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Pet Ownership Statistics from the UK and Beyond

Furbuddies have been our loyal companions and —arguably— the most colourful addition to our homes for many years. Owning a pet has been on an upward trend, further accelerated by the pandemic breakout, resulting in heartwarming stories and proving to be a great help in coping with the stress of lockdowns. Check out our pet ownership statistics across the UK and beyond to learn more about the surge, changing trends, and growing pet supplies market.

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Pet Ownership Statistics Across the UK: Highlights

General Pet Ownership Statistics

1. About 59% of all households in the UK have pets.

PFMA’s annual report further revealed that dogs still make the nation’s favourite pets—with the percentage of households with dogs surpassing one-third. Cats are the second most owned pets in the country and have a population almost as high as dogs, 12.2 million and 12.5 million, respectively. Rabbits and indoor birds follow after in the most popular pets list, with both accounting for 2% of households.


2. The number of owned cats increased by over 600,000 in a year.

Cat owner statistics range from 20% of households in Scotland to 32% in Wales—noting England’s significant spike from 23% to 27%. The average number of cats per household, however, decreased from 1.6 to 1.5: now only 35% of cat-owned households have more than one. For comparison, the latest average number of dogs per household is 1.4.

(Cats Report UK, PFMA)

3. Golden Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the country.

It comes as no surprise given their easy-going and calm nature. Their playful disposition and stamina combined with their affable attitude make Goldens good companions and service dogs who can help in search and rescue or disability assistance.


4. Over 4,000 licenced dangerous wild animals are kept privately across Britain.

Exotic pet ownership statistics in the UK record a significant hike in the number of wild animals kept privately, including a 94% surge in venomous snakes, 57% in wild cats, and an over 2,000% increase in scorpions, as revealed by Dr Mark Jones, Born Free’s Head of Policy. He underlines that these figures —taken from DWA licence data for over 20 years— are likely to represent only a portion of the actual exotic pet population, with likely a lot more kept illegally.

(Born Free)

5. 16% of pet owners think owning a pet makes them stressed.

This compares to 95% happy owners. The statistics are significantly higher for owning a dog (96%) and a cat (94%) than rabbits (90%). Rabbit ownership also proved to be the most stressful with 22% of rabbit owners reporting being stressed about their pets, compared to 16% of dog owners and 15% of cat owners.

(PDSA Paw Report)

6. 3.2 million households have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic.

ThePet Food Manufacturers’ Association announced this number in Mach, 2021. PFMA says pet owners demographics across the UK reveal that people aged between 16 and 34 drive the increase, making up more than half of new owners. Dogs and cats remained firm as the people’s favourite.


7. 74% of new owners said their pet helped their mental health while coping with the pandemic.

While the lockdown-motivated pets ownership surge proved to have positive outcomes, many admitted to having underestimated the challenges a pet will bring about. Over one-third of those surveyed likened it to having a baby, while about a fifth of families with children said training their pet has been a real challenge. Pet ownership statistics from PFMA’s 2021 report further revealed that 5% of those new owners during the pandemic had already given their pets up within about a year.


8. The cat buying trend is on the rise compared to other ways of getting one.

Nation-wide lockdowns fueled cat ownership alongside that of dogs. Among the new cat owners, it is observed that the percentage of cats being adopted is reducing while the rate of those being purchased is on the rise. Cat ownership statistics also note a surge in obtaining a cat from overseas, with 5% of got cats coming from charities or breeders residing abroad.

(Cats Report UK)

9. More than one-third of dog owners get their dogs from breeders.

Dog ownership in the UK is largely dependent on breeders of one specific breed. It is further revealed that 21% obtained their dogs from private sellers, while 17% adopted from rehoming centres or shelters.


10. The Dog Trust had experienced a 35% increase in calls about people handing over their dogs.

The Trust also revealed that there has been a 55% increase in emails to the charity regarding giving up their dogs, on top of the 128% increase in traffic to “giving up your dog” pages on their website. The chief executive Owen Sharp said it was “no surprise” to them following the surge in pet adoption, as evidenced by dog ownership statistics from the UK amid the pandemic. Besides pets being abandoned, the “pandemic puppies” trend also triggered a shortage of pet foods and prices to skyrocket, which in turn fueled a trend of unethical breeding and dog thefts.

(The Guardian)

11. 42% of pandemic dog owners are hoping to bring their dogs to the office.

A survey of 1,003 employees revealed that almost half of the respondents would like to bring their dogs to the workplace with them. An animal welfare expert Bill Lambert believes workplaces will have a role in recognising changing lifestyles of the public during the lockdowns.
Pet ownership stats from another survey spanning 2,001 owners found that over one-third of respondents were worried about leaving their dog at home and about coping without them after spending so much time together during the lockdown—while 28% were worried their dog will not get enough care or attention.

(The Guardian)

12. 18% of dogs acquired after March 2020 have shown signs of distress when left alone.

