Pet Power

A European Appreciation for Pets

Recently released data from one of the Pet Alliance partners, FEDIAF, the European association representing the Pet Food Industry, has confirmed that over 50% of Europeans now benefit from the companionship of a furry friend.  This is an amazing figure, very reassuring but perhaps not so surprising for pet lovers at the Pet Alliance!

Among the diverse array of pets, cats reign supreme in Europe. With a population of 129 million, they are the most popular companion animals, found in 27% of households. Dogs follow closely, with 106 million in 25% of European homes. These numbers reflect the deep affection Europeans have for their furry friends.

In addition to dogs and cats, Europeans share their homes with 52m birds, 30m small mammals, 23m aquaria and 12m terraria who all bring their unique charm and companionship to a household. 

The Pet Alliance is delighted to see that so many Europeans benefit from ownership.  We are also not surprised that the benefits are scientifically proven!  Here are a few reasons why we choose to add pets to our families:

  1. Companionship is a key motive as pets bring joy to our lives, provide emotional support and reduce feelings of loneliness. A study conducted among 6000 people during lockdown, investigated links between pet ownership, mental health and loneliness.  The results overwhelmingly confirmed that pets helped them cope better. Studies have also looked at the benefits of other animals such as fish and research has shown that they can help improve mood and encourage relaxation. 
  2. Pets encourage physical activity and social interaction.  They also contribute to a sense of community. In January 2024, research from the University of Western Australia among 600 children confirmed that girls who have a dog spent almost an hour more being active per day, suggesting dog ownership could help curb childhood obesity. Additionally, a study of 2600 pet owners across Australia and the US confirmed that pet owners were more likely to get to know people in their neighbourhood.

3. Owning a pet also teaches responsibility and instils empathy among children. There is lots of excellent research on the benefits of pets for children. A huge study of 31,453 children in Japan – with 36% owning a pet – confirmed that pet ownership was associated with better emotional expression in later childhood. Pets can also boost chidlren’s positive emotions and reduce anxiety. 

Overall, pet ownership enriches the lives and enhances the wellbeing of adults and children across Europe. As households continues to embrace the companionship of pets, we are confident that the growing bond between humans and their pets will foster a healthier, happier society.