While many in the UK love their animals, more than eight in ten animal lovers will leave at least one appliance on to keep their four-legged friend company when they leave the house.
61% of those surveyed admitted to keeping the lights on, 60% kept, or turned on the heating, and just under half left either the radio or TV on.
Dog owners who leave the TV on for their pet do so for an average of 214 hours per year – enough time to watch two years’ worth of EastEnders. In total this adds up to over 583 million hours of TV per year.
But Battersea Dogs & Cats Home warns that, whilst many owners may believe they’re providing for their pets’ needs by leaving on appliances, TVs and radios are no substitute for human company and regular exercise. The charity is urging the public to think carefully before rehoming a dog or cat, and to take steps to ensure their pet is cared for when they can’t be at home with it.
Battersea’s Head of Canine Behaviour & Training, Ali Taylor, says: “Dogs are generally sociable animals and crave company. So many pets suffer from insecurity problems and separation related problems when their owner leaves them alone in the home and this can result in destructive behaviour or signs of depression. Whilst owners may think that leaving a TV or radio on will provide some form of noise distraction and company, the reality is that this is definitely no substitute for human companionship. Dogs in particular need to get out and about to meet and socialise with other people and animals and to enjoy all the sights, smells and sounds that our streets and parks have to offer.”
While dogs contribute to household energy bills, they are not the most energy intensive pet to keep at home. Tropical fish – which require dedicated tanks, filters and lighting – top the chart, costing up to £494 of energy a year, or almost half the average standard big six energy bill.