Almost a million British dogs are suffering from mental health disorders, experts have claimed. Dog behaviourists have said that depression, anxiety and panic attacks are a silent epidemic among man’s best friend.
They believe that about one in ten pooches are dealing with mental health problems, equating to 945,000 across the country. However, while it’s a big problem for dogs, half of owners say they didn’t realise canines could suffer from these issues.
Dog behaviourist and trainer, Louise Glazebrook, said: ‘Mental health issues in dogs is a very real problem, with dogs across Britain suffering from a range of disorders – most commonly depression and anxiety. ‘This really affects how a dog thinks, feels and responds.
Yet this research shows that one in five Brits (20%) think dogs are simply acting up for attention. ‘When dogs have gone through trauma, have changes taking place or are struggling to find balance it will affect their mental health, which in turn will affect their behaviour.
‘It is always important for an owner to understand the cause rather than simply believing that they are being naughty.’ Louise added that her top tips on keeping dogs happy and healthy revolved around giving them a routine and company.
She added: ‘My number one tip is keeping a consistent routine. ‘Dogs thrive on predictability, it allows them to be relaxed and calm because they can understand what will follow on and come after. ‘Dogs are social animals, they love company – not leaving them alone for too long or too often is really important, certainly not more than four hours at a time.’
Research from Rover.com found that some owners had to take time off work to deal with their pup’s mental health issues. They took four days off on average in 2018, meaning employers lost 31.5 million working days.
The top causes of mental health issues for dogs are being left alone too much, abuse from former owners, the loss of a companion – either human or animal – and loud noises. Others include lack of exercise, a change in routine, tone of voice, not being taken out with their owners, not being petted enough and not going on their favourite walk.
Nearly two thirds of British dog owners have admitted they feel guilty about leaving their canine companion at home when they are out and 16% said they left their pooches alone for up to seven hours at a time.
However, 48% of Brits call their dog their best friend and over a third claim to care more about their canine than their family members. Rover is now calling for all UK pubs to become dog-friendly so people can spend more time with their pups after 44% of owners said they struggle to find a good option locally.
Simon Le Grice, spokesman for Rover, said: ‘It is a great shame that pubs still ban dogs, and a missed opportunity for publicans – there’s nothing dog-owning Brits love more than a long walk with their furry friend, followed by a pit-stop at the pub. ‘In an ideal world, we’d love for every pub in the UK to be dog-friendly.’
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