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Annual PAW Report: Why Are We Neglecting Our Pets?

11 December 2014

ANALYSIS - The release of the PDSA's annual PAW Report this week made some stark discoveries. Gemma Hyland asks why - as a nation of supposed pet lovers - are we allowing it?

Reading through the stats of this years PAW Report it's clear that, as a nation, we are neglecting - even mistreating - our pets.

A rise in dog aggression, improper exercise and obesity levels are all recorded in the largest ever annual assessment of pet welfare, which has surveyed 21,000 pet owners over the past four years.

Dog Behaviour

History will look back on 2014 as the year that well and truly cemented the phrase 'dangerous dogs', however the facts show that there is an increase in aggressive dog behaviour towards both humans and other dogs.

  • 1.5 million dogs are not properly ‘socialised’ as puppies – which involves exposing them to everyday sights and sounds before 12 weeks of age.
  • 62 per cent of pet owners having been concerned or frightened by another dog’s behaviour
  • 250,000 dogs are showing aggressive behaviour towards people every week and 30 per cent of pet owners reporting they have been bitten or attacked by a dog
  • Over half of veterinary professionals report an increase in levels of dog on dog attacks
  • Over 800,000 dogs never being taken for off the lead walks, and nearly 250,000 never even walked on a lead


80 per cent of vets and vet nurses now predict there will be more overweight pets than healthy pets in five years time.

  • 5.5 million pets still being fed fatty treats, fuelling the pet obesity epidemic
  • Owners over 55 are least likely to seek vet advice regarding their pet’s diet.

Preventative Health

  • Millions of pets still at risk of deadly diseases, such as parvovirus, due to lack of vaccinations and neutering
  • Just 66 per cent of dog owners are aware that microchipping will soon be compulsory in England and Wales

Pet Ownership

  • 5 million pet owners did no research at all before taking on their pet with many largely unaware of the specific needs of their chosen pet
  • 25 per cent of pet owners would consider getting a puppy from a puppy farm where there welfare needs are unlikely to have been properly met
  • 86 per cent of pet owners believe online sales of pets should be regulated

Produced in conjunction with YouGov, the 2014 PAW Report exposes a grave lack of understanding when it comes to meeting some of the most basic of pets’ needs, says PDSA Head of Pet Health and Welfare, Nicola Martin: “We are undoubtedly a nation of animal lovers, with four out of five pet owners stating they feel physically or mentally healthier because of their pet.

“However, our latest findings reveal that anti-social behaviour in dogs continues to rise due to a worrying lack of training, socialisation and exercise. Owners are sadly continuing to feed the wrong types of food with portion sizes out of control.

"Preventative health is also a major concern – the basics such as vaccinations and neutering are often ignored by owners, leaving their pets vulnerable to a wide range of deadly diseases.”

Further Reading

You can view the 2014 PAW Report by clicking here.

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor

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