It’s been revealed that the nations pets are facing more than just the January blues, as millions are reported to be suffering from a lifetime of loneliness, stress, preventable illnesses and obesity, due to lack of understanding of their basic needs.

Findings from the latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report reveal that many owners are failing to meet their pets’ welfare needs. A shocking 1.9 million dogs (19 per cent) are left alone for longer than the maximum recommended four hours on a typical weekday, meanwhile, 1.3 million dogs (13 per cent) don’t get walked on a daily basis.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said, “Exercise is so incredibly important to dogs. Not getting enough exercise can cause health problems, such as obesity, but can also lead to long-term behavioural problems. Bored dogs are really unhappy dogs – they can show their frustration by chewing, barking, toileting in the house, being destructive and over-grooming themselves (licking too much).

“As our busy routines resume after the festive break, we know that millions of dogs will be left for longer than four hours, leaving them mentally unstimulated and bored.

“Dogs need daily outdoor exercise to ensure good physical and mental health. Worryingly, our Report found that 99,000 dogs (1 per cent) are never walked! Lack of exercise is a major contributing factor to the national canine obesity problem, along with too much food or the diet.

“Fun, fresh air, running and jumping can’t be underestimated, it’s utopia for our pets and probably many of us could take a leaf out of their book too!”

Taking time out of the day to walk somewhere new and exciting with your four-legged friend would not only benefit them greatly, but can also help us humans overcome any seasonal blues with fresh air and exercise. Make it part of your routine to walk in new places and really engage with your dog during walks, as this is valuable time for you both.

Research from PDSA also reveals that millions of our much-loved pets are being exposed to potentially fatal diseases due to a plunge in vaccination levels. The number of UK owners reporting that their pet has received primary vaccinations when young has dropped by 18 per cent in just three years.

“By getting their pets vaccinated, owners can avoid subjecting their pets to further misery in the shape of deadly diseases such as parvovirus, distemper and cat flu. Sadly, many of these diseases can be fatal if they are left unvaccinated.

“Affected pets that are fortunate to recover could be left with long-term health problems which means they have to struggle through a lot of pain, discomfort and treatments.  In turn resulting in feelings of guilt, worry and concern for owners, as well as leaving them with some costly vet bills.”

If you’re worried your pet might be feeling blue, free pet health advice can also be found on our website: www.pdsa.org.uk/blue-monday. For advice on keeping your pet happy and health, book an appointment with your vet or vet nurse.

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