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Pets Are Now Family Members
National study finds more pets are now 'family members' and we're
investing more in their care. A report published by
Animal Medicines Australia (AMA) in December 2016 has identified key
trends in pet ownership and explores the evolving nature of pet
ownership in Australian communities.
Australia's pet population is now estimated to include 4.75
million dogs and 3.9 million cats.
Increasing proportion of pet owners now consider their pet to
be a member of the family.
Smaller dogs more likely to be 'indoors dogs' only.
We now spend around $1475 per annum to keep a dog of which
around $622 is for food.
Annual costs of keeping a cat are around $1029, food accounting
for $576 per annum.
Pet food sales in Australia are reported to be around $3.77
billion annually, compared to the $100 billion Australian's spend
on human food and beverages.
Increased urbanisation and the rise of apartment accommodation
is considered to be a major impediment to pet ownership looking
Dogs remain Australia's most popular pet with an estimated 4.75
million dogs now kept by around 38% of Australian households. This
compares with cats, the country's second most popular pet, with some 3.9
million being part of 29% of households. While the report states
that there has been a decline in pet ownership over recent years, this is
attributed to less pet birds and fish being kept with dogs and cats
remaining Australia's most popular pets.
Perhaps not surprisingly, when questioned, owners of both cats and dogs
said that 'companionship' was the most common reason for wanting a pet.
Although once our warm, cuddly companions become settled into our
households, the majority of owners report that their pets are a 'member
of the family', rather than simply a 'companion'. This is reflected in
two-thirds of all dogs being kept both indoors and outdoors, with smaller
dogs (less than 10 kg) more likely to be indoors-only dogs. This close
bond between pets and their families also helps explain many aspects of
changed attitudes and behaviours in feeding and care for our pets
identified in the report, with growth in 'premium' pet foods, pet treats,
veterinary services, pet insurance, pet grooming and leisure services.
The report explores a range of issues around pet ownership including
costs, barriers and motivations for owning pets. It seems that many
of us are now actively managing our pet owner responsibilities, with
respondents advising that they are experiencing fewer difficulties in
taking pets on holidays with them, cleaning up after them, grooming and
exercising them regularly. This may reflect the development of an
expanded range and higher levels of service delivery in pet related
products and services.
Australians now spend around $1475 per year to keep a dog and some $1029
per year for a cat. Dog owners report they spend an average of $622 on
food with vet fees being the next biggest expense. Food is also the
biggest expense of owning a cat ($576 p.a), again followed by veterinary
services. All up, Australians are now reported to spend some $3.77
billion on food for dogs and cats, still a long way short of the $100
billion-plus that represents the Australian (human) food and beverage
processing annual turnover 1.
"The shift in expenditure to more premium pet foods stems from the
anthropomorphisation (or 'humanisation') of pets as they become much more
a part of our families. In nations like Australia which have higher
standards of living, higher order needs such as health and wellness are
much more of a focus for the human population, and this is being relayed
to our pets."
(Pet Ownership in Australia 2016 Report AMA)
While it is expected that pet populations will remain fairly stable over
coming years, urbanisation and the rise of apartment living is currently
seen as the biggest impediment to pet ownership in Australia,
particularly body- corporate rules that exclude pets in multi-dwelling
developments. Perhaps one of the most interesting findings of the report
is that people from non-English speaking backgrounds who have
immigrated to Australia are more likely to want to own a pet and this is
reflected in their having a higher level of intent to purchase a pet in
the coming year. Given the widely recognised benefits of owning and
caring for pets, this recent report reflects the changing nature of
responsible pet ownership within our evolving communities.
This article is for general information only
This information is provided by the PFIAA as general information only.
For advice and information concerning treatment and feeding your
individual pet, we recommend that you seek the advice of your