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Vet and Vet Nurses

Anxiety and stress is an increasing problem among dogs seen in veterinary practices.

Few of us doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK-wide lockdown have increased stress among dog owners and their pets.

The PDSA Paw Report 2021 confirms that much of what has been worrying veterinary professionals in their own locality is now being experienced nationally. By surveying 4,579 pet owners and 623 veterinary professionals, pre and post lockdown, this recent Paw Report confirms some alarming trends among the UK's 12.5 million dogs.

Welfare issues with dogs

Post lockdown, 22% of owners that owned their pet before lockdown have reported that their pets have started to show at least one new behaviour since restrictions began:

  • 5% are spending more time in a quieter area of the house
  • 5% are showing signs of distress when left alone
  • 3% are showing signs of having a new fear
  • 3% are biting, snapping, and growling towards dogs that are unfamiliar to them
  • 7% of owners have witnessed new barking/vocalising for over a minute at someone outside of the window

Dogs acquired after the first lockdown (March 2020) have also been impacted:

  • 18% are showing signs of distress when left alone
  • 11% are biting, snapping, and growling towards unfamiliar dogs
  • 15% are showing signs of being scared
  • 18% of owners have witnessed barking/vocalising for more than a minute at someone outside of the window
  • 39% are jumping up at people
  • 27% have shown signs of reactivity and aggression
Veterinary professionals are all too aware of the pandemic's effect on the wellbeing of the nation's pets
  • 53% have seen increases in owners seeking professional advice for behavioural issues over the last two years
  • 66% routinely recommend clients for referral for behavioural issues
  • 61% have seen an increase in phobias, such as noise phobia
  • 46% have seen an increase in euthanasia in dogs for behavioural issues

What about veterinary professionals themselves?

The report indicates, “75% of veterinary professionals said that euthanasia due to behavioural issues has been one of the issues which has had the greatest emotional effect on them personally, over the last ten years”

Veterinary professionals looking forward

Animal welfare organisations have expressed concern about the potential for increasing behavioural problems when restrictions are lifted, with further changes in dogs’ routines and environments, as well as the lack of socialisation opportunities for young puppies.

Stress anxiety in dogs is clearly a growing problem for all concerned. This poses additional challenges for veterinary professionals, both in the dogs that are currently having to access veterinary treatment without an accompanying owner and in those where lockdown has allowed problem behaviours to develop further than might otherwise have been the case.

Breakthrough dog food has been shown to assist in the management of anxiety and stress in dogs, and as an adjunct to other therapeutic approaches. Combined with behaviour and training therapy, Breakthrough dog food can be one of the best-supporting tools for your veterinary practice and clients.

Breakthrough Ambassador Programme

Join our Breakthrough Ambassador Programme and become part of a network of pet professionals using Breakthrough dog food alongside behaviour and training modification to improve the behaviour and wellbeing of dogs across the UK, whilst minimising unnecessary rehoming and euthanasia.

Apply to become a Breakthrough Ambassador

Discover how Breakthrough can help you support clients and their dogs in your care with our online resources…

Breakthrough Dog Food and Progress Training Treats Bags
Click here to learn how Breakthrough dog food can support you and your clients with our unique dietary formula.
Hungry Labrador About to be Fed
Click here to discover the available resources to support you when recommending Breakthrough dog food.
Ben the Belgian Schipperke Lying Down in Some Leaves
Click here to read the full case history and behaviour modification advice which features in June’s VN Times.