A new study has revealed that two thirds of UK pet owners would break up with a long-term partner if they asked them to get rid of their dog.
Research into the habits of 1,000 dog owners by Everypaw pet healthcare examines the bond between owners and their pets, and finds owners would end a long-term relationship if their partner wanted to get rid of their dog.
According to the study, there’s no physical room for a significant other with over a quarter (28%) letting their pet share their bed every night, and 22% admit their dog is the boss of the household.
Rule breaking is a regular theme, with owners stating they regularly support boisterous behaviour without punishment such as being on the sofa (85%), sleeping in bed (51%) and licking owner’s faces (29%).
Everypaw vet Dr Anna Foreman, said: “There’s a lot of conflicting opinions about letting your dog sleep in your bed with you. The only real issues are hygiene and potential injuries – if dogs have fleas they can bit humans, and there is a chance that they could fall off the bed at night – but it’s down to personal choice.
“Although face licking is generally fine for healthy humans, if people are immunocompromised – if they’re older or very young for example – then there is a risk to health.”
The study highlights a definite trend in owner loyalty with the majority (90%) are unable to forgo their furry friends for a lifestyle change, such as moving house or migrating.
Despite their devotion, pet owners admit that they were a little in the dark before bringing home their dog, with nearly one in four (24%) citing they did no research before choosing the breed, and a third (33%) admitting they could have known more about their behaviour and needs.
Looking at how dog owners spoil their canines, the study highlights food is used to show affection, with nearly half admitting they give their dog human food one to two times a week, and over a quarter (27% let their dogs indulge in cheese and dairy.
Vet Anna added: “Most human foods should be avoided as they can be high in salt, fats and very calorific – feeding your dog a can of tuna, for example, is equivalent to a person eating three doughnuts. It’s especially dangerous to feed dogs dairy products because, as well as being high in calories, dogs do not have the enzyme needed to break down these foods, leading to upset stomachs.”
The study also looks at health and fitness of dogs, to draw some conclusions as to what pet owners could be doing better and identifies diet and exercise as areas in need of improvement.
As part of the research, Everypaw recruited three unfit dogs to partake in the Get Fido Fit Challenge, in which they were given a strict diet and exercise plans for six weeks, based on the expert advice of Everypaw Vets.
They were given a PitPat tracker to track their progress, and with a few lifestyle changes, every dog lost weight and became more active.
Rachel Mulheron, Director of Pet Insurance at Everypaw, said: “The health and wellbeing of pets is our passion and we wanted to explore the relationship between dog owners and their pooches. It’s great to see how much people love their dogs, but the research suggests some aren’t giving their dogs the right exercise and diet.
“Dog obesity is a definite problem in the UK, and it’s important owners know how to take care of their pups for a long and fulfilled life. Our Get Fido Fit Challenge shows it’s possible to make a huge difference to your dog’s health in a relatively short space of time, with just a few small changes.”