Many pet owners are failing to meet their pets’ welfare needs, according to the latest research from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).
The charity warned that “millions” of UK pets could suffer from a “lifetime of loneliness, stress, preventable illnesses and obesity” due to lack of understanding of basic pet needs.
Findings from its latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report found that 1.9 million dogs are left alone for longer than the maximum recommended four hours on a typical weekday, while 1.3 million dogs don’t get walked on a daily basis.
PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing said: “Exercise is so incredibly important to dogs. Not getting enough exercise can cause health problems, such as obesity, but can also lead to long-term behavioural problems.
“Bored dogs are really unhappy dogs. They can show their frustration by chewing, barking, toileting in the house, being destructive and over-grooming themselves.”
She added: “As our busy routines resume after the festive break, we know that millions of dogs will be left for longer than four hours, leaving them mentally unstimulated and bored.
“Dogs need daily outdoor exercise to ensure good physical and mental health. Worryingly, our Report found that 99,000 dogs (1%) are never walked! Lack of exercise is a major contributing factor to the national canine obesity problem, along with too much food or the diet.”
PDSA research also revealed that “millions” of pets are being exposed to potentially fatal diseases due to a “plunge” in vaccination levels. The number of UK owners who reported their pets received vaccinations has dropped by 18% in three years.
Downing said: “By getting their pets vaccinated, owners can avoid subjecting their pets to further misery in the shape of deadly diseases such as parvovirus, distemper and cat flu. Sadly, many of these diseases can be fatal if they are left unvaccinated.
“Affected pets that are fortunate to recover could be left with long-term health problems which means they have to struggle through a lot of pain, discomfort and treatments.”