Then, 5% of dog owners surveyed reported new signs of distress when their pets are left alone, according to pet ownership stats, a further 7% said their dogs were vocal about bypassers at the window, and 3% had violent tendencies toward other dogs.
The figures are a lot more concerning for dogs acquired after March 2020—these dogs may have not experienced being left alone for long durations before. It’s revealed that 39% would jump on people, 11% would growl or bite other dogs, and 15% would show signs of fear.

(PDSA Paw Report)

Stats on Rescue, Rehoming, and Animal Welfare in Britain

13. 75% of people said their rescue dog helped them cope with lockdowns.

UK pet ownership statistics show that the general trend of acquiring pets is to purchase, many turned to shelters and charities like Battersea to adopt—which added over 130,000 followers to their social media channels and reached over 30 million viewers through their ads.

(Battersea Annual Report)

14. On average, someone in England and Wales dials RSPCA for an accident every 30 seconds.

The Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the nation’s largest animal welfare charity, gets calls every 30 seconds. Their 273 inspectors alongside 90 animal rescue officers investigate over 185,000 incidents annually.


15. Only 20% of owners in Britain got their pets from a shelter.

According to YouGov’s statistics on pet ownership in the UK, just one in every five households got their pets from animal charities or rescues. There’s a significant discrepancy between the values people hold and the reality, though: 65% believe that people should be adopting pets rather than purchasing them while adoption rates are quite poor.


16. Adopting pets from rescue centres is most common among cat owners at 37%.

Though it’s been on a downward trend, pet ownership statistics in the UK show that adoption from shelters is still highest among cat owners, compared to the dog (17%) and rabbit (16%) adoption rates. A further 16% of cat and 19% of rabbit owners obtained their pets from a friend, relative, or neighbour. There is a significant increase in dog owners who purchased their pets from a breeder after the pandemic started, from 3% to 8%.

(PDSA Paw Report)

17. There’s an over 100% year-on-year increase in adoption rates from Battersea.

A total of 86 dogs and 69 cats were adopted from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home shelter from the week starting Monday 16th in 2020—it’s a significant increase compared to the same time a year before, where 42 dogs and 29 cats were adopted.


Statistics on Pet Ownership Expenditure

18. Expenditure on pets amounted to £7.8 billion in 2020.

Pet expenditure has been on the rise for about 20 years except for a couple of instances, and between 2019 and 2020, the highest surge since 2014 was recorded. Among the most expensive type of spending was veterinary and other pet services, accounting for almost £4 billion of the overall spending.

(Braemar Finance)

19. Pet food has the largest market value in the UK’s pet care industry.

The pet food industry amounted to £2.9 billion in 2020, while the value of the veterinary services stood at £2.1 billion, followed by accessories at £0.9 billion, and grooming at £0.3 billion. Pet statistics on expenditure naturally cite the dog food market as most profitable, which was worth around £1.4 billion, as dog ownership is much more common than other pets.


20. Online pet product sales make up 30% of the US pet care market. 

Purely online retailers like Amazon or Chewy dominate this industry-shaping shift, with brick-and-mortar stores that developed an online counterpart, such as Walmart or Petco.
23% of Millennial and Gen Z owners said being able to buy basic things like cat litter trays or dog leashes online saves them time on pet care, with a further 21% saying it allows them to spend more quality time with their pets.

(Pet Food Processing)

21. Almost half of the pet owners globally relied on personal recommendations while deciding on pet products.

Pet owners statistics reveal that people mostly follow the recommendations coming from their friends and relatives when it comes to shopping for pet supplies. In terms of digital engagement, most owners (40%) scan through independent customer reviews, while only 20% check brand social media accounts.


22. Cost of pet insurance increases by 12% per year depending on the pet’s age.

Besides breed, age is among the main indicator of the price of pet insurance, for which prices vary from £23 to £79 depending on age. The most significant increase (55%) happens between the ages 8 and 9.
The typical package covers all the bases, including vet fees, advertising costs if it’s lost, and pet travel coverage.


23. Dog owners are more likely to insure their pets than their feline counterparts.

Pet ownership statistics from YouGov’s data show that 30% of Britons have their dogs insured, compared to 20% of cat owners who opt for pet insurance. The difference, though, is the highest among the German public: 43% of dog owners pay for protection, while only 12% do so for their cats. The highest rates of protection were seen in Sweden at 53% and 46%, respectively.


24. The global pet-sitting market is expected to have a CAGR of 8% between 2020 and 2027.

This is largely driven by the rising number of pets owners across the US and Europe, coupled with the increased number of leisure travellers. There’s also a growing tendency to pick up house-sitting to incur some income among retired and self-employed, with approximately 56% of house sitters on England’s being older than 60.

(Grand View Research)

Pet Ownership Statistics by Country

25. The US has the highest population of cats and dogs.

With just under 70 million dogs and 74 million cats, the US homes the highest amount of pets. China and Russia, alongside the States, are the only countries with a cat population higher than that of dogs.

