Are you breaking the law? You might not know...

We all want to give our dogs healthy, happy lives – but did you know that it’s actually illegal not to?

Over a third of British pet owners aren’t aware such a law exists but it’s been in place since 2006. The Animal Welfare Act (England and Wales) and Animal Health and Welfare Act (Scotland) ensure that all pet owners are legally responsible for meeting the care and happiness needs of their domesticated animal. Your dog has rights too, you know. There are five main welfare needs that must be addressed:

There are five main welfare needs that must be addressed:

  1. Living in a suitable environment

Obviously a ‘suitable environment’ will vary wildly from pet to pet – a turtle needs a different home to a cat, for example. But where your dog is concerned, this means somewhere warm and dry to sleep where they feel safe and a space with plenty of room to move around that’s kept clean at all times. 

  1. Eat a suitable diet

Making sure that your dog is getting all the nutrients they need from their food. PoochPlay will recommend what and how much to feed your individual pup based on their breed, weight and age. Just follow our guidelines and you should be fine.

  1. Exhibit normal behaviour patterns

So for dogs this means sniffing, exploring, running around, generally doing doggie things. If your dog can’t behave in their normal way because you’re keeping them inside all the time or have them chained up then you’re breaking the law. Dogs need to be dogs.

  1. Be housed with, or apart from, other animals

For dogs this can vary from pooch to pooch. Some dogs can’t stand being around others so should be the only pooch at home, or they might be OK with dogs but hate the sight of cats. And then there are other dogs who get lonely alone and need a companion – it all depends on what’s right for your pet. You can find out more about the likely needs of your dog breed in PoochPlay, if you’re concerned.

  1. Be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

This one should be obvious, but you might not know your pet is suffering. If they’re carrying some extra weight – particularly if they’re older – they may be walking on sore, aching joints. This could lead to more serious problems in the future, so use PoochPlay to make sure you’re giving your pet enough exercise to help them stay healthy.

Every pet, including those being looked after by someone temporarily, has the right to proper care – and owners or foster families face prosecution if they aren’t providing it. Typically this means a fine of up to £20,000; a possible prison sentence of up to six months; having their pet taken away and being banned from owning pets in the future.

But more importantly, failing to meet your dog’s needs means you’re causing suffering to your trusting pooch. The one you promised to give a good home to. You could be causing distress to your dog without even knowing.

Ask yourself if your dog:

  • has a comfy environment to live in?
  • gets enough of the right food?
  • has enough space and opportunities to move around as much as they need to?
  • lives with or away from other pets of their own species if they need to?
  • is unlikely to hurt themselves, get sick or suffer?

If the answer to any of those questions is ‘no’ then you could be hurting your pooch. Give them the best possible life with the PoochPlay app and dog activity tracker and monitor their complete wellbeing – nose to tail, diet to dog walk, lick to wag.