From lockdown to the cost-of-living crisis: Why UK pets are suffering

27th April 2023

Kent is one of the most popular places to own and bring pets, With it offering divine countryside and beautiful beach walks, the County is an overgrowing pet friendly haven.
The nation has become more inclined to own dogs and other pets as time goes on.
The global coronavirus pandemic saw many people getting pets, particularly Gen-z and millennials.
This was most probably because of being stuck indoors lonely, without work or socialisation.
Many wanted to get active and there was a trend in people enjoying nature the outdoors and 'organic pleasures in life'.
Adopting or purchasing a household pet was ideal.
The uncertainty in terms of the period of time we may be in a lockdown may have created panic in people, especially younger people, in terms of being so isolated which likely will have contributed to the surge of people purchasing 'lockdown pets'.

The result of the pandemic is ongoing global economic and financial hardship which has now meant many have to work harder and longer hours.

This is an entirely different struggle to the one we were in before, but it is the effect of the lockdown, and we are feeling the strain with food prices surging and people skipping meals to feed their children or pets.

The ongoing cost-of-living crisis is burdening the lives of many in the UK, but also causing our pets to suffer.
Many people are now unable to keep pets that they had adopted during the lockdown or even having to let go of pets they had prior due to financial hardship or no time to give them the right amount of exercise and attention they may need.

Vet bills are also increasing due to the prices of resources going up, therefore this is becoming a huge factor in why people are unable to keep their much-loved pets.

It is usually a very tough decision in any circumstances to have to relinquish a pet.

Further support is becoming available from local vets, shelters and charities who are doing as much as they can to help with pet costs becoming affordable or free when possible and give animals who need one, a loving home.

The Dogs Trust in Radfall Road, Whitstable offer services from support with dog behaviour to adoption.

They also offer fostering services for dogs who do not do well in kennels.
It is a beautiful environment for the dogs and the staff are wonderful.

However, all these dogs long for is permanent homes and to be part of a family.

The Dogs Trust are selective with making sure a dog is right for potential adoption and carry out home visits beforehand.

The Dogs Trust Canterbury

The cost-of-living has meant this Dogs Trust and a few other local animal charities have set up pet food banks, where people can collect, free of charge, pet food and various other items that have also been donated.

A Dogs Trust member of staff spoke on the impact these past three years had on the center.

We are finding after lockdown when everyone went back to work, a lot of dogs developed severe separation anxiety, and that meant we’ve had a lot more people have to bring their dogs here. It’s the bigger dogs we are seeing more of now as they need more time, exercise and are generally higher maintenance and with lots of people working longer hours at the moment they don’t have the time. The smaller dogs are getting homed way quicker.

—Canterbury Dogs Trust staff member

It was also evident that the bigger dogs were more in need of homes as you walk around the Whitstable Dogs Trust.

Application for dog adoption

She continued

In lockdown, loads of people were adopting, the whole area was almost green

—Canterbury Dogs Trust staff member

Nicole Paley of UK Pet Food commented on the higher demand for smaller pets coming about now. With people evidently wanting to still get pets, and our nations love for animals certainly not at a decrease, she said,
“The small pet population is on the up, suggesting that people believe they are more manageable and less expensive to keep.”

This is something we may see more of, but it still isn’t an ideal scenario as this shed an undesirable light on bigger animals, and the rates of people giving up small animals is very possible if costs of veterinary services continue to increase, and people still are unable to afford the costs.

Foster Scheme Dogs Trust

Pets come with many unprecedented vet bills, much like us, we cannot predict when they will become unwell or have an accident and people simply are unable to take that risk.
Therefore ultimately, we have seen a decline in the number of households owning pets this year.

Speaking to a volunteer from Animals Lost and Found in Kent, who are a charity completely free of any charge originating in helping people reunite with lost pets in the area, they now also offer support to pets and their owners shared some perspective of the current impact of soaring costs in the Country has had on pets.

More and more Facebook groups are setting up pages for food banks around the area, many people are choosing between feeding themselves or feeding their animals or kids but obviously Kids come first. We have seen a lot more people giving up their pets lately, during the lockdown people fancied a cat for keep them company while they were on zoom calls and what not, and now they are back to work all day means they are giving their animals which is stretching the rescues. We are at breaking point. We also see lack of education with people and animals which makes things more difficult

— Volunteer from Animals Lost and Found in Kent

She also spoke on how emotionally challenging it can be sometimes when rescuing animals and the efforts the rescue volunteers at Animals Lost and Found in Kent make.

Animals Lost and Found In Kent have taken measures and are doing referrals to help people keep pets they do not want to give up but feel they may have due to challenging circumstances.

Pet Food Bank Canterbury

Pets in Kent are also experiencing the impacts of the current financial crisis, we are a country who hold our pets dearly and most of us care about animals tremendously.

Owners are reluctantly having to give away pets and it’s massively due to finances currently.
It is heartwarming to see so many charities and rescue centre's going above and beyond to ensure animal welfare and still provide pets with the homes and quality of lives they deserve.

The lockdown plummeting into an economic disaster, which was arguably inevitable, has let many pets go homeless. Many households increasingly becoming pet less but not by choice is something that the cost-of-living has really cost us – elements of our joy.