10% were concerned about returning to work and spending less time with their pet.
“This figure rises among younger generations with 15% of 16-34 year olds concerned about spending less time with their pet in the future.”
Dr. Samantha Gaines, an RSPCA pet welfare expert said: “As these figures demonstrate, a huge number of people have added a new pet to their family during lockdown while other pet owners have made the most of spending more time at home during the pandemic to enjoy the company of their pets.
“Many of our pets are now used to having us around all the time while others have never known any different so we have real concerns that life post-lockdown, both in terms of a new routine and spending time alone, could be really difficult for them to adjust to which is why it’s so important that owners start to prepare them now.”
She added: “In the absence of this preparation, pets could be facing their own crisis.”