Our pets form an important component of most Australians’ lives. Whether for companionship, assistance, teaching responsibility, or the associated physical and mental health benefits, our relationship with our pets continues to change and evolve.
This report continues our triennial series of reports investigating the pet ownership experiences of Australians. It finds that an estimated 28.7 million pets are now calling home to around 6.9 million households. Many are first time pet owners, having brought their pet home during the pandemic.
From 2020 to 2022, pet ownership reached new heights in Australia as new owners took advantage of the opportunity afforded by flexible work from requirements imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As our community emerges from the pandemic, new pressures and challenges are also emerging. Natural disasters, increasing living costs, inflation, access to housing and other issues are placing pressure on many pet owners. In some circumstances, this can lead to difficult decisions to find alternate care arrangements for a beloved pet.
This data paints a portrait of people who are stretched thin and stressed out, having to give up their pets and suggests a need for supporting services to help keep pet owners with their animals through difficult times, particularly given the findings regarding the mental health benefits of companion animals.
To ensure that as many Australians as possible can access the myriad benefits associated with pet ownership, we seek a policy environment that facilitates responsible pet ownership practices. This could be achieved by improving strata laws, providing support for vulnerable pet owners, or through greater national consistency in companion animal policy settings. This research is intended to inform thoughtful decision-making by governments, policymakers and others when considering issues that impact Australia’s estimated 28.7 million pets in 6.9 million households.
By better understanding the experiences of pet owners, ownership drivers and challenges governments and industries can create better, more responsive systems and processes to support pet owners and promote enduring, positive, responsible and beneficial pet ownership experiences.
AMA thanks and acknowledges the Australian Veterinary Association and the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia for working with us on the report to share these insights with the community.
Download the full report below.