Some 5.2 million pet owners in the UK (one in four) purchased a pet without doing any prior research, a recent study has found.
As well as this, only five percent of potential pet owners seek advice from vets before deciding to purchase a small companion.
PDSA’s Animal Wellbeing Report 2018 in partnership with YouGov also showed that less pet owners in the UK are familiar with the Animal Welfare Acts than they were last year, with 38 percent of respondents saying they were aware of them compared to 39 percent in 2017.
Some 74 percent of respondents said they felt well informed of the Five Welfare Needs of pets, however only 13 percent correctly identified them all.
Furthermore, companionship seemed to be the least well recognised welfare need, with only 18 percent of pet owners identifying ‘to be housed with, or apart, from other animals’ as a requirement.
Some 49 percent of UK adults own a pet while 25 percent have a cat, equivalent to 11.1 million felines, 24 percent of the population own a dog, amounting to 8.9 million pooches. There are one million pet rabbits in the UK, which accounts for two percent of the population.
A large number of pet owners significantly underestimated the cost of keeping a pet, with 69 percent of owners misjudging the monthly cost of owning a dog compared with 88 percent and 77 percent for cat and rabbit owners respectively.
Richard Hooker BVMS (Hons), MRCVS PDSA director of veterinary services, said: “By continuing to build bonds with clients that last a lifetime, and using their trust and expertise to speak out with authority about pet wellbeing issues, vets and vet nurses will maintain and enhance their roles as animal welfare leaders.
“This will help to ensure they are the first point of contact for any pet-related queries, whether from current or prospective owners. We want pet owners to view the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions as the source to turn to whenever they need guidance.
He added: “Addressing the multiple factors behind the persisting shortfalls in pet wellbeing will never be an easy task, but it’s a challenge that we are committed to in continuing our mission to provide a lifetime of wellbeing for every pet.”