Companion Animal Care in the UK: PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report 2013

Yesterday I ran across the 2013 People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals’ Animal Wellbeing Report. This report looks at the state of pet care in the United Kingdom. PDSA annually surveys companion animal caregivers, children aged 10-16, and veterinary professionals, to measure the well-being of cats, dogs, and rabbits.

The UK’s Animal Welfare Act 2006 spelled out 5 welfare needs of pets. They are: Environment, Diet, Behavior, Companionship and Health. Sadly, this study found that only 38% of those responding knew anything about the welfare act or the 5 welfare needs, down from 45% in 2011. And only 7% of children surveyed knew anything about the law.

Food and water isn’t the only thing a dog needs. We need enrichment outdoors as well!

What else does the study reveal?

Well, 23% of the UK population has a dog, and 64% of those dogs are of pedigree. Also, 23% of the population has a cat, and 3% has a rabbit. Cat owners are not so concerned about pedigree, and there was no information about rabbits.

On the brighter side, 88% of pet owners think the UK is a nation of animal lovers, and 91% said it’s important to regularly monitor pet wellbeing.

Some other interesting statistics:

58% of pups were not taken to training classes when young

80% of respondents said their dog was microchipped

57% of cat households have fewer litter trays than number of cats (do you know why that’s important?)

90% of respondents said their cat is afraid of something

65% of rabbits live alone, which is sad for such a social animal

And the saddest statistic to me: 26% of people take no advice whatsoever before obtaining a pet. Really? None?

36% of respondents, when asked to pick a photo of a healthy cat, chose one that was overweight or obese
36% of respondents, when asked to pick a photo of a healthy cat, chose one that was overweight or obese

Veterinary professionals were asked their greatest concerns for animal welfare. Their answers:

51% were concerned people don’t understand the true cost of pet ownership

33% were concerned people aren’t aware of the 5 welfare needs of pets

33% were concerned that people didn’t do their homework before obtaining a pet

I have to say the Animal Welfare Act was fascinating to learn about. How refreshing to see legislation that spelled out what should be expected for the care of companion animals. Here where I live, the standards for companion animal care are nowhere near as high.

So, UK readers, what do you think about the findings?



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20 thoughts on “Companion Animal Care in the UK: PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report 2013

  1. I would like to know how it works for that 57% with fewer litter trays than cats, I’ve read it can lead to rivalry when they have to use the same box :o( I’ve voted today, good luck, Rumpy!

  2. I think it’s sadly true. I think it won’t be long before we have to admit to no longer being a nation of animal lovers as we don’t seem to really care, not deep down, not when it really matters!!

  3. The number of prosecutions for cruelty to animals shot up during the recent recession and it was hard to think of ourselves as a nation of animal lovers. Luckily the numbers will go down again now.

  4. Very interesting information, Rumpy. The number that 80% of owned dog was microchipped surprised me because in Japan, microchipped pets are not so common….besides, we still don’t know if it’s a good idea or not….

  5. well the Micro chipping is high because of the pet passport so that they can go Europe on holiday with their owners,plus it will soon be a legal requirement to have dogs micro chipped,the satistics about Rabbits is a little on the low side as I know a lot of people who have rabbits for pets but I have to say the most of those don’t really know how to take care of them properly as they usually end up being in a hutch in the garden forgotten about.But I also think that there are a lot of pet owners who either have pets and have no clue to what it means to be a good pet owner or really shouldn’t have pets as they don’t care enough to be responsible pet owners,xx Rachel

  6. Thanks for sharing this Rumpy. 🙂 I don’t think the high % of people not taking their pups to training classes is necessarily a bad thing. I’ve had dogs my entire life and learned how to train them from my mom. If many pet owners have this kind of experience, puppy training class is not always necessary. I also don’t think the % of people who don’t get advice before getting a pet is a bad thing for the same reason. Having dogs my entire life, I know what to expect regarding proper care. And many of the dogs I’ve had in my life just kind of fell into my lap, so to speak. There was no chance to get advice. So I probably would have answered that question as, no I did not seek out advice. I wonder if the 26% would have done the same for the same reason. I agree with BJ pup that statistics can be misleading. Most of these are pretty straightforward but that one question is dependent on the circumstances. It is also left to interpretation as to what is meant by advice. Some people may not consider reading up on a breed as taking advice. Therefore, I believe this one question is probably skewing the facts and I wouldn’t be too down about the results.

    1. And I would agree with both of you, except when there is data collected annually to compare and contrast, and the numbers are so vastly different, that is of definite concern.

      1. Agreed that the changes in statistics is a concern. But the question regarding 26% of people not taking advice before getting a pet is still too subjective. The question doesn’t ask why they are not seeking advice. Are there really more people choosing to be ignorant? Or is it that there are more and more generational pet owners like me, people who come from a family of pet owners and so feel that they already know what they need to know before getting a pet? Maybe it is a little of both. But if the answer is mostly the later, then this increase might be considered a good thing. Also, this 26% is not a 26% increase. Last year it was 23%, which is only a 3% increase and is not vastly different from last year. So that means just 26% of people choose not to seek advice. If most of these people are generational pet owners, then 26% is not bad at all.

        I don’t mean to downplay the statistics. Many of these numbers certainly are concerning. It shows we still have a long way to go in regards to pet care. I’m just looking at this one statistic result and questioning what it really means.

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