School of Health in Social Science

Identifying optimal support for people and pets in the UK

A project funded by Blue Cross examining the nature and extent of challenges experienced by pet owners across the UK in the context of the current financial crisis


This two-year project builds on the Scottish project we carried out in 2021 and is funded by Blue Cross. The aim is to identify how the charity can better support people to look after their pets through in-depth understanding of the challenges that are currently being experienced. We know, for example, that changes in circumstances (financial, housing, relationships) can have a huge impact on people's ability to look after their pets as well as themselves and the rest of their family (financially or otherwise). 

Front page of the summary of findings for the Supporting People and Pets study

During the first year of the study, we carried out a UK-wide online survey with adult pet owners (aged at least 18 years) who:

  • were experiencing challenges with their pet/s (no matter how significant or small they seem);
  • felt like they are struggling to provide the best care for their animal/s on their own;
  • were thinking about giving up a pet, or 
  • had to give up a pet (and had to rehome, leave them, or have them put to sleep)

An in-depth qualitative study was also undertaken between December 2022 and April 2023 with a purposive sample of 20 pet owners who were experiencing financial hardship and challenges with their pets.

A summary of findings is now available to download:


We relaunched our survey during the summer with a view to comparing the situation for pet owners with last year's data. We will examine any change, as a result of the financial crisis, in the challenges experienced by pet owners, and highlight the various impacts on both people and pets. A report will be available later this year.

Three journal articles are currently being written, each focusing on a different element relating to the challenges of pet ownership.