For many Australians, pets are no longer just seen as companion animals but true members of the family. There are even more Australian homes with pets than those with children. They’ve also made the move indoors, with over 76% of pets or ‘fur-babies’ now staking out their spot on the sofa with the rest of the family.
But even though pets have climbed closer to the top of the family tree, they’re still not being thoughtfully considered in the household budget. A recent survey of over 1000 pet owners conducted by insurance company AAMI found that more than a third of owners didn’t know how much they were spending on their pets.
AAMI estimates that the average pet owner spends around $1335 per year on their animal. When you consider that pets often live upwards of 10 years, the cost over their lifetime certainly adds up, especially when you factor in unexpected illnesses and injuries that require intensive or ongoing veterinary care.
Surprisingly, more than 80% of survey respondents said they didn’t insure their pets against injury or illness, even though almost 50% said they 'spoiled' their pet. The survey found that owners were more likely to spend money on non-essential clothing and accessories for their pet, than on insurance.
We all know that pet insurance plays an essential role in providing veterinary care when unexpected health concerns arise, so it begs the question... are pet owners unaware of its importance, or are they actively choosing not to take out pet cover?
Pet insurance not only has the ability to take financial concerns out of the decision-making process for clients but also allows veterinarians to give top-level care and provide the animal with the best possible chance of recovery.
Time will tell if pet insurance uptake in Australia reaches the levels currently seen overseas. We can only hope that as the importance of pets within the family unit grows, so too will the willingness of owners to spend money on essentials and non-essentials alike.
After all, what better way is there to show your love for your pet than by ensuring they can receive top-level health care, even if it does mean leaving that tiny reindeer costume on the rack.
This article appeared in the December 2018 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal.