Forget Blue Monday – millions of pets face a Blue Year unless their owners take steps to end their stress, obesity and loneliness, according to leading pet wellbeing charity PDSA.
The warning comes on Monday 15 January – dubbed ‘Blue Monday’ – where short, dark days, empty pockets and dwindling New Year’s resolutions all add up to create the most melancholic day of the year. But PDSA is urging pet owners to spare a thought for the pets who face another year of loneliness and boredom going far beyond the joyless ’January blues’.
According to the 2017 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, 1.8 million (19%) are routinely left at home alone for five hours or more on a typical weekday, leaving them facing another solitary year with little company.
Katy Orton, PDSA Veterinary Campaigns Manager, says: “Loneliness can be incredibly damaging for our four-legged friends. Dogs require lots of mental and physical stimulation, as well as human companionship, and shouldn’t routinely be left alone for longer than four hours at most. Bored dogs are unhappy dogs – they can show their frustration by chewing and being destructive, barking, toileting in the house, or developing other habits.
“Our 2017 PAW Report also revealed the shocking news that 93,000 dogs* are never walked, leaving thousands unstimulated and at risk of becoming overweight or developing obesity. This can predispose them to serious health problems such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. Given an estimated 40% of UK cats and dogs are thought to be overweight**, this is only adding fuel to the fire of a growing pet obesity epidemic.”
Rabbits are also suffering in silence throughout the year, as PDSA warns of a general lack of understanding about what they need to be happy and healthy. Bunnies are incredibly social animals who require compatible cotton-tailed companions, but over half (56%) are still living alone, causing lifelong boredom and stress.
Many rabbits also live in small hutches at the bottom of a garden, rather than the large hutches with constant access to large exercise areas, toys, and places to hide and explore.
Furthermore, many are fed incorrect diets, with 31% of rabbits being fed too little hay (i.e. less than their own body size daily) and a quarter being fed muesli as part of their main diet, which leads to digestive problems, dental issues, and obesity. Rabbits’ diets should be fibre-rich with plenty of high quality feeding hay and small amounts of pelleted foods and fresh greens.
PDSA research also found that cats have a reason to be down in the dumps too, with 2.1 million cats (20%) living in a house with one or more moggies that they don’t get along with.
“Unlike dogs and rabbits, cats usually tend to prefer living alone”, Katy adds. “Living in a multi-cat household can lead to stress, fighting, spraying indoors, over-grooming and urinary problems. If you have multiple cats living under the same roof, it’s important each cat has their own resources and there should always be one more litter tray available than the number of cats in the household. Make sure there are plenty of cat beds, hiding places, scratching posts and feeding areas as they may not want to share! These should also be dotted around the house so they can have their own space if they want it, and should help them to be much happier and friendlier felines.”
If you are concerned about your pet, or need pet advice on keeping your pet happy and healthy, book an appointment to see your vet. Free pet health tips can also be found on PDSA’s website: www.pdsa.org.uk.