There are dozens of great reasons why Australians choose to adopt or own pets.

In fact, a recent national study showed that 90% of Australian pet owners believe their pet has a positive impact on their lives, with over 60% referring to their pet as part of the family.

Amongst the households who do not own pets, two-thirds actually say they would have a pet if not for landlord, strata or body corporate rules.

President of Animal Medicines Australia, Andrew Mason tells us why so many Australians love their pets. 

“They are companions for relaxation, for physical activity or for teaching our children responsibility.

“They provide humour, fun and a sense of purpose.

“As assistance animals they help visually impaired people maintain independent, fulfilling lives and assist the ill and elderly manage anxiety and pain. Companion animals also play an important role in treatment of mental health, particularly for returned soldiers and first responders.

“Assistance dogs provide support and help to rebuild trust and connections with family and the wider community.”

The survey found that across all Australian households there are: 

  • 5.1 million dogs (40% of pets)
  • 3.8 million cats (27%)
  • 11.3 million fish (11%)
  • 5.6 million birds (9%)
  • 614,000 small mammals (3% with Guinea Pigs being the most popular, probably due to the ban on bunnies)
  • 364,000 reptiles (2%)
  • And 1.8 million ‘other’ pets including horses, goats, cows, alpacas and hermit crabs (2%)

This amazingly equates to 28.5 million pets among the 5.9 million pet owners surveyed – animals outnumber owners!

The popularity of pure-bred dogs has decreased since 2016, with a spike in all things small and fluffy. Most popular of these dog breeds are the Maltese crossed Shih Tzu and Cavoodles (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel crossed with Poodles). This reinforces the conclusion that people are no longer choosing dogs based on breed or prestige but rather for their effect on the environment. 

Even the more ‘reserved’ of pets, such as tortoises, have increased from 15% in 2016 to 44% in 2019. The low maintenance may appeal to the busy lifestyle, but owners still find comfort in caring for another living creature and seeing personalities develop. Most reptile owners report keeping their pets for up to six years. 

“My pets have changed my life in a more positive way because it has made me less selfish, so that I think of someone other than myself.”- Cat, dog and small mammal owner, Queensland

Related tag: Pet Cemetery

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