4/2/2019 12:00:00 AM
One in four households in the UK have a dog, according to a new study by the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association (PFMA).
To coincide with the start of National Pet Month, the organisation surveyed 8,000 households to discover the nation's most popular pets.
Overall, the data confirms a stable pet population, with 12 million households owning pets (that's 40% of all homes).
There are 9 million dogs (25% of households) and 7.5 million cats (17%) living in UK homes.
Dog ownership is highest among 45-54 year olds at 30% and falls to 23% among Gen Z and 22% for Millennials. Cat ownership is also highest among 45-54 year olds at 21%, with the younger groups at 15% and 17% respectively.
Families across the UK also have 600,000 rabbits (1% of households), 500,000 indoor birds (1%), 500,000 domestic fowl (0.4%), 400,000 guinea pigs (1%), 300,000 hamsters (1%), 300,000 tortoises and turtles (0.7%), 300,000 lizards (0.6%) and 200,000 snakes (0.4%).
Commenting on the findings, PFMA chief executive and trustee of National Pet Month, Michael Bellingham, said: "A recent government survey found 77% of people sometimes feel lonely, and sadly those aged 16 to 34 were more affected than those aged over 50. Whatever your age, pets are good for you in so many ways; providing companionship, helping to reduce stress levels and instilling a sense of calm. Pets also give owners a reason to stay active and interact with others, giving a sense of purpose and boosting self-worth."
Tanya Michelsen, associate director and head of brand research at YouthSight, a youth agency that specialises in understanding Gen Z and Millennials, added: "Today, we are all looking for different ways to relieve stress and make our lives happier and more relaxing. In fact, 62% of 16-24 year olds tell us they regularly do as little as possible in their free time.
"For Millennials, who are increasingly having children later in life, a pet is the perfect companion. They provide an everyday routine, non-judgemental company and give owners a reason to exercise and have fun. They provide stability in a fast paced, ever changing world."
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