Our Real Love of Pets

Our Real Love of Pets A look at the ever-growing role pets are playing in Australian families, as well as the cost and benefits of ownership.

5 Dec 2018

No matter which furry or feathered friends hold a special place in our hearts, it’s clear that we are willing to go above and beyond for our pets. In fact, we’re spending an average of 37 hours per week of quality time with our pets – that’s equivalent to a third (33.0%) of all waking hours!

The Real Pets Survey is the fifteenth chapter in national series looking at the changing values and concerns that affect us. This instalment takes the opportunity to explore the relationship that Aussies have with their pets, how this compares with our friends and (other) family members, and how far we are willing to go to show them love.

Deck the paws

It seems we are loving our pets more than ever and we’re willing to go through the snow, rain, hail or shine to show them our affection. This coming Christmas holiday season, we are expected to spend $145 million on pet presents, which is only one part of a staggering $8.1 billion spent across the year for food, toys and other expenses.

Of course, our adoration for our animal companions runs all year round and is on par with our feelings for our own families. Over eight in ten (82.2%) of us love our pets just as much as we love our family, with the large majority agreeing that pets are just as integral to the family unit as our partners and children (87.1%). Our pets’ major milestones are recognised with the same festivities as those of our human friends and family. So much so, that we spend $119 million annually on birthday presents for our pets and willing to spend an average $185 per pet saying farewell during pet funerals, which tallies up to approximately $1.1 billion Australia-wide.

Pet tech and pupparazi

Unsurprisingly, we also love to record our pets and keep a leash on their whereabouts. Us pet owners take an average of ten pet pictures each month, saving around 118 happy snaps on our phones at any one time. Across the country, the total number of photos saved on phones adds up to 700 million and we’re taking approximately 722 million pictures per year! Amongst those of us who post pictures to social media, close to three in five (56.5%) say we post more photos of our pets than our human family.

The combination of pets and technology also extends to our holiday purchases. Some of us are using wearable tracking devices to keep an eye on of our pets’ movements, and of those who are, we’re spending an average of $147 on wearable devices across Australia, or approximately $38 million annually.

Pets keep us feline fine

It’s common for us pet owners to feel that our furry friends offer positive physical, mental and emotional support. Nearly all of us say that having pets makes us happier on a day-to-day basis, particularly when it comes to reducing stress levels and making us feel less lonely, with almost eight in ten (79.6%) of us declaring our family lives are less stressful thanks to our pets.

The majority of us are keen to return the favour by making our pets’ health a top priority, with almost all (98.9%) of us feeling that it’s important to keep our pets physically healthy. This is true even to the extent that over half (54.5%) of us are more likely to put more effort into ensuring our pets stay healthy than ourselves, and half (50.4%) are more likely to take our pets to the vet than we are to go to the GP.

Family and fur babies

Three in ten (30.5%) of us with either partners or children say we tend to prefer the company of our pets over the company of our other family members. While this may seem like it could tear families apart, on the contrary, almost all (90.4%) of us agree that ‘fur babies’ can bring a family closer together and help us spend more quality time together (74.7%).

For those of us who are currently single or unpartnered, our relationship with our pets is unconditional. More than two in five (43.7%) of us say owning a pet substitutes in some way for having a partner. And to all potential future partners: the majority (85.2%) of us would consider it a deal breaker if a potential significant other didn’t like or want our pets, with almost three fifths (56.5%) saying this is definitely a deal breaker.

There are countless opportunties to give a pet a loving home for those animal devotees looking to welcome a new family member. Almost nine in ten (88.1%) of us pet owners say we would be happy to adopt a rescue animal. Moreover, nearly all of us think our fellow friends should be encouraged to adopt more rescue animals (96.2%) and to give support to animal rescue organisations and finding animals suitable homes (94.6%).

Whether we’re celebrating our best friend’s birthday, taking animal pics for our social channels, or simply enjoying some quality time on the couch, it’s evident that Australia is a pet-loving nation. As any of us pet owners will agree, there are countless joys and benefits that come with having pets as part our families and everyday lives.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of research about the issues that most affect and impact us, coming soon.

Download full research report