Pet ownership challenges emerging post-pandemic

pandemic dog walk

More than a third (36%) of pet owners in the UK are new owners, with no prior experience of owning that species of a pet as an adult, according to vet charity PDSA’s latest annual research.

This follows the boom in demand for pets during the pandemic as people spent more time at home, the 2022 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report said.

The report analyses the impact of two turbulent years on the UK’s pets.

Compared with experienced owners, first-time owners were more likely to purchase from a private seller or breeder than a rescue centre — and in fact, the proportion of animals acquired from rehoming centres has dropped over the past two years.


Meanwhile, there has been an increase in the import of pets from abroad and PDSA expressed concern over this trend, particularly in cases where owners are looking for a pet who has undergone cosmetic procedures that are illegal in the UK, such as ear cropping, tail docking or de-clawing. For example, the proportion of imported dogs has risen from 4% in 2020 to 6% in 2022 and of these, almost 4% (equating to 26,000 dogs) were imported for their cropped ears.

With daily routines getting back to normal, the amount of time that dogs spend with their owners is returning to pre-pandemic levels. This has proved particularly unsettling for younger dogs, many of whom are showing separation-related behaviours as they struggle to adjust to longer periods of time away from their owners.

The report also highlighted concerns about behavioural problems, potentially due to a lack of socialisation opportunities when young, with 1.6 million dogs (16%) showing signs of fear, growling or biting, and 1.3 million (13%) displaying these behaviours towards unfamiliar dogs.

Lastly, as the cost of living crisis starts to bite, the report found that just under a third of all dog (29%) and cat (31%) owners are worried about paying for unexpected vet bills if their pet falls ill or gets injured.

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