The UK’s growing litter problem is significantly impacting the way dog owners conduct their walks with over a quarter of owners (26%) fearful that their dog will die whilst out on their daily walk.
A third (32%) of owners worry that their dog will come to serious harm, whilst 29% admit to changing their routes to avoid litter and a further 29% refusing to take their dog off their lead in certain areas.
The new study by Agria Pet Insurance, which surveyed a diverse group of dog owners across the UK, delves into the concerns of dog owners regarding the UK’s litter problem and its effects on their dogs. The respondents expressed several worries, including ingestion resulting in internal organ damage (54%), cuts and wounds (43%), ingestion resulting in choking (42%) and intoxication resulting from exposure to dangerous substances (37%).
The study also identified the types of litter that owners fear the most in terms of posing a significant threat to both dogs and the environment.
- Sharp objects such as glass (68%)
- Discarded food items, such as meat bones (38%)
- Drug paraphernalia, such as syringes (35%)
- Plastic waste (34%)
- Vapes (31%)
Respondents most frequently noticed litter on the street (52%), in parks/recreational grounds (44%) and in woodland areas (44%).
The results of this research highlight the urgency of adopting sustainable practices to combat the litter problem in areas frequented by dog walkers to create safer and more enjoyable environments for dogs and their owners. This includes increased public awareness, responsible disposal of litter, and improved waste management systems.
To further awareness of this prominent issue, Agria has partnered with Paws On Plastic, a UK charity (no. SCO51306) dedicated to environmental stewardship, bringing invaluable expertise and a proven track record in fostering positive change.
Paws on Plastic encourages dog owners to pick up a couple of pieces of litter on walks to protect animals, communities and the environment. It also educates on the consequences of littering.
Furthermore, the collaboration extends to the involvement of internationally recognised animal rights activist and model, Jodie Kidd. Jodie’s passion for the cause and her influential reach serves as catalysts for broader awareness and engagement. Her commitment to the initiative underscores the urgency of the issue and appeals to diverse audiences.
Janet Hughes, UK Sustainability Lead at Agria Pet Insurance, said: “These findings underline the importance of addressing the litter issue. They also serve as a vital call to local authorities, communities, and dog owners to come together and work towards a more sustainable and litter-free future for the UK’s beloved dogs.
“It is crucial that we collectively take immediate action to tackle the litter problem in our outdoor spaces. The safety and well-being of dogs, as well as the environment, are at stake. By raising awareness and encouraging responsible behaviour, we can create a cleaner and safer environment for all. We’re hoping that as many people as possible – whether dog owners or not – join us to play our part in making a difference to our environment – every small effort helps and collectively we can have a big impact.”
Marion Montgomery, Founder and Chair at Paws on Plastic, said: “Our charity is delighted to partner with Agria Pet Insurance on this wonderful campaign. So many animals, including our precious dogs, are injured by litter dropped carelessly on the ground. As dog owners, we have the opportunity to take a simple action to protect animals when we’re out walking anyway. It only takes a second for us to pick up a couple of pieces of litter and with 12 million of us in the UK, out a couple of times a day, it really does add up – actually reducing the amount of litter dropped, as studies show that fewer people drop litter when areas are clean. Another benefit is that it actually feels great in terms of mental health and positivity to take a simple action which has an immediate and visible difference. We encourage all dog owners to get involved – we’d love to see your photos! Sign up on our website, follow us on social media and get involved today – our 5th birthday.”
Find out more about how Agria, the UK’s only carbon positive pet insurer, is caring for the world we share with our pets, at agriapet.co.uk/environment-sustainability