IN THE DOG HOUSE: Londoners bottom of the national tables in terms of pet health and wellbeing habits

Londoners could do with learning some new tricks when it comes to keeping pets happy and healthy in order to help them catch up with the rest of the country, according to new research by pet wellness experts, Itch.

The research into old wives’ tales related to pet health highlighted some pet parent behaviours by Londoners that could be improved to improve the wellbeing of their furry pals.

During lockdown, many of us may have packed on the pounds, but so have our pets. Nearly a third (31%) of people from London have been told their pet could do with shedding some weight. This is higher than the national average, where a quarter (25%) of people have been told that they have a podgy pooch or tubby tabby by a vet.

What we’re feeding our little friends is another area where myths have replaced reality in the capital. It seems that 32% of Londoners wrongly believe it is safe to feed bones to pets, even though they can cause intestinal obstructions.

When it comes to taking the lead on walkies, Londoners are off the pace and are the least likely to think a dog needs 30 minutes walking a day. This could mean nearly two-fifths (38%) of the capital’s canines are pounding the pavements and parks for less than the amount of time recommended by vets per day.

When it comes to cats, Londoners aren’t purr-fect either. A quarter of folks in the Big Smoke believe house cats don’t need to be regularly exercised, 5% higher than the national average.

Even though most of us are currently at home for the long haul, in usual times leaving a pet home alone is something many Brits wouldn’t think twice about. Londoners are leaving their dogs alone for the longest, believing 8hrs, 47 mins to be fine. The average time we as a nation believe it’s acceptable to leave a dog alone is just under 6 hours (5hrs, 47mins).

One of the most important factors in ensuring your pet is healthy is regular visits to the vet, with at least one vet trip a year for annual vaccinations and a health check. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of Londoners don’t believe pets should be taken to the vet this much, the highest proportion in the country. Similarly, over two-fifths (41%) don’t believe a pet owner should regularly check for fleas, higher than the national average (28%).

It’s not all ruff news for London’s pets though. One of the most common unfounded pet myths is that a dry nose is an indicator that a dog is poorly. Londoners seem less superstitious than the rest of the country in this respect, with 66% being aware that this is untrue.

3% of pet parents from the capital also claim that they’ve put their pet’s welfare before their own and slept on the sofa to allow their dogs to doze and their cat to nap for the night.

Zoe Costigan, in-house Vet at Itch, commented: “When you live in the hustle and bustle of a big city like London, it can be harder to make sure your pets are getting the exercise, food and attention they need. It could be due to lifestyle that Londoners believe pets can be left at home alone for nearly 9 hours, but if you do have to be away from your pet for an extended period of time, our advice is to look for regular companionship for your pet, such as checking out one of the capital’s many dog walkers or local pet clubs.

“There are certain responsibilities that a pet parent needs to take on, which include ensuring lifestyle and diet are suitable, checking for fleas regularly and making annual trips to the vets for a health check-up. You really don’t need to come and see me if your dog has a dry nose, though – that one is definitely a myth!”

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