Leading veterinary charity, PDSA is warning that the continuing trend of owners doing no pre-purchase research before acquiring a pet is risking the long-term health of millions of animals.
The warning comes as the eighth annual PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report is published, which has surveyed over 68,000 veterinary professional, pet owners and young people since its launch in 2011.
The 2018 report reveals that 5.2 million UK pet owners undertook no research at all before taking on their pet, showing no improvement since 2016.
Similarly, just 5% of owners (one in twenty or 1.1 million) took advice from a veterinary professional ahead of their purchase, despite 71% of practices offering pre-purchase advice as part of routing consultations.
The report also shows a correlation between owners feeling uninformed about the five welfare needs, with 24% feeling very informed and only 13% of owners were able to identify all five needs from a choice of descriptions.
Owners who didn’t feel informed of all the five welfare needs were most likely to do no research (28%) than owners who did (23%).
Commenting on the PAW report findings, PDSA Senior Vet Rebecca Ashman, said: “This year’s PAW Report highlights that impulse buying of pets with varying knowledge of their long-term needs, is a continuing trend that unfortunately showing no signs of improving. Lack of pre-purchase research leaves owners ill prepared for pet ownership. Sadly this is inadvertently leading to pet’s five welfare needs not being properly met and by extension is causing an array of welfare issues from behaviour problems and chronic stress to inappropriate housing and obesity for the UK’s dogs, cats and rabbits.”
The report also highlights another major concern, which is purchasing pets from inappropriate sources, which found that 3.4 million owners (16%) would consider getting a puppy from a puppy far and 4.3 million (21%) from a seller who approached them.
Worryingly, after choosing their pet, the Report shows that 17% of dog owners, 39% of cat owners and 46% of rabbit owners, did nothing before bringing their pet home – such as seeing their parents, visiting them on more than one occasion, or undergoing home visits.
Rebecca adds: “With so many owners seemingly will to get a pet from a potentially unsuitable source, it can be difficult for them to know their pet’s true future welfare and often without screening health checks or accurate advice from the seller.
“The best chance, we as a profession, have of helping people understand where to responsibly source a pet from, the lifetime costs of pet ownership and the five welfare needs of pets is to engage with prospective owners before they take on their new pet. This way they will be empowered to make informed choices and be equipped with the knowledge to ensure a lifetime of wellbeing for their new pet.”
To download a free copy of the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report visit: www.pdsa.org.uk