this grey cat and light brown dog are playing in autumn leaves, enjoying playtime for a dog and cat on Love Your Pet Day 2023

New ‘Love Your Pet Day’ Research Reveals All


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New Zealand pets can rejoice this Love Your Pet Day 2023, on 20 February. Our latest pet ownership research reveals more than one quarter of partnered-up pet parents (26%) prefer their fur kid’s company over their partner’s company. That’s more than one in every four cat or dog owners.

Only 21% said they didn’t love their pet more, while 53% said they loved both pet and partner equally. Are we the only ones surprised by that?! I mean, we love animals, but….

No wonder more than one in ten (11%) have a ‘pet pre-nup‘, an official document that outlines who takes custody of the pets in a breakup and who pays what for pet care costs such as vet bills and insurance.

Perhaps more people should be checking out their options here 😉

We love our fur kids as much as this puppy and kitten love each other!

Who was surveyed for Love Your Pet Day 2023?

Over mid January to mid February 2023 PD Insurance surveyed 1,826 pet owners (1,498 with partners, in case you were wondering) to get a good insight into New Zealanders’ relationships with our pets. The pet ownership research asked them 18 questions, both multiple choice and open-ended, on topics ranging from pet care costs through to the cheekiest thing their pet had done.

PD conducted the research so we could release the results on the Love Your Pet Day 2023 date. We weren’t to know that NZ would have by then been ravaged by Cyclone Gabrielle and still be reeling in her wake.

Hopefully this research brings a little light to a dark situation that will no doubt reverberate through the North Island community for some time yet.

What did the pet ownership research uncover?

Our Chief Operating Officer, Michelle Le Long, said of the results, “Unfortunately for many partners across the country, our pet ownership research found a good proportion of us would rather hang out with Fido or Fluffy than the human we chose to share our life with.”

“But while that’s a bit of fun, our research also gained useful insights into attitudes to pet health and wellbeing and discovered that most take it very seriously. Plenty of people truly earn the right to be called ‘pet parents’.”

Let’s look into some of the key findings.

Love Your Pet Day 2023 research shows 2 in 3 people like this man with an airline ticket and his cat take their pet on holidays

Adoption appetite on the increase

Abandoned or unwanted pets are an ongoing challenge for shelters across New Zealand, and increasingly so.

Back in September 2021 we wrote about the rising number of people giving up pets for adoption then again in August 2022 about budgeting for the rising cost of pet ownership. Living costs are only getting heftier and unfortunately that flows through to financial (and rental) struggles for pet owners.

Pet adoption alleviates the pressure on shelter facilities while giving surrendered, abandoned and stray dogs and cats a new lease on life. A slight majority of our Love Your Pet Day 2023 pet ownership research respondents said they’ve already adopted a shelter cat or a dog (51%), which is wonderful. Even more heartening is that 82% said they’re open to adoption in the future.

That’s a ringing endorsement of pet love. What better way to be a good parent than taking in an unwanted dog or cat and making them the centre of your attention.

If you’re considering it but not quite there yet, how about looking to foster a dog or cat for now? Many shelters run animal fostering programs and partner with foster families. Fostering a pet means being their surrogate pet parent, either until their forever home is found or for a set amount of time. 

Taking pets on holiday

Getting away from it all is increasingly something we do with pets. More than half of our pet ownership research respondents include their fur babies on holiday adventures. Some 62% make it a ‘full’ family holiday, with more than one in three of these people (38%) having paid extra for pet-friendly accommodation in the past.

Amazingly, this holidaying with your pet trend has exploded. One 24% of respondents said they did so when we did research around this same question back in September 2020. Talk about ‘rise of the fur baby’.

Psst … if you love doing quizzes, you’ll love our interactive pet personality quiz. Find out what pet you are and share it with your friends – click below:

Taking pets to work

When the holiday’s over, a fair proportion take their pet along to the office. 18% indicated this is their usual practice.

We’re going to presume that almost all are referring to dogs. They’re no doubt enjoying some of these science-backed benefits we highlighted in our Bring Your Dog to Work Day article (yes, there’s a day for that too):

  1. Dogs reduce stress. Research has shown petting a dog for just ten minutes is enough to release oxytocin, which reduces stress. In addition, other research shows people whose dogs came to work were less stressed than those whose dogs stayed home as well as those without dogs at all.
  2. Dogs can improve productivity. It seems having your dog with you at work can make you more productive.
  3. Dogs improve employee retention rates. Bringing your dog to work positively affects job satisfaction and therefore employee retention.
  4. Dogs encourage teamwork. Can you believe it that when there’s a dog around, employees are likelier to work effectively in groups.

