The largest study of pet ownership in Ireland has been launched in celebration of the third year of the hugely successful Pawsitive Living campaign.
The study identified that 61 per cent of all Irish households own either a dog or a cat and owners truly cherish their pets with 91 per cent recognising both dogs and cats as members of the family.
It found that owners tend to have a closer relationship with their dogs than cats. Felines are more likely to be perceived as a companion, whereas dogs are more likely to be counted as a best friend - could that have something to do with cats' notoriously aloof natures?
Ireland is truly a pet-loving nation with 75 per cent of owners indicating that their pets were bought when they were a kitten or a puppy, creating that caring bond from a very young age.
Dogs remain the predominant household pet with 49 per cent of households owning only a dog and 30 per cent of households with just a cat as a pet. Cat ownership is skewed towards people who owned a cat during their childhood while families are more likely to be dog owners.
Pets are spoilt in Ireland and do very well at Christmas and birthdays with 40 per cent of people admitting to purchasing gifts for their pets for special occasions, according to the study from Pedigree Ireland and Whiskas Ireland.
Conducted across a nationally representative sample of 2000 households, the online research highlights that the majority of pets in Ireland are happy and healthy with 67 per cent of owners stating that they have never faced any health problems with their pets.
The most common health concern is ear problems, reported by ten per cent of owners. Dogs specifically suffer from joint or bone problems (eight per cent) while cat owners have reported teeth and ear problems with their pets (ten per cent).
The study also found that three out of four pet owners believe that good pet health is indicated by a healthy skin and coat, followed by no digestion issues. Almost two thirds of pets have visited their vet in a 12 month period, primarily for their annual medical visit or to receive vaccinations.
Irish pet expert and veterinary surgeon, Pete Wedderburn, comments on the findings: “Today’s findings affirm Ireland’s love for dogs and cats. The nation has arguably gone through a pet revolution with our four legged friends now being cared for as core members of the family.
"While the study highlights that two out of every three dog owners haven’t reported any health concerns with their pet, this as an opportunity to reinforce the importance of oral care. 80 per cent of dogs over the age of three suffer from gum disease caused by plaque and tartar build-up around the gum line, which is the most common disease in adult dogs.
"Dogs hide their pain so brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is a great way to keep their gums and teeth healthier and fight gum disease. You can also introduce fresh chews to prevent plaque and tartar build-up, as part of a healthy and balanced diet."
To coincide with the study, happy and healthy dogs and cats will be celebrated by pet experts at Pedigree and Whiskas with ‘Pawsitivity in the City’ - a free, fun-filled pet lovers’ event for all the family in Merrion Square from 11th – 13th March 2016.
Everyone can expect lots of puppy love and cuddles from an army of dogs from the ISPCA and even take a pet home through their Rehoming Programme on the day. The event will provide professional pet grooming services, vet and behavioural advice from the experts, including Pet Vet Pete Wedderburn, and lots of exciting pet prizes. For pet shy guests, balloon modellers and face painters will be there all weekend to keep them entertained.
Between the ages of zero and 12, my every waking hour was spent wanting a dog. My dog was not a fluffy snub-nosed puppy, but a big, strong intelligent canine like the ones I read about in spy books, carrying coded messages across battlefields crisscrossed with gunfire.