A 2015 report reveals a shocking 1.3 million people have received pets as presents – a 50% increase since 2012, new research by PDSA has shown*.

The vet charity today urged people not to give pets as surprise gifts this Christmas, as findings from its annual PAW Report** highlighted that a lack of pre-purchase research could contribute to pet welfare problems.

Dogs like Peggy are available for adoption.

18 to 24-year-olds are twice as likely to have received a pet as a gift compared to other age groups***.

Pets taken on with no research may miss out on what they need to lead healthy, happy lives and go on to become stressed, lonely, obese or aggressive, says PDSA.

But purchasing pets on a whim is not confined to Christmas. The PAW Report – the largest annual survey into pet welfare in the UK and produced in conjunction with YouGov – revealed our ‘want it now’ consumer culture is evident in pet purchasing with over 4.5 million owners doing no research at all before getting a pet

Commenting on the worrying trend, PDSA Head of Pet Health and Welfare, and vet, Nicola Martin, said:

“PDSA is urging people to think long and hard before giving a pet as a gift. Our research reflects the nation’s love of pets, but receiving one out of the blue means the recipient is unlikely to be prepared for the commitment they will need to make for the lifetime of that animal. Pets become valued and much loved family members but they are a big responsibility. The novelty can quickly wear off if the owner is not fully committed, leading to pets having their welfare needs neglected or even in some cases being abandoned.”

Nicola added: “Many people lead busy lifestyles; and impulse acquisitions mean that some people can be totally unprepared for the responsibility that owning a happy, healthy pet entails. Alongside this, the financial cost of owning a pet is often vastly underestimated, with far more to consider than just the initial purchase price. A cat, for example, can cost £17,000 over its lifetime, excluding unexpected vet fees for illness or injury. So it is vital that anyone considering taking on a pet spends time researching and choosing the right pet for their lifestyle, as well as considering the costs and time required to properly care for their new family member.”

#PawsFirst campaign launched to tackle the welfare issues

The charity has launched its #PawsFirst campaign, which highlights the problem of rushing into getting a pet without understanding their needs first****.

PDSA’s #PawsFirst initiative encourages prospective pet owners to ask themselves if they are prepared for every aspect of pet ownership, challenging a developing culture of ‘click and collect’ for buying pets. And at Christmas time, this is more important than ever.

“Introducing a new pet to your home requires thorough planning, preparation and time, which you’re unlikely to have during the hustle and bustle of Christmas. The festivities can be very stressful for pets, the noise and commotion can create additional worry for pets who find themselves in unusual surroundings. What they really need is peace and quiet while settling into a new home and routine,” said Nicola Martin.

The charity is encouraging people to speak to their local vet practice for more advice before taking on a pet, or to visit a reputable online resource, such as PDSA’s website, which contains extensive expert information about popular pets and what’s involved in their care.

#Pawsfirst and visit www.pdsa.org.uk/pawsfirst

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