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UK dogs ‘under-walked and stressed out’

ONE IN four British dog owners believe that their pets are suffering from stress, with a quarter blaming their own hectic lifestyles, according to new research from Direct Line Pet Insurance.

The study of more than 1,000 dog owners found that half (53%) describe their life as stressful – and this anxiety is being passed on to their pets. As a result, symptoms such as vomiting (32%), diarrhoea (34 per cent), loss of weight/appetite (12%), lethargy (9%) and loss of fur (10%) are all afflicting the nation's dogs.

Lack of quality time between owner and pet also seems to be adding to this stress says Direct Line. Pet behaviourist Dr Roger Mugford said: "I estimate that 9 out of 10 dogs I treat nowadays do not have enough contact with people. The number of people living alone increased greatly over the last 20 years and we are working ever-longer hours. This is leaving the nation's dogs without human contact for greater periods of time.

"Dogs are social creatures who need the contact of humans or other animals, and this is having a negative impact on their psychological well being."

However, the research also reveals that 15% of owners are upset by not being able to spend more time with their pet. Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) rated their dog as more important to them than their job.

Nevertheless, only half of time-poor dog owners feel that they spend enough quality time with their pet (52%), with nearly one in 10 (8%) managing less than half an hour walking or playing together on a typical week night.

Busy lifestyles are also having a direct effect upon canine health. Only 44% of owners are able to walk their dogs the recommended two or more times a day, with almost a quarter (23%) walking their dog less than once a day.

* With thanks to UK Pets