PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report

The state of our pet nation

The Animal Welfare Acts 2006 (2011 in Northern Ireland) introduced a “duty of care” for all pet owners to meet the welfare needs of their pets. Until the launch of the first PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report in 2011, there was no overarching means of identifying, assessing, monitoring and improving the wellbeing of companion animals. The (PAW) Report is the first step towards this and remains the largest survey of its kind in conjunction with leading research agency YouGov.

PDSA has found that UK pet owners are failing to meet the health and welfare needs of over millions of cats, dogs and rabbits. Whilst there have been some changes in recent years such as better diets for rabbits and increasing levels of preventive care, the state of our pet nation’s health and wellbeing could still be greatly improved. 

As the UK’s leading veterinary charity we want to identify welfare issues and do all we can to improve the physical health and mental wellbeing of pets.

About The Report

Why has PDSA produced this Report?

The purpose of the PAW Report is to deliver an annual index (score) reflecting pet wellbeing in the UK. This means each year PDSA can measure how healthy and happy pets are.

The PAW Report is based on the five welfare needs of companion animals as detailed in the Animal Welfare Acts. Each year, respondents are surveyed about each of the five welfare needs, in direct relation to their pet, and their level of knowledge in each area.

The Report is produced in conjunction with YouGov, one of the UK’s leading research companies. YouGov has an established track record of consistently accurate and high quality survey data, representing all ages, socio-economic groups and other demographic types. We can then use these results, year on year, to provide pet owners with the support they need to give pets in the UK the lives they deserve.
What We Have Found

The state of our pet nation

The six Reports to date paint the most accurate and comprehensive picture of animal health and wellbeing ever produced in the UK. Each shows that while we are a nation of pet lovers, and despite the affection owners have for their companion animals, we are still failing to meet our pets’ welfare needs. 

So many problems that are seen by animal welfare organisations across the UK are entirely preventable. People continue to make misinformed choices at every stage of their pet ownership journey, and consequently pet welfare is being compromised.

Reassuringly, almost all pet owners love their pets and treat them as valued family members. But love is not always enough. Pets deserve a life where all their physical and emotional needs are provided for, so that they can live healthy and happy lives.

Working with the pet owning public and the veterinary profession, together we can make a difference. 
What PDSA Will Do Next

A better life for pets

Using the results of the PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report, we are able to identify and raise awareness of the main issues faced by pets in society today. This shapes our pet health and welfare work and ensures our education programs and campaigns focus on these issues.

We want to work with the pet owning public to help them enjoy pet ownership through a deeper understanding of their pets’ needs. We also want the Report to act as a catalyst for debate amongst the veterinary profession and pet owners, provide areas for further academic research and encourage collaborative work between animal health and welfare organisations and the broader pet industry.

The 2016 PAW Report has highlighted that only 5% of owners take advice from a vet before taking on a pet. This year’s Report has also shown a worrying trend of impulse buying, with around 5.2 million pet owners doing no research at all before taking on their pet.  To help tackle this, we’re launching our ‘Which Pet is Right For Me?’ consultation framework to help veterinary practices reach owners before they adopt or buy a new pet.  We want to help potential owners to take on pets that are most suitable for their lifestyle, ensure they know where to appropriately source their new pet and how to care for their chosen pet’s five welfare needs. If we can equip owners with this information from the start, we hope to help achieve a happier, healthier pet nation. 

At PDSA our vision is a lifetime of wellbeing for every pet, and we pledge to help educate the nation to prevent the preventable, and continue treating the sick and injured pets of people in need.