Pets First: seven in ten Brits prioritise their pet over their partner

Pets First: seven in ten Brits prioritise their pet over their partner

According to new Post Office research, seven in 10 (77 percent) young pet owners refer to their pet as their ‘fur baby’, and over a third (36 percent) say their family isn’t complete without an animal living at home.

Ninety-seven percent of the 18- to 35-year-old pet owners surveyed said they love their pet as if it were their child. Seven in 10 (71 percent) say they would rather spend time with their beloved animal than their partner, and 71 percent say their pet must like a prospective partner.

A sixth (15 percent) like snuggling with their animal so much that they have cancelled plans with friends and family, and three quarters (76 percent) have even cancelled a holiday or special occasion because their pet was unwell.

Pets top the gift list, with owners splashing out an annual average of £677 on food, £344 on clothes, £222 on treats and £192 on toys. Just three percent of owners surveyed never shell out on treats.

Pet parents spend thousands a year on well-cared-for pets, with hundreds of pounds (£417) doled out annually on pet-friendly holidays, dog walkers (£374) and special occasions such as Christmas (£171), Valentine’s Day (£151) and birthdays (£147).

It’s no surprise that 57 percent of owners say that people underestimate how expensive having a pet is, and 47 percent claim owning a dog or cat is more expensive than ever before.

Most pet parents insure their animals, but one in five (19 percent) do not. Common reasons for not taking out pet cover include the high cost (42 percent), not feeling the need to take out pet health insurance (33 percent) and their pet currently being healthy (25 percent).

Those who don’t have pet insurance spend an average of £632 a year on vet bills. Cat owners are less likely to have insurance (82 percent) compared to dog owners (84 percent).

The costs of keeping pets healthy are a concern for most pet parents. Three quarters of pet owners (75%) say they have panicked about escalating animal-related bills, and 14% even opt not to take their pet to the vet when they are ill as they are worried about mounting costs.

A fifth (13 percent) admit they have regretted getting a pet after seeing huge vet bills, while eight percent say the rising costs have taken a toll on their mental health. It’s no surprise that one in three (34 percent) say that giving up a ‘fur baby’ you can’t afford is the most heart-breaking thing they can imagine. Post Office has created an online hub to help people calculate the cost of owning a pet. It can be found here.

Paul Paddock, Product and Pricing Director at Post Office said, “We’ve always known that the UK is a nation of animal lovers and it’s evident from the research that being a pawrent is more important than ever to modern Brits. However, it’s also clear that many underestimate how much owning and caring for a pet can cost, with more than half admitting that it is more expensive than they expected. That’s why Post Office wants to help give people an idea of the cost of pet ownership to aid in financial planning and ensure pet owners are not caught out”.

Post Office has pet insurance policies for many types of animals, including puppy and kitten insurance, rabbits, older pet cover, insurance for animals with pre-existing health conditions and multipet policies for households with more than one animal.

Paddock continues, “Our customers also have 247 access to our pet call line, which means that ‘pawrents’ can access expert advice anytime, offering them peace of mind and ensuring their pets stay happy and healthy.”     

The data also revealed that dogs (78%) are the most popular pet, followed by cats (54%), birds (11%), fish (9%) and hamsters (4%).

The most popular dog breeds in the UK are German Shepherds (25 percent), Labrador Retrievers (16 percent), Bulldogs (15 percent), Golden Retrievers (14 percent) and Siberian Huskies (10 percent). Poodles (nine percent), French Bulldogs (nine percent), Beagles (eight percent), Chihuahuas (seven percent) and Jack Russell Terriers (five percent) round out the top ten.


  1. German Shepherd – 25%
  2. Labrador Retriever – 16%
  3. Bulldog – 15%
  4. Golden Retriever – 14%
  5. Siberian Husky – 10%
  6. Poodle – 9%
  7. French Bulldog – 9%
  8. Beagle – 8%
  9. Chihuahua – 7%
  10. Jack Russell Terrier – 5%
Alessandra Pacelli

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