Victorian Government's Initiative in Pet Census

24 Jan 2024

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) commends the Victorian Government for taking a proactive stance in addressing data gaps in pet ownership through the recently released key findings from the state-wide pet census (the Census).

The Census aimed to obtain estimates of the overall pet population and measure awareness, attitudes, and behaviours related to pet ownership. 

AVA recognizes the importance of such data, emphasizing its role in shaping education, policy, and program initiatives for improved pet ownership practices. 


  1. Demographic Insights:

4.4 million pets enrich 1.4 million Victorian households where dogs (41%) and cats (24%) continue to be cherished companions and mostly kept inside the house. 

  1. Positive Impact of Pet Ownership:

This initiative highlights the profound positive impact of pets on the lives of most Victorians. 

A staggering 98% of pet owners reported a positive impact on their lives and 58% of adult Victorians had a pet at the time of the survey.  The death of a pet and resulting emotional impact (42%) the greatest drawback, emphasising the significant bond people have with their pets. 

Pets are valued for companionship/love (79%) and improved mental health/emotional support (57%), and the majority of dog owners (68%) walked their dog at least once a day. 

It underscores the essential role pets play in the wellness of people.

  1. Financial Aspects of Pet Ownership:

The majority of pet owners felt it was easy on balance to look after their pets. 

Veterinarians provide most of the services required to ensure their health and well-being of pets where veterinary services and pharmaceuticals account for 27% of the cost of pet ownership.  Food was the largest expenditure (47%).  

Nearly all dogs and cat owners reported their pets as having been vaccinated and microchipped and most were desexed, which are critical veterinary services for the prevention of animal welfare. Veterinarians are also the most common source of information outside of search engines. 

  1. Low Awareness of Legal Requirements:

Awareness and understanding of legal requirements around pet ownership were found to be relatively low. 


Conclusion by the AVA: 

The AVA recognizes the significance of the Victorian Government's commitment to addressing data gaps in pet ownership. The findings from the Census provide a foundation for informed decision-making. 

Acknowledging the positive impact of pets and recognizing the crucial role of the private veterinary profession will contribute significantly to the well-being of pets and most people. 

The AVA believes that support of veterinary care is needed to make it available for all animals, which heavily impacts the well-being of people.