The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report is the UK's largest annual assessment of pet wellbeing.

When the PAW Report launched in 2011, it became the first overarching means of identifying, assessing and monitoring the wellbeing of companion animals and how well their 5 Welfare Needs are being met. While the introduction of the Animal Welfare Acts in 2006 placed a legal 'duty of care' for all pet owners to meet their pet's Welfare Needs, there was no accompanying Government surveillance, and therefore, before the PAW Report, no means of knowing if this was being achieved on a nationwide scale.

Each year PDSA works with leading market research company, YouGov, to survey nationally representative samples of pet dog, cat and rabbit owners, providing insight into animal welfare issues, estimating pet population numbers, and understanding how people care for their pets. Over the years, our vital research has found that millions of UK pets are not having these needs appropriately met.

14 years of data gives us unrivalled insight to track the changing trends of how well owners provide for their pets’ 5 Welfare Needs benchmarked against the UK Animal Welfare Acts.

Over 105,000 pet owners, vets, vet nurses and children surveyed since 2011

2024 Key Findings

Looking at each of the 5 Welfare Needs, alongside pet populations and acquisition behaviours, the 2024 PAW Report examines how the changing face of pet ownership in the UK is affecting the ways our pets are cared for. The Report methodology provides a robust, reputable and validated surveillance model through which we are able to monitor the potential impacts of changes pets and owners have experienced, as well as compare our findings against trends and data from the last 14 years.

In 2024, we continue to see the impact of the current high cost of living, as well as the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lifestyle changes. We have found improvements in some trends, such as the proportion of owners who undertake research before acquiring their pet, a vital step to take to ensure understanding of their chosen pet’s needs, and an increasing proportion of rabbits being fed a suitable amount of hay. Sadly though, some concerning findings have not changed significantly, such as the proportion of rabbits who live alone, and in unsuitable accommodation.

Alongside the analysis of trends, every year the PAW Report brings us new and interesting findings and the 2024 Report is no different. New findings this year include the amount of sleep dogs are getting and how this relates to their behaviour, and how cats’ behaviour is linked to their environment. 2024 also sees the introduction of legislation which has the potential to impact animal welfare, including the addition of XL Bully types to the list of banned dogs in the UK, and compulsory microchipping for cats.  The consistent methodology of the PAW Report allows us to accurately report on how all these changes affect the UK’s pets and pet owners.

Our findings provide us with evidence-based results, allowing us to look for emerging trends and early indicators of developing welfare issues for pets. They allow us to continue to monitor and safeguard the wellbeing of the nation's pets and help us to identify key issues and work with others in the sector to drive positive change for pet welfare across the UK.

Our 2024 PAW Report is also available as a downloadable PDF, get your copy here.

Antibiotic Stewardship Report

In 2023, our PAW Report survey included questions about antibiotic stewardship, providing insight into the perceptions of both pet owners and veterinary professionals about this important issue.

The issue of antibiotic usage and resistance in companion animals is of significant concern both globally and within the UK. Antibiotics are essential in both veterinary and human medicine but their use, whether appropriate or not, creates a powerful selection pressure on bacteria and is the primary cause of antibacterial resistance, posing a serious threat to both animal and human health. Eliminating unnecessary use in people and animals is essential to safeguard antibiotics for the future.

PDSA is committed to antimicrobial stewardship and has produced protocols focused on this area in recent years, achieving demonstrable reductions in antimicrobial use across its network of Pet Hospitals, while still optimising patient outcome.

This report provides an overview of the work PDSA has done to reduce antibiotic use, alongside exploring the initiatives and collaborative efforts taken by organisations like the Responsible Use of Medicines Alliance, Companion Animals & Equine (RUMA, CA&E) to improve antimicrobial stewardship and ensure the continued responsible use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine.

Why does PDSA produce the PAW Report?

The purpose of the PAW Report is to provide an in-depth analysis of current welfare issues and overall pet wellbeing in the UK. This provides an evidence-base, and impact measure, for any activities or initiatives which tackle these issues, both for us and for those we work with from the veterinary profession and across the animal welfare sector, to local, devolved and central Government.

PDSA works alongside researchers and students to make PAW Report data available for studies on selected relevant topics, bringing additional animal welfare benefit through further research. 

Please get in touch if we can help with anything specific.

The PAW Report’s years of monitoring and tracking trends in pet welfare in the UK has been peer-reviewed and published in the Vet Record. ‘Driving evidence‐based improvements for the UK's ‘Stressed. Lonely. Overweight. Bored. Aggressive. Misunderstood…but loved’ companion animals’ (Wensley et al, 2021) is available via open access.


A nation of animal lovers

Many problems seen by animal welfare organisations across the UK are entirely preventable. 91% of owners tell us that owning a pet improves their life, but despite being a nation of animal lovers, who love their pets and treat them as valued family members, the PAW Report continues to show that many owners misunderstand their pet’s Welfare Needs which can impact on their long-term health and wellbeing.

Pet owners need support, and the PAW Report highlights the areas that need to be targeted to drive positive change. It’s essential that we continue to work towards understanding and overcoming the barriers owners have to providing the care that pets require, and helping them learn about how to take care of their pets, especially at a time with so many competing voices. The veterinary profession and the wider animal welfare community have a vital role to play in using both empathy and evidence-based information to guide owners to help them improve their pet’s wellbeing.

Working with pet owners, the veterinary profession and fellow animal welfare organisations, together we can make a better life for all our pets.

The front cover image of the PAW Report 2023