(Pet Secure)

26. Germany has the highest dog population within the EU.

With a population of over 10 million, Germany has the most dogs in Europe, followed by Italy with over 8 million, and Poland and France with over 7 million. Estonia had the least number of dogs with a population of 235,000. Pet ownership statistics across Europe note a significant increase between the years 2010 and 2019, in which pet-owning households grew by 15 million.


27. With over £180 per pet, Australasia is the region with the highest expenditure.

The region, encompassing Australia, New Zealand, and neighbouring islands, spends the most money on pets, surpassing North America and Western Europe. The highest compound annual growth rate over 2014-19 was set by the Asia Pacific while the biggest growth happened in North America in 2020.

(Euro Monitor)

28. Idaho is the state with the highest number of households with dogs in the US.

Over 58% of all households in Idaho have at least one dog, followed by Montana at 61.9% and Arkansas at 51.6%. Pet ownership statistics by state further reveal that even in the region with most cats, the ratio of households owning one remains lower than dogs, at 44.6% in Vermont.

(24/7 Wall St, 24/7 Wall St)

29. Pet ownership in China has increased by 300% since 2013.

The understanding of owning or caring for pets developed throughout the West has emerged as a relatively new trend in China. Though experts agree that dogs were first domesticated within East Asia, throughout most of China’s history, utility defined the relationship between humans and pets.
With the emergence of the new and affluent middle class, pet ownership statistics in China point to soaring ownership in recent years. The overall pet economy has grown significantly since 2013 by a staggering 400%.

(China Business Review)

30. 47% of exotic pet purchasers do little to no research before acquiring the animal.

Owning exotic animals as pets has been a growing global trend, which experts see as concerning. One specific study on the increasing number of otters kept as pets revealed that social media significantly fueled the demand. Coupled with Covid-19 complications, it created significant problems in some countries.
Pet ownership statistics in the Philippines are expected to show a rise in exotic pets, alongside illegal wildlife trade as the patrols were reduced by 92% due to lockdowns. Now officials worry that this would threaten not only the country’s wildlife but the public health and safety.

(World Animal Protection, Business World Online)

31. 42% of Japanese people who intend to purchase exotic animals are likely to do so within 12 months.

Research commissioned by WWF Japan and TRAFFIC revealed that the sense of Iyashi (mental healing properties) and Kawaii (cuteness) are the most significant motivations which lead people to buy exotic animals, most popularly parrots, hedgehogs, and exotic rodents.
Keeping exotic animals privately is a rising trend globally, with American pet ownership statistics revealing that the US still has the highest volume.

(Globe Scan)

Dolce Finale

As evidenced by pet ownership statistics from the UK and around the world, ownership rates are on the rise but it has been far from a healthy increase. The surge in demand has led to several negative outcomes such as deteriorating behaviour in pets or an increasing illegal pet trade. Nevertheless, having a furry companion at home has made lockdowns a lot more bearable.

Sources: PFMA, Cats Report UK, PFMA, YouGov, Born Free, Statista, BBC, Statista, The Guardian, The Guardian, PDSA, Battersea Annual Report, RSPCA, YouGov, Independent, Braemar Finance, Pet Food Processing, Euromonitor, Finder, YouGov, Grand View Research, Pet Secure, Statista, 24/7 Wall St, 24/7 Wall St, China Business Review, World Animal Protection, Business World Online, Animal Wised, Wales Online, Statista, Mappr, Life Science Leader


How many dogs are allowed per household in the UK?

There is no upper limit on the number of dogs allowed in the household within the UK. Breeders though need to obtain a Council Licence. (Animal Wised)

Why are puppies so expensive in the UK?

With the pandemic-fueled surge in dog ownership in the UK, the prices of puppies more than doubled in 2020, reaching an average of £1,875, according to pet statistics. Experts say the pandemic breakout led to an imbalance between supply and demand for pets, with prospective owners willing to pay more than ever. (Wales Online)

How many people own cats?

27% of households in the UK have cats. This number has grown by 600,000 in a year, with Wales being the region with the highest number of households with a cat at 32%. (Cats Report UK, PFMA)

What percentage of Millennials own a pet?

Millennial pet ownership statistics in the US, the country with the highest ownership rate, represents the biggest share across generations at 32%, followed by Baby Boomers at 27% and Gen X at 24%. (Statista)

How many people own dogs?

One-third of all households across Britain have a dog—which is also the most popular animal to keep as pets across the nation. Golden Retriever is the most popular breed, followed by Labrador Retriever and Border Collie. (PFMA, YouGov)

What country has the highest rate of pet ownership?

The US has the highest rate of ownership of dogs and cats, with more than half of the citizens having a dog or cat in the household, according to US pet ownership statistics. (Mappr)

Has pet ownership increased?

The worldwide lockdowns to curb the Covid-19 impact have led to an increase in pet ownership, a trend which is observed in many parts of the world including North America, the UK, and Europe. 11.3 million Americans obtained a new pet during the pandemic, while 3.2 million households in the UK had a furry addition to their family. (Life Science Leader, BBC)

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