Next Article in Journal
Effects of In Ovo Injection of Zinc or Diet Supplementation of Zinc on Performance, Serum Biochemical Profiles, and Meat Quality in Broilers
Previous Article in Journal
Disentangling the Legal and Illegal Wildlife Trade–Insights from Indonesian Wildlife Market Surveys
Article

Pandemic Puppies: Demographic Characteristics, Health and Early Life Experiences of Puppies Acquired during the 2020 Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the UK

1
Department of Clinical Science and Services, The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Herts AL9 7TA, UK
2
Department of Pathobiology and Population Sciences, The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Herts AL9 7TA, UK
3
EviVet Evidence-Based Veterinary Consultancy, Nottingham NG2 5HU, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Mandy Paterson
Animals 2022, 12(5), 629; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12050629
Received: 5 February 2022 / Revised: 28 February 2022 / Accepted: 1 March 2022 / Published: 2 March 2022
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
During the early 2020 phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK witnessed an unprecedented increase in puppy acquisition. This led to concerns that these puppies may have missed out on key socialisation experiences during periods of lockdown which could impact their future welfare. This study examined early-life exposure to socialisation and habituation experiences, including social and non-social stimuli and attendance at puppy classes, along with the health and demographics of puppies purchased under 16 weeks of age in the UK between 23 March–31 December 2020 (“Pandemic Puppies” cohort; n = 4369). Owners of puppies purchased under 16 weeks of age during the same date range pre-pandemic in 2019 (“2019 puppies” cohort; n = 1148) were surveyed as a comparison group. Pandemic Puppies were significantly less likely to have attended puppy training classes or been exposed to visitors to their home before 16 weeks of age than 2019 puppies. Pandemic Puppies were also significantly less likely to have had a veterinary health check prior to purchase or to be Kennel Club registered. In contrast, Pandemic Puppies were more likely to be a ‘Designer Crossbreed’ and to be sold with a passport. This suggests majors shifts in the socialisation and demographics of the puppies acquired during the 2020 phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and raises concerns for the future welfare of Pandemic Puppies.
The UK recorded sharp rises in puppy purchasing during the 2020 phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many first-time dog owners purchasing puppies to improve their mental health during this challenging period. Government restrictions on movement and social interaction during the pandemic led to animal welfare concerns over puppies’ reduced time-sensitive exposures to key environmental and social stimuli during their critical developmental period. This study aimed to compare demographics, health and early-life experiences of puppies purchased and brought home < 16 weeks of age between 23 March–31 December 2020 (“Pandemic Puppies”), with dogs purchased and brought home < 16 weeks during the same date period in 2019 (“2019 puppies”). An online survey of UK-based puppy owners was conducted between 10 November and 31 December 2020 with valid responses representing 5517 puppies (Pandemic Puppies: n = 4369; 2019 puppies: n = 1148). Multivariable logistic regression modelling revealed that Pandemic Puppies were less likely to have attended puppy training classes (67.9% 2019 vs. 28.9% 2020; p < 0.001) or had visitors to their home (94.5% 2019 vs. 81.8% 2020; p < 0.001) aged < 16 weeks compared with 2019 puppies. Fewer Pandemic Puppies underwent veterinary checks prior to purchase than 2019 puppies (2019: 91.3% vs. 2020: 87.4%; p < 0.001), but more were sold with a passport (2019: 4.1% vs. 2020: 7.1%; p < 0.001). Pandemic Puppies were significantly more likely to be ‘Designer Crossbreeds’ (2019: 18.8% vs. 2020: 26.1%; p < 0.001) and less likely to be Kennel Club registered than 2019 puppies (2019: 58.2% vs. 2020: 46.2%; p < 0.001). Greater support from veterinary and animal behavioural professionals is likely needed to ameliorate the health and behavioural impacts of growing up in a pandemic upon this vulnerable population. View Full-Text
Keywords: dogs; puppy; COVID-19; lockdown; welfare; behaviour dogs; puppy; COVID-19; lockdown; welfare; behaviour
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Brand, C.L.; O’Neill, D.G.; Belshaw, Z.; Pegram, C.L.; Stevens, K.B.; Packer, R.M.A. Pandemic Puppies: Demographic Characteristics, Health and Early Life Experiences of Puppies Acquired during the 2020 Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the UK. Animals 2022, 12, 629. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12050629

AMA Style

Brand CL, O’Neill DG, Belshaw Z, Pegram CL, Stevens KB, Packer RMA. Pandemic Puppies: Demographic Characteristics, Health and Early Life Experiences of Puppies Acquired during the 2020 Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the UK. Animals. 2022; 12(5):629. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12050629

Chicago/Turabian Style

Brand, Claire L., Dan G. O’Neill, Zoe Belshaw, Camilla L. Pegram, Kim B. Stevens, and Rowena M.A. Packer. 2022. "Pandemic Puppies: Demographic Characteristics, Health and Early Life Experiences of Puppies Acquired during the 2020 Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the UK" Animals 12, no. 5: 629. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12050629

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop