A survey conducted by Mintel has revealed that pet ownership in the UK is in decline. There are several reasons for pets falling out of favour and none of them have anything to do with the popularity of the animals! We remain a nation of animal lovers but the way we live is changing dramatically.
Many modern homes are incredibly small. To make matters worse, the sky-high property prices in some areas, notably London, has meant that many people are forced to live in small flats and shared accommodation. With no room to swing a cat, let alone to accommodate a dog, these tiny homes rule out pet ownership for those who live in them.
High property prices have meant that more and more people are forced to rent rather than buy their home. As most landlords prohibit pets, there are a growing number of people who can’t have an animal no matter how much they might want one.
Due to financial constraints and the desire to build a career, couples are tending to marry later in life and are delaying starting a family. This means that there are many households where nobody is at home during the day to look after any pets. There are also more single person households than ever before. Singletons find it harder to cover the cost of pet ownership such as paying for pet food and have no backup when it comes to caring for an animal. They are also more likely to be in rented accommodation.
To make matters worse, we have an ageing population. Older people are less likely to own a pet, often for financial reasons or because they are in poor health and unable to cope.
The Facts about Pet Ownership
Five years ago, 63% of households owned a pet but now that figure is just 56%. Curiously, it is pet fish which have fallen out of favour more than any other animal. In 2010, 17% of households kept fish but that figure has fallen to 10%. There are far less rodents kept as pets these days and even the number of dogs has fallen slightly. Households with children have a much higher rate of pet ownership than the rest of the population whilst those over 55 have the lowest rate of pet ownership.
Pets and Health
The fall in pet ownership could prove damaging to the nation’s health. Pet owners tend to be happier and more relaxed. Dog owners are generally fitter and healthier than the general population. Pets have been shown to improve life for those suffering from depression, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder. Pets are more than just a pretty face!
We find ourselves in the unfortunate situation where we know that pets are good for us and most people would be delighted to share their life with an animal. But financial constraints, busy lives, rented accommodation and single person households mean that many potential pet owners simply aren’t in a position to look after an animal.