A special kind of bond: over half of the UK’s pet owners see their cats and dogs as more beneficial to their wellbeing than other humans
- New study from MORE TH>N reveals full extent of nation’s love of their pets, with 54% of Britons saying their cats and dogs bring more benefit to their lives than other humans;
- As a result owners tend to over-humanise their pet which can have negative repercussions for their long-term health;
- As part of this, study finds that 18% of cats and 30% of dogs are overweight as a result of being over-indulged by their owner; and
- Research released as part of the launch of MORE TH>N's Future of Pet Ownership Report: a comprehensive new study that looks at the state of the nation’s cats and dogs based on a survey of 10,000 owners across the UK.
Research by MORE TH>N reveals fascinating trends in pet ownership in the UK
While four in five (78%) owners see their cat or dog as being a part of the family, over half of those polled (54%) even went as far to say their pet is more beneficial to their life and wellbeing than other humans, illustrating just how ingrained in our lives they have become.
So what are some of the positive ways pets are affecting people’s everyday lives?
- Over a third of Britons (37%) say pets inject a sense of humour into their day-to-day lives;
- Almost half (45%) say they help reduce stress;
- Over a third (34%) say they make them feel needed by offering a sense of companionship;
- Two in five owners (41%) say having a pet keeps them fit and healthy; and
- One in 10 (13%) admitted that owning a dog or cat makes them more sociable through the organising of play dates and the sharing of photos online.
The new research has been released as part of the launch of the MORE TH>N Future of Pet Ownership Report which assesses the state of the nations' pets - including their health and wellbeing, role in society and human attitudes to their animals, following a survey of more than 10,000 cat and dog owners.
Killing them with kindness?
The report however explores a tendency among those who see their dog or cat as more beneficial to their lives than humans as often being guilty of over-humanising and indulging their pet, which can have real implications for the overall wellbeing of an animal, in a trend experts are calling ‘killing them with kindness’.
So what are some of the ways we can be seen to be over-humanising our pets?
The report states that over over nearly six million pets are given treats as part of their daily diet, including crisps, cake, leftovers of human food, cheese, chips and takeaways. This however is leading to overweight animals, with the MORE TH>N survey revealing that 30% of dog owners and 18% of cat owners think their pet is overweight, which can have negative repercussions for their long-term health.
Andrew Moore, director of pet claims, MORE TH>N said:
“As a vet I have seen in real life what our report talks about with people coming to rely on their pets more and more — for their happiness and companionship. There is no doubt we love our pets, but the real kindness we should show is to keep our pets healthy and happy and that means keeping them the right weight. Obesity has such a negative impact on them not only making them more vulnerable to certain illnesses, but also impeding their recovery when they are ill or get injured.”
The research also showed that behaviour is another area of concern, with a lack of socialisation of cats and dogs at an early age leading to aggressive traits towards both other animal and humans.
Research from the RSPCA revealed that while 93% of dog owners agree dogs should be trained how to behave from an early age, just 39% of owners have actually ever attended training classes with their pooch. Rather, the trend of owners spoiling their pet and failing to teach them basic boundaries, as opposed to teaching them core social skills and manners, results in them becoming poorly controlled and poorly socialised with other dogs.
This trend appears to be taking its toll, with the research also revealing that 41% of pet owners know someone who had given up a pet, with bad or destructive behaviour also cited as the reason in almost half of cases.
Dr Julia Wrathall, chief scientific officer, RSPCA, who contributed to the report, commented:
"We could significantly improve the welfare of our pets in future by taking the trouble to see the world from their perspective. If we understood how our dogs and cats think, what experiences they do and don't enjoy (which may be very different from our own preferences), and why they behave in the way they do in response to different situations, we would be better able to meet their mental needs and to resolve unwanted behaviour by addressing the cause, not the symptom.”
“The MORE TH>N Future of Pet Ownership Report aims to shed light on this paradox by providing a detailed assessment of the state of the nation’s pets based on a range of factors. It sets out to help owners educate themselves on what is best for their cat and dog—putting their pet’s interest first to ensure they live long, happy and healthy lives.
Notes to editors
The Future of Pet Ownership report was compiled by freelance personal finance journalist Rosanna Spero on behalf of MORE TH>N Pet Insurance between January and March 2018.
This report looks into the state of the nation’s pets - their health and wellbeing, role in society and human attitudes to their animals. It is backed up by a survey of more than 10,000 cat and dog owners questioning all areas from how their lives are enhanced by pet ownership to the costs and insurance issues they face. The survey then formed the basis of a round table discussion with leading pet charities and vets to look at ways of improving pet health and other issues compromising their welfare.
Download the full press release (PDF) for survey highlights and more information.