While 69 per cent of Australians now own a pet, the biggest barriers to further growth are housing constraints and costs.

The statistics, revealed in Animal Medicines Australia’s (AMA) latest Pets in Australia study, found that there are an estimated 28.7 million pets in Australia, with many of these acquired during Covid.

Despite the large number, the main growth prohibitors are housing constraints and cost, particularly for renters and apartment dwellers, who point to landlords, body corporate, and strata laws as reasoning behind not bringing a pet into their lives.

Ben Stapley, CEO of AMA, said to ensure as many Australians as possible can have access to the benefits associated with pet ownership, they 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.

“We need to encourage informed and 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.”

The reasons behind acquiring a pet are for benefits such as companionship, rescuing animals, relaxation, and mental health, with 85 per cent of owners stating their pet had a positive impact on their physical and mental wellbeing.

“The research identified four distinct segments of pet owners. The largest cohort (30 per cent) are driven by affordability and convenience, meaning they are less likely to spend money on non-essential items. Others (25 per cent) – many of whom are retirees and empty nesters – are looking for simplicity and reliability to maintain a happy and well cared animal companion.”

Dogs and cats have led the growth in pet ownership, with almost half of all households having at least one dog and a third of all households having at least one cat.

To stay up to date on the latest industry headlines, sign up to the Pet Industry News e-newsletter.