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Mental Health Awareness Week: Animal Charity Says Pets Can Be A Lifeline

Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (15-21 May), a leading vet charity is advocating keeping pets and their owners together through the cost of living crisis. 

Nearly all pet owners (94%) say that owning a pet makes them happy, according to new figures from the upcoming 2023 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report – and their support has been vital, especially as many people have been forced to make drastic cutbacks to stay afloat. 

While figures have shown that as many as 770,000 owners are going without necessities in order to keep caring for their pets, almost half of owners (44%) have also said that their four-legged friend has been a lifeline during the cost of living crisis.

Nearly all (90%) pet owners felt having a pet improved their lives, a comfort which is especially important as many feel the impact of the cost of living crisis. This figure is higher especially among dog (91%) and cat owners (89%). 

The findings also highlight the benefits of having a pet on overall health, with 87% stating owning a pet makes them mentally healthier. While over two thirds (67%) feel it makes them physically healthier – a figure that is even higher among dog owners (86%). 

Meanwhile, at a time where many people are having to juggle energy bills and soaring living costs, which can prove isolating, furry friends are essential when it comes to providing companionship. For example, the figures show that over four in five pet owners (85%) say that owning a pet makes them feel less lonely. 

PDSA Veterinary Surgeon, Lynne James, said:

“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's vitally important that with everything pets do for us, we make sure that they have everything they need to live healthy and happy lives.

“Our latest figures show pets are invaluable, especially when their owners are going through hardship. As the cost of living crisis worsens, the work of charities like ours becomes vital, not only to provide essential veterinary care, but also to keep pets and their owners together in their time of need. 

“In 2022, we provided veterinary care for over 390,000 pets, whose owners would otherwise have struggled to afford the cost and may even have had to resort to other options such as rehoming – the mental health consequences of which are unimaginable.

“As Mental Health Awareness Week approaches, I’d like to encourage pet owners who are struggling due to rising costs, and who are concerned about being able to afford the cost of veterinary treatment to reach out to us. Our website includes a free eligibility checker to find out whether they’re able to access our services, which is a great place to start. 

“We also have lots of free advice on how to reduce the cost of caring for pets, while ensuring they remain healthy and happy – something we hope will take a mental load off for many pet owners through the cost of living crisis.”

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 urgently calling on the public’s support to prevent vulnerable people having to make a truly heart-breaking decision. To find out more about PDSA’s vital work during the cost of loving crisis, or to donate, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/costoflovingcrisis.

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