The third annual PDSA Animal Welbeing Report came out at the end of the last year (see previous years 2011 & 2012). The PAW Report is the PDSA’s survey of various things that effect animals welfare, so things like: are they getting the right foods, do they get enough exercise and appropriate health care. It covers cats, dogs and rabbits, though, of course, it’s the later that I’m going to tell you about.
I do like a nice bit of data to quantify the issues; it’s nice to have numbers on how good (or bad) things are, that way you tell whether things are getting better (or worse). Sometimes it can feel like no matter how much you harp on about rabbit welfare things don’t improve, but is that actually true?
Here are the figures in a nice graphic (feel free to share that around):
So what do all those numbers mean?
I think this area has shown most improvement. There is a big decrease in muesli, possibly relating to the publicity around the muesli research I posted about, and an uptick in hay eating. As diet makes a bit impact on rabbit’s physical health, that’s a great thing for rabbit’s welfare. It’s likely to mean few cases of dental disease, obesity and digestive issues.
This is an interesting one because neutering has increased, which is good news as it helps prevent behaviour problems, unwanted pregnancies and shows owners are willing to get routine vet care. However, what surprises me is there hasn’t been a corresponding downward trend in rabbits living alone. I’d have expected that with more rabbits neutered they’d go on to having a companion. Perhaps there is a gap in education there – we’re doing a good job of selling the health and behaviour benefits but haven’t got the message about companionship out as widely.
There is a turn for the worse here, with less rabbits getting daily exercise in a run or garden, or having the opportunity to play with toys. That’s bad news, as exercise and enrichment activities are also important for rabbit’s well-being. Rabbit’s that don’t get enough exercise and stimulation are more likely to display problem behaviours and generally be unhappy.
It seems an odd thing to change for the worse when there have been a lot of changes for the better. I wonder if some of this could be down to the phrasing of the questions, for example Scamp doesn’t exercise in a run or the garden. Maybe the question is tricky for house rabbit owners to answer? Just one thought – stats don’t always show a clear picture.
On the whole though, I there are some positive changes. What do you think, are things getting better or worse for rabbits?