Dogs are social animals and hate being left alone. Unfortunately, a UK report reveals that approximately 1.9 million dogs, a quarter of the country's dog population, are just not getting the amount of companionship time they need. The PDSA (People's Dispensary for Sick Animals), a UK charity, says a pet dog should not be left alone for more than four hours each day.

The charity found that a considerable number of dogs are being left home alone for very long periods on a daily basis, resulting in loneliness, distress, and boredom. There is a much greater risk that the pet will develop behavioral issues, such as separation anxiety and destructive behaviors.

Companionship and stimulation are vital for a dog's mental health.

On a typical weekday 23% of British dog-owners leave their pet at home alone for at least five hours.

The PDSA revealed the following (UK dog owners): 33% of dog owners aged 18 to 24 years leave their pet alone at home for at least five hours 10% of those aged 55 or more leave their dogs at home for five hours or more Not surprisingly, full time employees tend to leave their dogs at home alone for the longest periods 52% of people who have a pet dog think it should not be left alone for over 5 hours 17% believe the maximum period should be six hours 15% think no more than 8 hours 4% think anything up to 10 hours is OK The majority of dog-owners are considerate towards their pet when making vacation plans: 26% send the dog to a dog-sitter 18% make arrangements at boarding kennels while they are away. 25% take their pet with them on vacation 16% leave the dog at home and arrange for family, friends or neighbors to feed them and take them for walks. The PDSA says this is "worrying" The PDSA says taking a dog on vacation with you is fine if you stay within your borders. However, when going abroad there may be problems with travel stress and catching diseases.

The PDSA gives British dog owners a score of 49 out of 100 for companionship.

If you are thinking about having a pet and are away for many hours each day, perhaps a cat might be a better choice than a dog. Cats are naturally solitary animals as well as fantastic companions. However, they are not naturally prepared for living in households with other cats. They can learn to do so more successfully if they have their own food and water bowls and litter trays. Some cats may not mind sharing, but it is best to let them do so out of choice. Remember that cats usually enjoy eating and resting alone.

"The state of our pet nation - PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report 2011 (PDF)
When you get to the page, click on the link, you will need to fill in a form with your details to be able to download the document.

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