Caring practices of pet cat and dog owners in Northern Ireland vs potential implications for animals’ health and welfare: Caring practices of pet cat and dog owners

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Abstract

This prospective, descriptive study assessed caring practices of pet cat and dog owners in Northern Ireland with a survey questionnaire,focusing primarily on feeding and exercising. Owners of both pet cats and dogs reported that they fed their pets either twice or three times a day (53 and 78% for cats and dogs, respectively). However, in the case of nearly 40% of pet cat owners it transpired that they fed their cat(s) as often as the animal demanded (18.8%) or that food was available all the time (20.7%). Cat owners reported that their pets had access to outdoors (84%) and were not provided with any play time (53.1%). The highest number of pet dogs (46.1%) were reported as being walked daily for less than 1 h, and the highest number (38.4%) were played with daily for less than 1 h. Both
cat (60%) and dog (61%) owners perceived the body condition of their animal ‘as it should be’ for animal age/sex. However, both pet cat (76%) and dog (63%) owners reported that neither their pet’s bodyweight nor its body condition was monitored. Our results suggest not all pet cat and dog owners are aware of the fundamentals of their animals’ feeding requirements as regards health and many
provide insufficient physical activity required for their animals’ health and welfare. The major strengths of the study include the size and geographic distribution of the study population allowing the generalisation of the results to other locations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-144
Number of pages14
JournalAnimal Welfare
Volume30
Issue number2
Early online date1 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 May 2021

Keywords

  • Animal welfare
  • body condition
  • exercise
  • feeding pattern
  • pet cat welfare
  • pet dog welfare

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