Will lockdown puppies increase demand on pet professionals?

The effects of Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown on the UK stretches far and wide, and that includes the public’s relationships with pets.

A study from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) suggests that since the start of the pandemic, a total of 3.2 million households have purchased a pet in this country.

While most of those cats and dogs – animals that unsurprisingly make up the vast majority of that figure – will enjoy the care and attention they need, the industry is quietly apprehensive about the surge in ownership.

With a working from home environment widespread across the workplace, what happens to those animals when people return to the office is front and centre of the thoughts of Nicole Paley, Deputy CEO of the PFMA.

“We must work together with the pet care sector to ensure the 3.2m households with new pets get the support they need,” she said.

“This is in terms of access to educational material, training and adequate flexible working from home or pets in the office policies.”

Not only is the impact in this sudden increase in pet ownership on the animals themselves, but there is also the knock-on effect felt by those in the pet care industry, specifically dog walkers, groomers and sitters – but its repercussions have not been universal.

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Some sectors flourishing

Dog groomers have enjoyed the benefits of more and more dogs being cared for in a pet ownership boom that has been seen around the world.

The increased demand for grooming services has been felt in countries such as Australia and the United States, with businesses being booked up well into 2022 Down Under, while the pet grooming sector has been one of the fastest growing parts of the industry in the US.

That same effect is likely to be felt in the UK, with an increased number of pets needing grooming treatments in a post-lockdown world.

Of course, that increased demand further puts the pressure on professionals to meet that need for grooming in a safe and secure way.

The grooming industry is just one of the areas of the pet care profession that has seemingly benefitted from the effects of lock down, with pet sitters and boarders likely to feel the benefits of individuals wanting to get away for holidays when they deem it possible. With more animals to account for, it is sure to be a shot in the arm for sitters and boarders.

Homeworking attitudes affecting pet care

It’s not all been positive for those who look after dogs for their profession. While more households may have pets to take care of, the change in working attitudes means they are afforded more time to spend with their new pooch.

While midweek commutes might have previously put paid to any hopes of a morning or afternoon walk, for many, the daily grind of travelling to the office is a thing of the past.

The height of the lockdown saw the biggest effect on dog walkers, with most owners at home the majority of time. That saw the need for dog walkers greatly reduced across the UK, hitting the dog walking industry hard.

As workers start to return to the office, the situation has no doubt improved for business, but it’s clear the way the country works has changed for the long haul, with most office workers undertaking some form of hybrid working.

How things change in the future remains to be seen, but the balance between home and office working will play a major part in the demand for dog walkers in years to come.

Dog abandonments the major worry

Whether you’re a walker, groomer or simply a dog owner, this is a changing time for dog lovers. The lockdown surge has seen great strain on the care those animals receive.

A survey showed that four in ten dog owners are struggling to spend as much quality time with their animals as they had previously done, a number that increases to six in ten when asking those who bought a dog during lockdown.

More worryingly, Dogs Trust are predicting a crisis of sorts, with up to 40,000 dogs estimated to soon require attention having been abandoned or given up following the transition to the ‘new normal’.

Those figures might not directly affect pet care professionals, but those in the industry must stay on top of trends that could soon have an impact on their business, whether they are a walker, groomer or sitter.

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