To mark the launch of the Pet Health Information website (, a nationwide search for 'it shouldn't happen to a pet' anecdotes to highlight the lack of awareness of pet health issues amongst owners has revealed some howlers. Pet care professionals were invited to submit their stories, and the responses, which ranged from the mildly amusing to the downright ridiculous, came flooding in.

Extracts from the "It shouldn't happen to a pet" shortlist...

"An 'armchair expert' who carefully removed one of the eight evenly distributed 'ticks' from his dog's undercarriage, and rang his vet in a panic when he couldn't stem the subsequent bleeding not realising that dogs have nipples too."

"An intact male hamster who came into the surgery, his owner distraught about the 'tumors' she had discovered between his hind legs, later to be told that they were in fact testament to his manhood."

"A young horse booked in by his owner for the first of his annual castrations."

"An astonishingly co-operative dog, who willingly allowed his owner to treat his ear infection at source - by inserting antibiotic tablets into his ears."

"A kitten suffering from acute vomiting had been reported by its owners as allegedly bringing up a 'lasagne' type sheet at home. The clinic staff's joy at the kitten's miraculous recovery was short-lived when it became clear that he had passed a condom during the night, and as well as retrieving it, they would also have to inform his owner, and her mother, of the reason for the kitten's mystery illness."

How much do we really love our pets?

New research(1) has revealed that 91% of Brits say pets have a positive impact on children and over half believe pet owners are more responsible citizens. What's more, seven out of ten surveyed believe that pet ownership makes you more intuitive to the needs of others, whilst almost two thirds (62%) say pet owners are more caring. And yet, additional research showed that, as a nation, we don't give our faithful companions the due care and attention they deserve.

Pet owners fall into two categories - those who are 'preventers' and those who are 'non-preventers'. Whilst both camps agreed that responsible pet ownership equalled love and attention resulting in caring, feeding and exercising their pets, disease prevention was often not seen as part of this love with only 55% of dogs and 46% of cats over two years of age being vaccinated against potentially fatal diseases.

'Preventers' make a conscious effort to ensure their pet is protected from a wide range of problems with 96% regarding worming as a regular part of pet health care, whereas 'non-preventers' are more likely not to worm their pet because they see no reason to do so, with over a quarter (28%) not deeming it to be necessary.

Alarmingly, the research also showed that the two out of five owners who sleep with their pets - with the pet in the bedroom, on the bed, or even in the bed itself - despite their close proximity with their pets, are no more likely than other owners to practice preventative health care such as worming or flea control.

The latest research went on to illustrate the significant benefits and rewards of pet ownership with 78% quoting companionship as the most rewarding aspect in the survey undertaken by Opinion Matters(1). Moreover, over half of people (58%) went on to admit that their pet cheers them up and just under a third (32%) revealed that their pet does wonders for their sense of humor.


1) Research carried out by Opinion Matters from 29th May to 2nd June 2008 surveying over 1,300 people.

2) Research carried out by Cognition Marketing in June 2007 surveying over 1,024 pet owners.

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