The pandemic has put health in the front of mind for Australians, not just for themselves but for their furry companions too. New research has revealed that 92% of Australian dog owners say preventative health for their dog and family is their top priority now.
In addition, almost three quarters of dog owners (74%) they can’t survive without their dog through a second lockdown.
The research, conducted by NexGard SPECTRA®, has uncovered dog owners’ attitudes and opinions during COVID-19 about their dog’s health, including the risk posed by parasites to their dog and their family.
Prevention over pampering
Pooch pampering is out, and hound health is in. According to the research, almost 7 in 10 (69%) of Australian dog owners feel that the health of their dog is just as important as the health of other family members. Nearly all (94%) said that when it comes to their dog’s health, it’s what’s on the inside and outside that matters.
Whilst we were previously a nation focused on pampering, spending over $710 million on pet grooming in 2019 alone, 8 in 10 respondents will now be prioritising their dog’s health over appearance.
In addition, nearly two thirds (65%) have admitted they will spend more on their dog’s physical health as a result of the pandemic – with younger generations most likely to spend more (78% of Gen Z and 73% of Millennials).
Pets, parasites and zoonoses
Despite our focus on health, the survey also indicated there is still a lot of education needed on the risk of parasites. 38% of respondents were not aware of all the five main types of parasites that may harm their beloved dog. Over half (54%) of owners said they worry about their dog’s internal health even if they look healthy on the outside.
Awareness of the five important types of parasites decreases across the generations: Baby Boomers (75% awareness), Gen X (60% awareness), Millennials (54% awareness) and Gen Z (46% awareness).
A zoonotic disease, or zoonosis, is a disease that can be transmitted from an animal to a human. Examples of zoonotic infections that humans may acquire from dogs include leptospirosis, salmonellosis, or infection with intestinal worms, such as roundworm or hookworm.
More than 7 in 10 Australian dog owners had not heard of the term zoonosis and 41% of respondents believe that it’s only a little likely or not likely that parasites that affect dogs can cause human health problems. More generally, less than half (45%) are aware that dogs can transmit other infectious diseases to pet owners by licking, for example.
Andrew Palmer, Head of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Australia said, “Australians love dogs, and with an estimated five million dogs and 40% of households owning at least one dog, the research validates just how big a role they play in our lives.
“It is really promising to see that preventative health is top of mind for dog owners but what the research also tells us is that there is a big opportunity to educate dog owners on zoonotic diseases and the risks of parasites. The more awareness, the happier and healthier a family will be,” said Andrew.
Love and loyalty
While human interaction was limited during isolation, our fur babies stayed by our side. This made for the perfect opportunity to strengthen bonds, with 64% of dog owners admitting to feeling more love and loyalty from their dog due to the pandemic.
Time to travel
With many domestic and international borders closed, dog owners are looking to travel when restrictions ease – with 6 in 10 saying they experienced ‘cabin fever’ in isolation. With dogs on their mind, their preferred travel buddy is their furry friend – with 4 in 10 saying their dog is their top pick for a holiday companion for their next trip, followed by their partner.
Over half (52%) of Aussie dog owners will be looking for a dog-friendly holiday for their next trip and over 7 in 10 (72%) agree that sharing ‘moments of fun’ with their canine companion has become more important as a result of the pandemic. Exploring new parks and adventures (42%) are top of the list.
Do you agree with these results? What should dog owners priorities be – in your opinion? Tell us in the comments below.