Pet Ownership is on the Decline in the UK
Britain has always been a nation of pet lovers but recent surveys suggest that pet ownership is on the decline. After several decades during which the number of pets steadily rose there are signs that pet ownership is faltering. But why should this be?
The Cost of Dog Supplies?
It is easy to jump to the conclusion that cost is an issue, especially in the wake of the recent financial crisis. However, there are no indications that the cost of keeping cats and dogs is behind the current trend. Indeed the cost of dog supplies and veterinary treatment has never put animal lovers off before. In recent years owners have actually tended to pamper their pets more than ever. Those who do have animals are happy to splash out on luxuries and premium foods. So if isn’t the cost of dog supplies that is putting people off, what is it?
It would appear that the ageing population is a significant factor. Older people are less likely to own pets. It is families with children who are most likely to keep animals. This is a shame because research repeatedly demonstrates that pet ownership is beneficial to health and that elderly people who have pets tend to live longer. An aging population should mean more pets not less!
Changes to the nature of our households may also be affecting pet ownership. There are more single person households than ever. It is harder for people living alone to take on the responsibility of an animal. Many such people are in rented accommodation where pets are often prohibited. In addition, there are more households in which all the adults are working and so are out all day. This makes them much less suited to dog ownership.
Many people live rather fluid lives these days too. They can move home frequently and travel around the country to enhance their careers. This means that they don’t have the support of their family close at hand and could lead to many being commitment averse.
We are now perhaps more motivated than ever by gathering possessions and engaging in new experiences. Life moves at an incredible pace and this can make pet ownership seem difficult. Pets could be seen as a hindrance. This is a terrible shame as pets are actually life enhancing and do not have to stop you doing anything. You just have to choose a pet which suits your preferred lifestyle.
These days many of our relationships are conducted largely through social media. Perhaps we have become anaesthetised to our need for interaction and real relationships.
Those who do wish to offer a home to a cat or dog might be finding it harder to secure an animal. Rescue homes are now extremely particular about who is permitted to take their animals and the awful stories about puppy farms which are all over the news must be making some potential dog owners think twice.
Hopefully the decline in pet ownership is a temporary phenomenon. Life would be so much the poorer without our wonderful pets!