April 2019: Vet Blog
A nation of pet lovers
This April thousands of people and organisations will be celebrating life with pets as The National Pet Month charity brings together professional bodies, pet businesses, schools, welfare charities and pet lovers. Pet ownership has risen and there are an estimated 8.9 million pet dogs and 11.1 million pet cats in the UK. According to the 2018 PAW report (PDSA) nearly half the UK population (49%) own a pet.
So why are we such a pet loving nation?
Well, there are so many benefits to pet ownership: there are the physical and social benefits of owning a dog. Taking your dog for daily walks to socialise, play and exercise encourages people to go outside and gives opportunities to meet other people with common interests. Some people have even found their future partner whilst on a dog walk. There’s no doubt that walking your dog can improve fitness and mental wellbeing.
Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year (according to mental health charity Mind) and pets make great therapists. The calming purr of a cat curled on your lap, the calmness of watching fish swim and the companionship of a dog by your side help you feel less lonely. Pets certainly offer a source of comfort and unconditional love.
Creatures great and small can teach, delight and offer a special human–animal bond. The right pet is great for children too - helping a child learn social and emotional skills and giving them a sense of fulfilment by caring for a pet and learning about it. A well socialised pet who is calm and relaxed with children can help a child if they feel sad, angry or afraid.
Pet therapy is widely used in the UK with pets visiting hospitals, nursing homes and schools. These pet visits are proven to lift mood, lower stress and anxiety and even blood pressure. Let’s not forget the dogs that help people with physical disabilities: those that lead the blind, those that can detect and alert potential health complications such as diabetic low blood sugar and epileptic seizures… aren’t they just amazing!?
Because our pets do so much for us, what can we do to give something back to them?
Well, as part of National Pet Month, Avenue Vets are promoting responsible pet ownership and here are our top tips on acquiring a pet:
Before you get a pet –
• Select a pet that is suitable for your home and lifestyle. Research well and don’t make hasty decisions.
• Can you commit to the lifelong care of your pet’s entire life? (Approximate lifespans: dog - 10-13 years, cat - 13-18 years, rabbit – 8-12 years, tortoise - 50 years plus and African grey parrot- 60 years!)
• Owning a pet requires an investment of time and money. Can you give your pet enough of your time and ensure it is trained and sociable?
• Can you provide nutritious food according to its age and species?
• Can you provide suitable housing or bedding?
• Can you clean up after your pet?
• Can you prevent against diseases with preventative healthcare such as vaccination and parasite control? Can you prevent unwanted litters and afford to have your pet neutered?
• Can you afford emergency veterinary care or take out insurance including third party liability?
• Can you keep your pet under control and abide by laws relating to them being properly identified and keep microchip and tag details up to date with the relevant databases?
• Make sure you know about The Animal Welfare Acts* and the five welfare needs that each pet needs to be healthy and happy.
*The Animal Welfare Acts mean that all pet owners have a duty of care to meet the welfare needs of their pets and ensure their pets are both physically and mentally healthy and happy. The five welfare needs are; Environment – give them a safe, suitable place to live. Diet – feed them the right type and amount of food. Behaviour – allow them to show normal behaviour patterns. Companionship – some pets like to live alone whilst others need the company of other pets. Health – keep your pets in good health and seek vet advice if they’re ill or injured
• Finally, think carefully about where to get your pet from. If buying a puppy make sure you see the puppy at its home with its mother and avoid puppy farms. Consider a registered rescue centre and adopt a stray or abandoned pet.
Avenue Vets know how much you love your pets so we provide the Avenue Healthcare Club. Being a member means the costs of your pet’s preventative healthcare can be spread over a monthly payment plan saving you up to 24% per year. What a great way to show them you love them back? Please ask for details to sign up. To celebrate our pets and the delights they bring please visit Avenue Vets’ facebook page, upload your favourite photo of your pet during April’s National Pet Month and tell us why your pet is so special. A winner will be selected on May 1st. Good luck!
To all your furry, feathery, fluffy or scaly friends we wish you a great National Pet Month!
Alex Brown RVN
Avenue Veterinary Centre