New research released by Animal Medicines Australia in October 2019 confirms there are now 28.5 million pets in Australia. That’s more pets than people living in Australia.
(because as at December 2019 our people population was 25.4 million people, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics).
It’s a whopping stat that equates to 61% of Australian households owning a pet. And it puts pet ownership in Australia ahead of the USA (57%) and the UK (40%).
What type of pets do we own in Australia?
5.1 million dogs (40% of households)
3.8 million cats (27% of households)
11.3 million fish (I didn’t pick that)
5.6 million birds (who knew?!)
2.8 million other pets (think horses, rabbits, guinea pigs and reptiles)
What’s the most popular pet?
Okay, okay, it’s not a popularity contest but I was interested to know which pet rules the roost.
With 40% of Australian households include at least one dog, it makes canines the most popular type of pet. Cats are second place within 27% of households, followed by fish within 11% of households.
The stats are one thing, but what does this really tell us?
Well according to Animal Medicines Australia, dog and cat owners tend to regard their pets as ‘fur babies’. Over 60% of dog and cat owners refer to their pet as a member of the family and most spend an average of 3-4 hours with their pets every day.
Around half of all dog and cat owners allow their pets to share their beds (there is no shame, own it), while more than two-thirds refer to themselves as a ‘parent’, purchase gifts for their pets on special occasions and leave heating, cooling, lights or a TV on for their pets when they go out. And, more than 25% of owners take their pets on holidays or road trips.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Many pet owners have adopted ‘pet parenting’ behaviours that mimic traditional parent-child relationships. Around two-thirds speak to their pets as though they understand the words and the proportion of owners who do so increases with each generation.
These pets also often given ‘human’ names with Max, Charlie and Bella among the most popular names for dogs, and Chloe, Bella and Felix among the most popular cat names.
When it comes to some of the more ‘kooky’ behaviours, there is a stark generational divide. Only 8% of owners aged 39 years+ have bought costumes for their pets, compared to 21% under 39 years old.
And about one in 10 owners under age 40 admit they have called their pets while away from home, thrown a birthday party, opened a social media account or installed home monitoring cameras (only about 2% of older owners have done the same…LOL).
What drives our love affair with our Pets?
According to the study, dog and cat pet owners describe the relationship with their pet being a close companion and a beloved family member. Often, pets are our best friends and faithful companions, with many survey respondents mentioning being unable to imagine life without their pets - describing the joy of spending time with their pets, playing with them, creating memories and keeping life interesting.
Survey participants also describe the positive impact of pet ownership on both their physical and mental health. This experience is supported by academic research which outlines the benefits of pet ownership on owner health including cardiovascular health, physical fitness, immune system development, psychological health and child development, as well as benefits of pets acting as social enablers.
Paws & Relax
Without a doubt our pets are a calming influence, with an incredible ability to promote optimism within us (even on days when we’re as flat as a pancake) and bring a sense of purpose to our lives. At Active Creatures, we're delighted to see that dogs and cats remain such an integral part of the family unit.
To read more, download the study here.