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Britain’s Dogs Suffering Mental Health Crisis

New research shows 1 in 10 dogs currently suffer with a form of mental health condition, meaning 945,000 dogs could be suffering nationwide

Depression, anxiety and panic attacks all named as mental health conditions that affect dogs in the UK

British dog owners admit to taking four days off work in the last year in order to care for their mentally-ill dog, resulting in employers losing 31.5 MILLION working days a year 

Being left alone too much named as key trigger, as Rover launches Dog-friendly Pub Awards to ensure sociable owners and pups have suitable hang-outs

Almost one MILLION dogs in the UK could be suffering from mental health issues, according to research released today by Rover.com, a leading network of dog sitters and walkers. 

While much has been done to raise awareness of mental health in humans, the study reveals that 945,000 dogs are currently suffering with a form of mental health problem, but almost half (48%) of Brits don’t believe that dogs can suffer with mental health issues. This suggests a lack of awareness across the country – with 42% thinking this is something that only affects humans.

Dog behaviourist and trainer, Louise Glazebrook says: “Mental health issues in dogs is a very real problem, with dogs across Britain suffering from a range of disorders – most commonly depression and anxiety. This really affects how a dog thinks, feels and responds. Yet this research by Rover shows that one in five Brits (20%) think dogs are simply acting up for attention. When dogs have gone through trauma, have changes taking place or are struggling to find balance it will affect their mental health, which in turn will affect their behaviour. It is always important for an owner to understand the cause rather than simply believing that they are being naughty.”

With British dog owners admitting to taking an average of four days off work in the last year due to their dog’s mental health issues, resulting in employers losing 31.5 MILLION working days a year, Louise Glazebrook has shared the top triggers for mental health issues that pet parents need to be aware of.

“My number one tip is keeping a consistent routine,” Glazebrook continues. “Dogs thrive on predictability, it allows them to be relaxed and calm because they can understand what will follow on and come after. Dogs are social animals, they love company – not leaving them alone for too long or too often is really important, certainly not more than 4 hours at a time. It’s really important to make time for your dog each day, doing things that they love and enjoy. Look for dog-friendly establishments that specifically cater for our four-legged friends.”

The news comes as the 2019 Rover Dog-friendly Pub Awards is launched with the purpose of providing owners with celebrated hang outs they can visit with their dogs, in order to avoid having to leave them home alone – named as a top trigger for mental health issues by experts and owners alike.

Having to leave their dogs at home is a real concern among British owners. Nearly two thirds (65%) said they feel guilty leaving their canine companion behind when they go out, yet 16% admitted leaving their dogs alone for up to seven hours at a time – far exceeding the RSPCA guidance of four hours maximum. 

Top triggers for mental health issues in dogs, as identified by their owners:

1.    Being left alone too much (69%)

2.    Abuse from former owners (68%)

3.  Loss of companion: human or animal (63%)

4.    Loud noises (62%)

5.    Lack of exercise (56%)

6.    Change in routine (45%)

7.    Tone of voice (38%)

8.    Not being taken out places with their owners (35%)

9.    Not being petted enough (30%)

10.  Not going on their favourite walk (16%)

With nearly half (48%) of Brits stating that their dog is their best friend, and over a third (37%) even saying that they care more about their dog than their family members, Louise Glazebrook shares her advice on what to do if our beloved pets are displaying symptoms of mental health issues:

“The first step is understanding what motivates your dog, and what they enjoy doing – then ensuring they have plenty of access to the things that make them happy,” Glazebrook says. “This really depends on the breed, personality and age of the dog, but can be anything from playing games together that build their confidence, going out on walks to ensure they have a physical outlet, keeping them mentally stimulated by allowing them to sniff and chew, and simply spending time together. Socialising your dog and ensuring it spends time with other humans and animals is great for canine mental health.”

Rover is therefore calling for pubs to help stop pups being left alone at home. Rover’s research found that a quarter of the nation’s owners said they’d go to a dog-friendly pub if they knew of one but 44% said they struggle to find a good option locally. Rover’s Dog-friendly Pub Awards intends to change that.

Simon Le Grice, spokesperson for Rover, said: “It is a great shame that pubs still ban dogs, and a missed opportunity for publicans – there’s nothing dog-owning Brits love more than a long walk with their furry friend, followed by a pit-stop at the pub. In an ideal world, we’d love for every pub in the UK to be dog-friendly. The Rover Dog-friendly Pub Awards celebrates pubs across the UK that welcome our canine companions and give them a happy and safe environment to hang out. We know that 40% of people say they wish they could spend more time with their dogs but struggle, so we’d love to see that change.”

Public voting closes on Wednesday 6th November 2019. Winners will be announced Wednesday 20th November 2019.  The public can nominate and vote for their favourite dog-friendly pub by visiting www.pubs.rover.com.