August 25, 2020


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.

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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.

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  • WE treat our two dogs like family and a healthy dog is a happy dog-that’s our priority.


  • I take my Soxy to the vets every week mostly for weigh in. She has her annual check and gets her annual shots plus a heartworm injection which lasts for 12 months. Also if I think there may be something bothering her I take her to the vet. I don’t care about the cost even though I do have pet insurance. I just need her to be healthy and comfortable. Did this for all of our dogs, Our Border Collie lived to 21 and my Papillon cross was 13 when she passed away. Both dogs were taken to the vets to leave this world in peace and pain free. It was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do but I couldn’t let them suffer for my benefit.


  • A dogs health has to be a priority, as they can’t be their energetic, loving companions if they are sick or uncomfortable!


  • We’re always on top of our dog’s health with vax every year; worming every month; and top up treatments every 3 months. We walk him regularly and give him our time often. He’s part of our family and deserves to be treated as such.


  • I think exercise should be a top priority- that and the usual booster shots worming and tick treatments. You see a lot of dog owners that keep their dog as more of an accessory and don’t realise that they need to be walked regularly to be in top shape.


  • Amazingly some vets are treating dogs who are being walked too often now. Moderation should be the key to everything.


  • Our kids adore our dog. Now that our other dog had passed away he is one spoilt puppy.


  • Our dog is well loved and looked after. She is like a member of the family.


  • Our priority should always be our dogs health but a little pampering never goes astray either.


  • Never considered pampering my dog. I like them to be as natural as possible. Dog gets its vet checkups, fed, exercised and played with as well as bathed. There’s no way I would take her to a groomer and spend a fortune on something that I can do at home myself. It also teaches the kids responsibility


  • I would assume caring for a dog is the same as caring for a child; be consistent and loving


  • Absolutely preventative health I wholeheartedly agree with that


  • Don’t think pandemic should change the way you are looking after your pets.


  • I didn’t change my relation with my dog because of Covid-19. He gets his monthly flea treatment like before, and when we go on holiday it’s always a pet-friendly one. We walk outside twice every day like before.


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