14-15 NOVEMBER 2024

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Pals or pests: What happened to all those pandemic puppies?

14 Nov 2024
RVC Clinical Theatre 2

During 2020 and 2021, there was a surge in puppy acquisition which has been dubbed the “Pandemic Puppy” phenomenon. Its main driver was thought to be the strict stay-at-home measures introduced by the UK Government to limit the spread of Covid-19 during this time, leading people to use this as an opportunity to acquire a puppy. This sudden escalation in puppy purchases led to a number of concerns, including whether those puppies had come from poor welfare sources who were cashing in on this surging demand, whether impulse purchasing might lead to unsuitable owners purchasing puppies with a subsequent surge in relinquishment, how owners would integrate those puppies back into their normal routines post-lockdowns, and whether deficits in socialisation experiences might lead to future behavioural problems. To answer some of these questions, the RVC’s Pandemic Puppies research group have conducted a series of surveys since 2020, exploring the early lives of several thousand puppies from this this uniquely vulnerable generation. We recruited over 7000 owners, many of whom have provided us with serial updates on what it is like to live with a puppy acquired during the Pandemic in multiple subsequent surveys. In this talk, we will summarise the findings of this ongoing research. We will discuss whether concerns raised at the time about the health, welfare, behaviour and relinquishment risks to these puppies were valid, what Pandemic Puppy problems you might be seeing in the consulting room, and the impact of intersecting societal issues such as the cost-of-living crisis.

Zoe Belshaw, Consultant - EviVet Research Consultancy
Rowena Packer, Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science - Royal Veterinary College

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