Pet ownership in Australia

The Animal Health Alliance of Australia has released a new report on pet ownership trends and buying behaviour, and outlines the value of the Australian pet care industry to the Australian economy.

Pet Ownership in Australia 2013, is based on the findings of a survey of 1,734 people, of which 1,089 were pet owners. The research was commissioned by the Alliance and conducted by Galaxy Research. The data was weighted by region to reflect the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics household estimates.

The report follows the most recent pet population estimates in 2009, published by the Australian Companion Animal Council (ACAC) in 2010.

According to the Alliance’s CEO, Duncan Bremner, the robust methodology and analysis provides accurate estimates for pet numbers and detailed insights on pet ownership and buying behaviour.

"Our statistics are based on survey findings, rather than market analysis and data modelling. The result is a single reference point for Australia’s pet care industry for facts, figures and trends on pet ownership, and market insights on pet care products and services," he said.

In 2013 there are estimated to be more than 25 million pets in Australia, with nearly 5 million of Australia’s 7.6 million households being home to pets. At 63% of households, Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world.

Dogs are the most common pet, with 39% of households owning a dog. There are estimated to be 4.2 million pet dogs in Australia; 19 dogs for every 100 people. Cats come next with 29% of households owning a cat, an estimated 3.3 million pet cats in Australia and 15 cats for every 100 people.

Fish are the most numerous pet type, with a total population of 10.7 million. The number of birds is estimated to be 4.8 million, and around 2.2 other pets including small mammals and reptiles. Almost half of all Australians would either like to get a pet or get another pet. More than 1.1 million Australian households are planning to get a companion animal in 2013.

"It’s no surprise that companionship is the driving reason behind pet ownership. Pets play an important role in the everyday lives of millions of Australians, with most considering them to be members of the family," said Duncan. According to the report, advances in healthcare products for animals have enabled people to keep their pets free of fleas, ticks and internal parasites. And there are more dogs and cats living inside the home, with 92% of cats and 76% of dogs kept exclusively or partly indoors.

The popularity of pet insurance is increasing, particularly among younger pet owners. Among Gen Y pet owners, 20% have insurance for their cats and 27% for their dogs. Among the Baby Boomers, however, only 12% have insurance for their dogs and just 9% for cats.

The pet care industry in Australia is estimated to be worth $8.0 billion annually with food being the biggest area of expenditure, followed by veterinary services.

The Alliance plans to undertake the survey and publish updated versions of the report every three years.

The report is also informed by data and information sourced from internationally recognised research and consulting firms, Australian Government departments, international pet industry bodies, and industry associations.

The report is available for AVA members at a 15% discount, using the promotional code: AVA913. Go to the website – www.petsinaustralia.com.au – for more information, purchasing options or to download a free summary.

Rena Richmond
Media Relations Manager

This article appeared in the November 2013 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal

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