A woman hugging a white dog in a field, highlighting the strong bond between humans and canines.

PD Survey Uncovers Insights from 2,000 NZ Pet Owners


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Companion animals in NZ almost equal the number of people and we believe their health and wellbeing is just as important. That’s why PD Insurance routinely invests time surveying pet owners to find out what they want for their pets, how they’re incorporated into their lifestyle and how they feel about them. Our most recent research about dogs, puppies, cats and kittens received responses from 2,000 pet owners, all PD customers.

We explored the bonds between pets and owners, challenges faced by the veterinary community and much more. The findings help to inform the way we support our customers and partners. The results may also be helpful to the wider pet industry, shedding light on certain pet owner perspectives and experiences.

Let’s take a look.

A cat and dog, both companion animals, lying on patch of sunlit garden, displaying a close affection to one another

PD research on dogs, puppies, cats and kittens

Our most recent research about dogs and puppies and cats and kittens shows 57% of owners acquired one or more of their beloved friends from breeders. 27% adopted from shelters and 14% welcomed companions from friends or family. A modest 4% chose the pet store route.

Beyond these conventional paths, 15% found their companion animals in unexpected parts of NZ. These included rubbish dumps, plastic bags, and even tied up in forests surrounded by littermates who had perished! Here’s what some shared with us:

Where our companion animals come from:

“Bolt was rescued from a bait dog ring.”

“On the night of Cyclone Gabriel, my daughter heard a baby cat crying outside through the wind. We went out in the rain and we followed the cries which were growing weaker! We foraged in the bushes listening for the cries as we know we heard something! There in the darkness we found a wet cold tiny baby cat about 5 days old! Abandon and alone in the storm, washed into our garden. We took him, dried him, and my oldest daughter got on Facebook to find pet milk and a bottle at 9.30pm! She drove all the way to Wakuka to get some. We fed him and he made the night! He was hand raised with love and care from 5 days to now 7 months old; he runs the house!”

“My cat climbed into my friend’s car boot without my friend knowing and my friend drove from Wellington to Christchurch with him in there – my friend couldn’t keep him so I’ve had him ever since.”

“My cat turned up on my doorstep and never left.”

“My partner went out hunting and found our wee girl tied to a tree in the middle of a foresty block…there were other puppies around that had all been shot…our girl was the only one left tied up and alive. He brought her home straight away and we took her to the vets for a check up the next day. The people who did this horrible stuff to the puppies still hasn’t been found unfortunately. The vets said she must have been there for a few days and that she looked about 3 months old. We ended up keeping her as no one would take her (it was the start of the first ever lock down).”

A black and white abandoned puppy which was rescued and forms part of PD's research on dogs and puppies

“Found our cat on the side of the road at 5wks old. Puppy (Snoop) was given to us from a person that found him in a plastic bag.”

“Cats are all rescued, but not from shelters, from the situations themselves or were dumped.”

“One was found on a construction site when he was just 4 weeks old – no mum or other babies anywhere nearby. He got handed in to a vet clinic where a friend worked and he needed a home. The other was a SPCA crusty old man who has been in there far too long after his previous family gave up on him.”

“We moved into a flat and she adopted us from the first day. It wasn’t till about 6 months later we found out she lived over the fence.”

“Found our kitty dumped and locked in a public toilet cubicle in Pirongia.”

“From someone who was going to breed pedigree cats but their queen had an unsanctioned romantic rendezvous with one of the local tomcats in the orchard behind their house.”

Many others got pets from Trade Me or people they knew whose pets had unplanned litters. A handful found and tamed wild animals. Some had the lucky experience of dogs or cats showing up at their door and simply never leaving again. That’s what you call true blue companion animals (AKA friends forever) in NZ.

Top concerns for companion animal health in NZ

We asked pet owners what their top health concerns were for their companion animals. Leading the list were accidental ingestion (60%) and concerns about broken bones (39%). Numbers three to five were intestinal obstruction (39%), bites from other animals (37%), and arthritis (27%).

Notably, accidental ingestion and bite wounds consistently rank among our most common claims for pet insurance, so the concerns are founded.

Expanding beyond health concerns to general hazards, owners expressed worries about their companions getting run over by cars (59%). Pets escaping and getting lost or hurt (57%) or being stolen (49%) followed next in line. Since COVID emerged the theft of animals has become a growing concern, something covered in our article on stolen dogs.

A vet examines a dog, one of the most common companion animals, with a stethoscope.

Challenges faced by NZ vets

Amidst the celebration of the human-animal bond, it’s crucial to recognise the challenges faced by veterinarians in NZ. Despite shortages of experienced vet staff, rising costs and long hours, the country’s animal health practices are still doing a commendable job.

Michelle Le Long, COO of PD Insurance, highlights that 76% of research respondents haven’t found it difficult to get a vet appointment in the past 12 months. However, the remaining 24% noted challenges, including difficulties in getting appointments, vet clinics closing, shorter appointments and higher prices.

Dr Rhea Hurley, Canine Health and Welfare Officer at Dogs New Zealand says, “Unfortunately, clinics are understaffed, waiting times have increased, more people have pets since COVID and fixed costs are rising.” She explains that vets are on the long-term skill shortage list on the NZ immigration page.

Watch this PD Pet Care vlog, where Dr Cath and Dr Meg Irvine of Vet Lifeskills discuss practical coping tactics:

Unconditional love for companion animals

We know dogs are humans’ best friend, along with cats – so we wasted no time in asking that. We did ask about the love of pets vs partners and our survey results showed a noteworthy 52% love their pets and partners equally. However, a candid 21% confessed to loving pets MORE than their partners!

90% of respondents would never consider dating someone who doesn’t get along with their companions.

This unconditional love is reflected in the home living arrangements. A staggering 80% of people who are tenants expressing a willingness to pay more for a pet-friendly residence in NZ. While the majority (50%) will consider an additional $50 per week, 22% will go as far as $100 and 3% were willing to pay up to $250 extra.

Finally, 5% would be willing to pay more than $500 every week in rent that allows companion animals.

Award winning pet insurance for the fur kids

As many in the pet industry are aware, pet insurance helps fill the gap in the world of companion animal health that for humans the government subsidises. While we have medical aid, animals don’t and it’s often them that suffer physically while owners suffer emotionally and financially.

Because pet insurance can alleviate this burden, we invite vets, breeders, trainers, pet retailers and others to partner with PD.

As a partner you can help raise awareness about the benefits of pet insurance with your clients and customers. If you refer a client to PD and they successfully sign up for the benefits, then your organisation earns rewards. Our dedicated team of PD Pet Insurance Business Development Managers (BDMs) are there to support you.

Let’s stand together and help more companion animals stay healthy. Find out more about our pet care programme and earning partner rewards.

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