Purchasing a 'pandemic puppy' from low-welfare breeders could cost UK owners millions in vet bills

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05 October 2020
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The hidden costs of a ‘Covid Companion’ and how you can avoid being ‘pet-fished’.

Due to an explosion in demand for pet ownership over lockdown, purchasing a Covid companion animal from high-volume, low-welfare breeders could be costing the UK economy an estimated £400 million a year.

Research by leading pet care brand Bob Martin has identified a tenfold spike in demand for people looking to purchase a companion animal whilst in lockdown.

With online search volumes for cat and dog purchases at all-time highs, the company is calling on prospective owners to be vigilant and do what they can to avoid the unethical practice and being stung with spiraling vet bills, known as being ‘pet-fished’.

According to Government data, buying a pet from a low welfare breeder could cost pet owners an extra £5,000 in vet bills in the first 12 months. Unfortunately, high-volume breeders churn out puppies with little or no regard for their welfare.

An estimated 400,000 farmed puppies are sold to the British public every year, and according to the Kennel Club, around a fifth of these (four times the average) suffer from Parvovirus - a potentially fatal disease which can be expensive to treat. According to Bob Martin, the farms often disregard preventative healthcare for pets too, with the issue of parvovirus often compounded with a lack of simple flea, tick and worm treatments carried out by farms, which can further hike up vet bills.

Based on this data, and with Parvovirus treatments costing up to £5,000, Bob Martin’s research estimates the yearly cost of puppy farming in the UK could be up to £400 million.

And the problem is set to worsen, recent figures have found puppy registrations rose 26% between April and July, with predictions from animal welfare charities expecting a further spike in the run up to Christmas.

Research from the Kennel Club found 41% with a pandemic puppy said they wanted a lockdown companion, and in total 41% of people who bought a puppy in the last year did not see the puppy with its mother and 53% did not see its breeding environment.

Aurelie Gayraud, Senior Brand Manager at Bob Martin, gives her top tips on how prospective buyers can avoid being ‘pet-fished’ and stung with the colossal vet bills:

  1. Make sure you purchase a pet through a reputable breeder wherever possible. The Kennel Club’s website is a good place to start researching this, but if you’re buying online, be extremely careful and make sure you’re aware of what to watch out for. Never buy a puppy from a random location such as a petrol station or car park.
     
  2. Always ask to see the puppy’s mother, make sure you’re buying the puppy in the breeding environment and ensure you take a good look at the breeder’s house. If something doesn’t feel right, or it sounds too good to be true, you should probably walk away from the sale.
     
  3. Always be sceptical if the breeder doesn’t ask you about your circumstances. If they don’t sound bothered about the pet’s welfare after the sale, this should certainly sound some alarms.
     
  4. Always ask to see the relevant health certificates for the puppy and its parents. Report any concerns to the relevant authorities or the RSPCA if you suspect you’re dealing with a puppy farm.
     
  5. When you’ve brought a new pet into your home, ensure you treat it with relevant flea and tick treatments to ensure they’ve not brought any nasty parasites with them from the breeders’ place. Use a flea or tick treatment such as Bob Martin Clear Plus, which kills fleas and their eggs on the pet and in the immediate surroundings to prevent re-infestation.

For more information on Bob Martin as well as tips and advice on managing fleas, ticks and worms, please visit www.bobmartin.co.uk