Help pets avoid a Blue Monday
As the post-festive buzz wears off, the cold weather and short, dark days can leave many of us feeling depressed.
However, our four legged friends face more than just the ‘January Blues’, with millions of UK pets suffering from a lifetime of loneliness, stress, preventable illnesses and obesity, due to lack of understanding of their basic needs.
Findings from our latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report reveal that many owners are failing to meet their pets’ welfare needs. The study found a shocking 1.9 million dogs (19%) are left alone for longer than the maximum recommended four hours on a typical weekday. Meanwhile, 1.3 million dogs (13%) don’t get walked on a daily basis.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Exercise is so incredibly important to dogs. Not getting enough exercise can cause health problems, such as obesity, but can also lead to long-term behavioural problems. Bored dogs are really unhappy dogs – they can show their frustration by chewing, barking, toileting in the house, being destructive and over-grooming themselves (licking too much). As our busy routines resume after the festive break, we know that millions of dogs will be left for longer than four hours, leaving them mentally unstimulated and bored.
“Dogs need daily outdoor exercise to ensure good physical and mental health. Worryingly, our Report found that 99,000 dogs (1%) are never walked! Lack of exercise is a major contributing factor to the national canine obesity problem, along with too much food or the diet. Fun, fresh air, running and jumping can’t be underestimated, it’s utopia for our pets and probably many of us could take a leaf out of their book too!”
Cats have an equally ‘blue’ time ahead, with the PAW Report revealing that 4.7 million (43%) live in a house with more than one cat, 2 million of these (18%) are living with other cats they don’t get along with.
Nina added: “Cats are naturally solitary creatures and tend to prefer to live apart from other felines, as their territory is very important to them. Living closely with a cat or cats they don’t get along with can cause a lot of stress, which can affect their health. Each cat in the household should be given their own food and water bowls, toys, beds, scratching posts and litter trays, plus one extra. Spread these around the house so each cat has their own space.
“Cats need exercise too, if they’re indoor cats make sure they have the opportunity to see the outside world, some people have a ‘catio’, so they can have some access to the outside. But if not, provide them with plenty of toys, hiding places and high shelves so they can view their surroundings with confidence.”
Research from PDSA also reveals that millions of our much-loved pets are being exposed to potentially fatal diseases due to a plunge in vaccination levels. The number of UK owners reporting that their pet has received primary vaccinations when young has dropped by 18% in just three years.
“By getting their pets vaccinated, owners can avoid subjecting their pets to further misery in the shape of deadly diseases such as parvovirus, distemper and cat flu. Sadly, many of these diseases can be fatal if they are left unvaccinated. Affected pets that are fortunate to recover could be left with long-term health problems which means they have to struggle through a lot of pain, discomfort and treatments. In turn resulting in feelings of guilt, worry and concern for owners, as well as leaving them with some costly vet bills.”
If you’re worried your pet might be feeling blue, free pet health advice can also be found on our website: www.pdsa.org.uk/blue-monday. For advice on keeping your pet happy and health, book an appointment with your vet or vet nurse.