A survey by the PDSA charity indicates that a sizeable proportion of dog owners in Britain are uncommitted to the task of adequately caring for their dog and therefore could, I argue, consider adopting a cat instead because, as we know, cats are less demanding and one of the major areas where dog owners let their dogs down is in failing to exercise them adequately by taking them for a long walk.
The PDSA say that a lack of training and socialisation in combination with low levels of regular exercise has resulted in 250,000 dogs in the UK experiencing what they describe as “behavioural meltdown”. Too many domestic dogs are bored. Can the same be said about many cats?
The behavioural problems of these dogs has resulted in, amongst other things, people being attacked by a dog resulting in a NHS bill of £3,000,000 each year.
There are an estimated 8.1 million dogs in Britain of which 2.4 million are not allowed to exercise off the lead on a regular basis. A quarter of a million aren’t even taken out for a walk, apparently. Of the dogs that are walked, about 80% are taken out for less than an hour which leaves 16% of dogs that are exercised properly.
The PDSA charity describes this as a “welfare disaster” and a rising number of dogs are being euthanised because of their behaviour. More than a quarter of million dogs behave aggressively towards people weekly, while 600,000 start fights with others per week.
It may surprise some people that according to a YouGov poll, over 90% of veterinarians said that they had been frightened by a dog’s behaviour during their work. Over 80% believed that licences should be introduced and over 20% said it was unacceptable for children to be left alone with dogs.
Within 5 years, vets predict that there will be more overweight pets in the UK than healthy ones. Dogs are being fed too many fatty treats such as chips and crisps.
In addition to the above, a sizeable number of dog owners in Britain fail to vaccinate or neuter their dogs. And finally, the cost of properly caring for a dog has an impact on caretaking. Many people miscalculate how much it will cost. In the UK, it is estimated that over a lifetime a dog will cost between £16,000 and £31,000, whereas a cat costs about £17,000.
I’m sure it has been said before, and it has certainly been said by me, that the most important aspect of adopting a cat or dog is before you adopt, the time when you work out whether you are truly committed to caring for a companion animal for the lifetime of the animal and whether you can afford to do it properly. It can be expensive, especially in the UK and even more so in London.
The fact of the matter is that one of the great advantages of caring for a domestic cat is that there is no great demand upon the caretaker to exercise their cat. This takes out of the equation one of the major failings as mentioned above in dog caretaking. That said, cats do need exercise and playing with them is the best way to achieve this while also fostering a close bond.
It could be said that whereas dog owners sometimes fail to exercise their dog enough, cat owners sometimes have misplaced perceptions about the independence of a domestic cat. They perhaps overrate the cat’s independence and ignore their cat too much. This can lead to a lack of welfare as well because signs of illness can be missed and a cat owner can become careless if they let their cat wander too much in areas which are not absolutely safe.
It is rather sad to report this significant failure in dog welfare because Britain is described as a “nation of animal lovers”, but the PDSA believe that, as mentioned, the country is heading towards the welfare disaster in respect of companion dogs.
Primary source: Times newspaper