By Tara Rippin • 25 March 2021 • 11:02
3.2M households in the UK acquired a ‘lockdown pet’.
THE Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) has released its annual pet population data confirming that 3.2 million households in the UK have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic.
Two thirds (59 per cent) of new owners are aged 16-34 and 56 per cent of new pet owners have children at home.
Although 74 per cent claim their pet has helped their mental health through the pandemic, the study raises pet welfare concerns.
There are now 34 million pets in the UK including 12 million cats and 12 million dogs, 3.2 million small mammals such as guinea pigs and hamsters, three million birds and 1.5 million reptiles.
There are also five million aquaria.
This equates to 17 million households responsible for a pet’s welfare.
Notably, over a third (38 per cent) of new owners claimed that having a new pet was like having a new baby and almost a fifth (17 per cent) of families with children admitted that training was more challenging than expected.
Sadly, 5 per cent have already had to give up a pet and this figure increased to 11 per cent among families.
Nicole Paley, PFMA deputy CEO, said: “Our research confirms the belief that many more people are benefiting from pet ownership and we are reassured by the mental health findings.
“However, it is clear that we need to consider the welfare of these new pets. As our survey highlights, introducing a pet to a household in Covid times can have repercussions or create some unexpected difficulties.
“We must work together with the pet care sector to ensure the 3.2 million households with new pets get the support they need. This is in terms of access to educational material, training and adequate flexible working from home or pets in the office policies.”
RSPCA pet welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines, added: “As these figures demonstrate, a huge number of people have added a new pet to their family during lockdown while other pet owners have made the most of spending more time at home during the pandemic to enjoy the company of their pets.
“Many of our pets are now used to having us around all the time while others have never known any different, so we have real concerns that life post-lockdown, both in terms of a new routine and spending time alone, could be really difficult for them to adjust to which is why it’s so important that owners start to prepare them now. In the absence of this preparation, pets could be facing their own crisis.”
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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