Back to our Love Your Pet Day 2023 pet ownership research, we found another 19% of survey respondents would like to bring their pet to work but can’t and a lucky 19% work from home with their pet. This author being one of them… Cat fur in the keyboard, anyone?

That’s more than half of all Kiwis working with their pets. Maybe there’s something in the theory of furry companions as a productivity aid!

Ginger cat watches YouTube pet ownership research videos on a bed on Love Your Pet Day 2023

Vets and pets: the costs involved

Our survey also asked how much pet parents spend on medical bills annually. Here’s what they said:

  • 46% only spend under $500
  • 33% spend $501-$1,000
  • 14% spend $1,001-$2,500
  • 8% spend over $2,500
  • 3% spend over $5,000

Where do you sit?

Pet insurance for the win

As most people appreciate, their pet is a family member deserving of care when it’s required. We read plenty of stories from our respondents about the highest vet bill they’d paid, such as this one from Melissa: “Our 6 month old puppy was diagnosed with auto immune disease where his body attacked his red blood cells and he needed two blood transfusions.”

Facing costs of more than $5,000, she adds, “so grateful for insurance and that he is still with us.”

Of those surveyed, a significant proportion have pet insurance, at 37%. This result is more than double that revealed by the 2020 PD Insurance pet ownership research mentioned earlier. It’s clear pet insurance is growing quickly in popularity.

And why wouldn’t it. Medical cover for your pets doesn’t break the bank, helps make vet care costs manageable, and absolutely assists emotionally and financially in a pet health emergency. Unconvinced? Read about pet insurance vs savings.

This golden retriever licks the face of its male vet as PD celebrates two year anniversary of pet insurance in New Zealand with its Love Your Pet Day 2023 pet ownership research

Why we’ll love our cheeky pets this Love Your Pet Day 2023

When our pet ownership research asked about why they loved their pets so much, responses varied widely.

Kasey-Marie summed up the sentiment, saying, “their personalities and the love they give. I have no intention of having children myself, so my fur babies are my only babies and they’re spoilt and know it. They provide so much love, laughter and happiness. They are both quirky and hysterical.”

Lauren adds, “they’re family, my child.” And Debbie’s dog is a winner: “he has an amazing character, funny, loyal, protective, gentle, caring and tolerant.”

Even if they’re dogs and cats, pets can also be cheeky monkeys. Asked about ‘the cheekiest’ thing his pet has done, Richard remembers a morning when his dog “peed on my bag before work.” Hopefully he had a back up bag rather than trying to clean it up (we all know how stinky that can be).

Scott’s cat went one further, sparing him the smell if not the disgrace, when it “peed on my flatmate’s suitcase! Oops…” And Christmas came early for Maddie’s pup, who “ripped open the presents!”

Pets are good for our health

New Zealand has well-documented mental health challenges and, for many, a pet is an outlet, a source of companionship and a reason for exercise and a happier life.

When respondents were asked how pets contribute to this, the most popular responses were that they:

  • Help with mental health (83%)
  • Make me laugh (81%)
  • Cheer me up (79%)
  • Give me unconditional love (79%)
  • Support my emotional stability (64%)

The sixth most popular response was that their pet helps them exercise (61%). That’s more than one in every two respondents! Pets helping us be healthy – how good is that. This coincides with respondents saying walkies was the most popular pet-plus-human activity.

BTW, while we’re on the topic of being a great pet mum or dad, find out what’s your pet parenting style.

Introduce your dog to other dog friends on Love Your Pet Day 2023, but gently if you have an adult Border Collie like this one.

How do we show pets our love?

In soooo many ways and not just on Love Your Pet Day 2023. Here are three answers we loved in our pet ownership research:

For Avril’s pup it’s “Going daily to the local coffee shop; coffee for me and two cooked sausages for 12 years old Skyla.”

Clare loves her dog “By caring for her. Food, shelter, love, exercise, vet care, medications, outing and training!”

Kat’s cat gets the works: “Lots of pats and treats. We have a fancy feast Friday where they have a tin each which they really enjoy. They have free reign of the house too and they get first pick of the best spot on the bed.”

Now that you’ve read this, be sure to check out 10 random acts of kindness we can do for our beloved pets.

Protect the love for your pets

While Kiwi pet parents are a diverse, enthusiastic lot – much like their cats and dogs – they share a common appreciation for caring and looking after their animal companions.

Love Your Pet Day 2023 is a perfect time for some extra special fun and enjoyment with the creatures who do so much for us. It’s also a good time to consider pet insurance so you can help your pets receive the best care when they need it.

PD Insurance is award-winning, cost-effective insurance that you can pay month to month with no lock-in contract. Why not take a couple of minutes to get a quote? We’ll even give you one or more months free on sign-up!

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