Anais Gallagher

New pet owners putting themselves at risk of ‘petfishing’ by choosing looks over health

New research released today reveals that when it comes to purchasing a new puppy, new pet owners are falling for puppy dog eyes, with more than a third of new owners admitting they are swayed by a puppy's cute looks. A further 69% fail to do any research to make sure it is the right puppy for them. 

Many are putting themselves at risk of being petfished, as an incredible 85% admitted they did no research into the breeder or the parents, such as looking at health tests, before getting their puppy, and 43% get hit with expensive vets bills in the first two years of their puppy's life, according to the new research from Burns Pet Nutrition

The research of 2,000 pet owners also found that 1% of puppies don't make it to two years old, sadly passing away due to health problems. 

To make matters worse, almost a third1 (30%) of new owners fail to take out pet insurance to cover the cost of the treatment.  

There is also the risk that the puppy could have a congenital or hereditary health condition that is common to that breed which isn't always covered by insurance, particularly if there have been any signs or symptoms of that condition prior to taking out the insurance.  This can end up costing owners thousands of pounds to treat, which almost one in ten (8%) have fallen victim to. 

This research comes as Burns Pet Nutrition is championing healthy puppies and dogs, and has partnered with Admiral Pet Insurance and Anaïs Gallagher to help educate new dog owners into doing their research before they purchase a furry friend.  

As such, they have created a checklist, encouraging puppy buyers to PAWS for Thought before they take a puppy home. 

PAWS For Thought with these four steps:  

  • Make sure to see the puppy/kitten with its mum   
  • Research the possible health problems of that breed and which conditions they might suffer from. Ask to see the parents' health tests, if there aren't any ask why or walk away 
  • Work out what sort of diet your pet will need and its likely cost, along with the levels of mental stimulation and exercise it will need, and try and select a pet that meets your lifestyle 
  • Get an insurance quote for the breed to make sure you can afford it, and check what breed conditions are/aren't covered by pet insurance   

John Burns, MBE, founder of Burns Pet Food said: "We all want happy, healthy dogs, and have them be part of our family for as long as possible. Many put themselves at risk of expensive vet bills quite early on in their pet's life, often without pet insurance, or for a condition that isn't covered by their insurance as it's a common condition for that breed.  It is hard not to fall in love with an adorable puppy, but it is important to PAWS and think is this a healthy puppy, can I afford to care for it if it comes unwell. Whilst every puppy needs a home, the more people continue to buy pets from breeders who focus on money over breeding healthy pets, this issue will only continue to grow to meet the demand." 

Pritpal Powar, Head of Admiral Pet, said "We want to help pet owners ensure they have happy and healthy animals that will be part of their family for a long time. It really is important to make sure you know the pros and cons of the breed you are getting and ensure you have the right insurance to cover any vet treatments they may need. You also need to declare any pre-existing medical conditions as these often won't be covered. 

"It is so sad to hear that some puppies don't have a long life that could have been prevented if they were bred responsibly. We encourage everyone to think about the pet they are hoping to get and where they are getting it from to help put a stop to these unethical breeders." 

Anais Gallagher, who is supporting the PAWS For Thought campaign added: "I frequently see on social media, dogs and puppies with health deficiencies that lead to expensive vet treatments, often down to bad or irresponsible breeding. It's important to keep a clear head when finding a the perfect addition to your family and to not be drawn in by adorable photos and videos you  may see online, take the time to ask the right questions, go and see the puppy with its mum and the conditions it's being kept in, and if something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't ... so don't brush it to the side, because you, and the puppy will ultimately pay the price"

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