During Mental Health Awareness Week, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) charity is urging pet owners to keep their pets in light of the cost of living crisis. In the upcoming 2023 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, figures show that 94% of pet owners claim that owning a pet makes them happy. This is especially vital during times of hardship for many who have had to make extreme cutbacks to their finances. Some 770,000 owners have gone without necessities or luxuries to ensure that they continue to care for their pets.
Despite all the stress and difficulties that come with the cost of living crisis, nearly all (90%) of pet owners felt that their pet improved their lives. This feeling was especially higher amongst dog and cat owners at 91% and 89%, respectively. The data also supports that pets have a positive impact on overall health with 87% of pet owners feeling that having a pet makes them mentally healthier. Over two-thirds of pet owners (67%) further believe they are physically healthier, which is even higher among dog owners (86%).
Companionship is essential in times of difficulty, particularly given the isolation that many have experienced due to energy bills and soaring living costs. More than four in five pet owners (85%) acknowledge that owning a pet provides them with a sense of company and deprioritizes their loneliness.
According to PDSA Veterinary Surgeon, Lynne James, “Pets are family, and we know that pet owners will go to great lengths to ensure they can continue to care for their beloved pets. It vitally important that with everything pets do for us, we make sure that they have everything they need to live healthy and happy lives.” She also noted that their latest data proves the significance of pets during financial crisis, advocating for charities like theirs that aim to provide essential vet care and help keep pets and owners together in their time of need.
In 2022, PDSA provided veterinary care for over 390,000 pets, whose owners would otherwise have struggled to afford the cost, even to the extent of having to resort to rehoming. This decision would have likely caused severe mental health issues for both pet and owner alike.
James urged pet owners who are struggling financially and concerned about the cost of veterinary treatment to visit their website for a free eligibility checker to find out if they can access their services. The PDSA website also offers free advice on how to reduce the cost of caring for pets to ensure that they remain healthy and happy. She emphasized that helping pet owners in this way could take a mental load off them during the cost of living crisis.
The PDSA relies on donations to deliver life-saving treatment to hundreds of thousands of pets across its 48 Pet Hospitals in the UK. To help keep pets and people together, the charity is urging the public to donate and help prevent vulnerable people from having to make heart-breaking decisions.
In conclusion, owning a pet has numerous benefits and can positively impact mental and physical health. During difficult times such as the current cost of living crisis, pets can provide a sense of companionship, help combat loneliness, and offer comfort to their owners. Pet owners who are struggling financially should reach out to PDSA for support. Organizations like PDSA are essential in ensuring pets have access to medical care, and their owners don’t need to make heart-breaking decisions to rehome them. Donations to PDSA can help support their vital work and maintain the bond between people and their pets.