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Pampered Pooches and Pets Cost Aussies $28 Billion a year

24 January 2016 

Pets play a significant role in our lives, and new research released today by Suncorp Bank has revealed they also have a significant impact on our wallets — to the tune of $28 billion a year.

The Suncorp Bank Cost of Pets report, the latest in Suncorp Bank’s Cost of Living Series, found Australian pet owners (18-64 years) spend $5,000 per year, on healthcare, accessories and other services on their furry (or feathered, or scaly or crawly) family members.

When you incorporate food, estimated by the Animal Health Alliance to cost $3 billion1 a year, Australian pets owners are faced with a hefty outlay of at least $450 per month.

Suncorp Bank Regional Manager, Damian Hearne, said he believed the average $450 monthly expense would surprise the majority of pet owners.

“In recent years, the Aussie pet has certainly become more like a furry family member than an animal companion, and has come to enjoy the finer things in life like gourmet food, pamper packages, pet cafes and designer garments and accessories,” Mr Hearne said.

“Despite the high costs associated with pet ownership, the report found more than 25 per cent of owners failed to factor these expenses into their household budgets.

“Planning and budgeting for pet expenses will not only help in managing the day-to-day costs, it will alleviate the financial stress when those unexpected expenses, like an emergency vet visit, arise.”

The Cost of Pets survey found that ensuring pet health, including preventative medication and vet bills, was by far the greatest expense, costing the average owner more than $2,000 per year.

“Pet Insurance was the second biggest expense, equal to the average households’ pet food bill ($600 per year), followed closely by pet-prompted home maintenance including chewed electrical cords, scratched walls and damaged gardens ($550 per year),” Mr Hearne said.

“The survey also revealed a resurgence of dog and cats as the preferred family pet, with 70 per cent of respondents owning a dog and 47 per cent a cat. This is a significant difference to the early nineties when birds and fish claimed top spots2 .”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that nearly 63 per cent of Australian households have at least one pet3 , one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world.

Other findings from the report:

  • One in five respondents paid more than $700 for their pet, and nearly 10 per cent spent more than $1,000, yet 80 per cent of respondents don’t have pet insurance.
  • Nearly 40 per cent of respondents spend up to $250 a year on clothing and accessories for their pet.
  • 16 per cent of respondents allocate at least one in six dollars to ‘pet costs’. 
  • The average Australian pet owner incurred a monthly $160 medical or veterinary expense, yet nearly 25 per cent of pet owners don’t account for ‘pet costs’ in their household budget  
  • One in five dog and cat owners do not purchase preventative medications, such as vaccinations, or worm and flea treatments, for their pets

Fur Family Favouritism

  • The Cost of Pets revealed dogs remain the nation’s most favoured pet, with 70 per cent of pet owners having a pooch. Nationally, Labradors and Golden Retrievers remain the most popular breed, closely followed by Terriers and Shih Tzus.
  • Cats retain a strong hold on the second spot at 47 per cent, followed by fish (26 per cent), birds (20 per cent) and guinea pigs, mice and rabbits (10 per cent).
  • The “furry favourites” might be making way for non-traditional animals. The Cost of Pets found 9 per cent of households called poultry pets, 6.3 per cent voluntarily shared their home with snakes and lizards and 3.5 per cent were happy to house-share with spiders and unusual insects.

Regional Findings

  • Victoria is home to the nation’s biggest spenders, outlaying 55 per cent more than the national average at $7,800 per year. Northern Territory residents spend $6,365 on average, followed by Canberra residents who spend $5,740 on average. South Australians were by far the most frugal, spending just $3,000 on their pets, 40 per cent less than the national average.
  • Victorians are Australia’s biggest ‘pet pamperers’, spending $2,200 a year on professional grooming, clothing, accessories and activities for their pets. Territorians were second, spending $1,974 a year and Canberrans third on $1,658. Tasmanians were most restrained, spending just half the national average on $750.
  • Victoria outspends the rest of the country on pet healthcare, their $2,730 annual outlay evenly split between planned and unplanned treatments. And, again, second and third biggest spenders respectively were Western Australia ($1,999) and the ACT ($1,915), with Tasmanians holding the purse strings the tightest ($1,257).

Media Inquiries: Ashleigh Paterson 07 3135 2562 or 0407 925 665

About Suncorp: Suncorp Group includes leading general insurance, banking, life insurance and superannuation brands in Australia and New Zealand. The Group has 14,500 employees and relationships with nine million customers. Suncorp Group Limited is a Top 20 ASX-listed company with $94 billion in assets. Suncorp Bank is Australia’s leading regional bank servicing more than one million personal, SME and agribusiness customers.

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