Dog health and welfare
There are an estimated 9.3 million dogs in the UK and over a quarter of the UK population are dog owners. However the
PDSA Paw report 2015 has revealed some worrying figures about the welfare of pet dogs in the UK:
- 2.7 million do not get off-the-lead exercise outside of the home or garden every day
- 2.6 million are fed leftover dinners and scraps
- 5.5 million are not taken to training classes in the first six months
- 2.3 million are left alone for more than five hours during the week
The first two findings are in line with the autumn 2014 Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey results, which revealed 95% of companion animal vets said that better
weight control would have a significant impact on canine health and welfare.
This priority area focuses on the following aspects of dog health and welfare:
Responsible pet ownership is also a priority area for us and incorporates the health and welfare of both dogs and other pets.
Buying a puppy
We advise anyone buying or selling a puppy to use the free
AWF and RSPCA Puppy Contract. This will help to reduce the chance of buying a puppy from an irresponsible breeder.
If you are buying a puppy, or would like to provide information to clients on buying a puppy, we recommend the following resources:
The practice of puppy farming occurs in the UK and Europe and may lead to suffering for the animals involved and significant financial consequences for the owners. We believe this irresponsible practice must be tackled as quickly as possible.
Problems associated with puppy farming
- Puppy farming compromises the health and welfare of bitches and their litters
- Consequences of poor breeding leads to suffering for the animals and their owners
- Bitches are often kept in small pens without natural light or contact with other dogs
- Bitches are made to produce multiple litters a year
- Puppy farming facilitates the spread of infectious diseases
- Behavioural problems are common in puppy farmed in bitches and their pups
policy position on puppy farming (83 KB PDF)
Tail docking of dogs
Since the 1960s, we have campaigned successfully with the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) against the non-therapeutic docking of puppies’ tails because it is not in the animal’s best interests.
View our policy position on tail docking (144 KB PDF)
Related information on tail docking
Dog breeding and hereditary defects
The aim of responsible dog breeding is to produce healthy, well-socialised puppies. Different breeds and crossbreeds of dog may suffer from various hereditary defects and the irresponsible breeding of these animals may leave owners facing serious health and behavioural problems in their new pets.
latest data from the Hip and Elbow Schemes show a clear and sustained reduction in the incidence and severity of these conditions.
Reducing the risk of hereditary defects
We advise dog breeders to use the
Canine Health Schemes, a service we provide in collaboration with the Kennel Club to screen dogs for inherited diseases. This helps breeders make informed decisions as to whether those dogs are suitable for breeding.
Reporting caesareans and surgical procedures
It’s important for vets and breeders to report caesareans and any procedures that alter the natural conformation of a dog to the Kennel Club.
Kennel Club report form for vets
Download and display our awareness poster on submitting data (94 KB PDF)
Find out the
reasons for reporting conformational changes and caesareans
position on dog breeding (32 KB PDF)
Preventative healthcare for dogs
In order to ensure dogs have healthy and happy lives as pets, we strongly support methods of
preventative healthcare, these include:
- Microchipping dogs which will help tackle puppy farming, encourage responsible ownership and reunite dogs with their owners if they become lost
- Neutering of dogs to reduce unwanted litters and help prevent the perpetuation of genetic defects
- Owners wanting to take a dog abroad should follow
pet travel guidance and speak to their vet in plenty of time before travelling
Veterinary View video for more information about the benefits of preventative healthcare.
Our activity on dog health and welfare
Related legislation on dog health and welfare