‘Can dogs walk in snow?’ How Google helps us to keep our pets happy - and well fed

dogs in snow
Margaret Davies

Confined to our homes and starved of human contact, it’s no surprise so many of us have bought dogs – but Google data shows some owners might not have been ready.

Inews reports that whenever wintry weather hits the UK, people tend to google similar things: variations on “will it snow today” and “where is it snowing”, practical considerations like “how to drive in snow”, and the odd philosopher or wannabe atmospheric scientist musing “what is snow?”

Those have all been asked again this season, but many have also been typing another important question into Google as they encounter this concern for the first time: “can dogs walk in snow?” (Answer: sure, but it’s “easier for dogs to get lost or disorientated on snowy surfaces.”)

Registrations of new puppies jumped 26 per cent during the first wave of Covid-19 in the UK, according to research published in August by the Kennel Club welfare group, and the RSPCA reported a 600 per cent rise in interest in fostering.

‘Can dogs eat bananas?’

As a result, search traffic for “dog names” climbed higher than ever before, with pronounced spikes at the height of each of England’s three national lockdowns. (Google’s first results, lifted from a US parenting website, begin with Annie, Betsey and, of course, Barkley.)

Data also shows record interest in “dog-friendly cottages,” reaching its zenith just before the summer holidays in late July. (Cornwall, Devon and Norfolk were the most searched destinations, with overseas destinations off-limits.)

A quarter of new owners admitted that they had not adequately researched their puppy purchase, however.

Perhaps this explains why there are so many food-based queries, as people either conduct conscientious safety checks before feeding time, or frantically check the consequences after their dinner was cheerfully swiped off their plate.

We seem fixated on feeding our puppies fruit, with “can dogs eat bananas,” “can dogs eat apples”, and “can dogs eat oranges” leading the charts. Pork, eggs and beans are also popular for pooches, and there is of course significant search for “can dogs eat bones” (incidentally, despite the popular perception, they should only have them in certain sizes and circumstances).

Rabbits: nature’s long-eared compost bins?

Dietary concerns dominate searches regarding other pets, too. The trends for rabbits suggest we treat them as a form of long-eared compost bin for our veggie leftovers, demonstrated by the queries for “can rabbits eat cabbage/lettuce/broccoli/cucumber”. Cats, by contrast, appear to live like furry little regency aristocrats, with the top searches checking if chicken, cheese or tuna will suit their exacting feline tastes.

According to the Kennel Club’s study, 15 per cent of new puppy owners admitted that, with hindsight, they weren’t ready to own their pet. Presumably these are the people now anxiously searching “when do dogs stop growing,” as the memory of their pocket-sized pupper gradually fades, and “how to stop dogs barking”.

There’s also the wonderfully hopeful “do dogs get tired of barking” – the answer to that probably won’t be welcome.

(Story source: Inews)

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