Pet parent particulars:

Females vs males

Never mind the truth about cats and dogs, when it comes to pet ownership there are marked differences in approaches between men and women.

Women are more likely to own a pet, more likely to worry about their furry friend’s welfare, and more likely to give their time or money to animal charities.

“We like to think of our pets as part of the family and our research shows that the maternal instinct tends to extend to the fur babies,” says Michelle Le Long, PD Insurance Chief Operating Officer, New Zealand.

“But interestingly, while women are more likely to worry about their pet encountering various hazards that could affect their health, they are less likely to insure them.”

Pets as profound pals through COVID

The recent research attracted more than 1,000 responses across the country. One of the notable findings was the role pets have played through the COVID lockdown, with 74% of respondents indicating their pet helped them cope in some way.

Female respondents were much more likely to state this (78% vs 68% of men). When asked ‘How has your pet/s been helping you deal with the COVID pandemic?’ the difference between genders was noticeable mainly across the mental and emotional health responses:




I’ve exercised regularly by taking my pet/s for walks



I’ve improved my health by taking my pet/s for more walks than pre-COVID



My pet/s has made being at home feel less stifling



My pet/s has helped me maintain my mental health during this time



My mental health has improved through spending more time with my pet/s



My pet/s has helped me stay calmer during this time than I would’ve been without it



I’ve appreciated having my pet/s near me to give comfort during times of distress



My pet/s has helped my family cope with this time



My pet/s has been a good distraction from the pandemic negativity



My pet/s has helped the kids not fight as much while stuck at home



Other (please specify)



“Our research suggests women take the ‘pet parent’ rather than ‘pet owner’ approach more to heart than men do,” says Le Long, noting this extends across a range of survey findings.

For example, when it comes to pet accidents rather than illnesses, women are more likely to fear for their pet, with 77% worrying about it being hit by a vehicle versus 64% of men. The next most common hazard concerns are their pet getting into a scrap with another animal (64% vs 54%), escaping the yard (52% vs 44%) and getting taken by another human (42% vs 35%).

The difference is also noticeable with concern for their pet’s emotional issues owing to absence at work or elsewhere – 28% of women noted this as a worry versus 16% of men.

Pulling on the heart strings

The emotional aspects of pet ownership again appeared stronger amongst females over males when asked why a pet is part of their family:

  • It’s my ‘fur baby’ and I would do anything for it’ – 49% of women vs 25% of men
  • It adds value to my life – 63% vs 49%
  • Pet cuddles improve my mood – 56% vs 37%

Females are also more likely to see their pets as a favourite companion at 54%; for men, that number is 46%.

Finally, 31% of women donate money or time to animal charities, versus 21% of men.

“From this study, there’s no question women and men see the relationship with their pets somewhat differently. While at PD Insurance we tend to think of pets as an extension of the family, it’s apparent that this is a stronger sentiment for females than males,” comments Le Long.

Despite that, men tend to be more aware of the availability of pet insurance – and they are more likely to insure their pets for injury, disease, and third-party liability.

“It’s interesting to see that while the proportion of Kiwis who have insured their pets is low, with 85% without pet cover, men tend to make this investment more often than women do. 18% have pet insurance, while only 13% of female pet parents do,” says Le Long.

“The same research shows that 53 % of all respondents aren’t sure if they could afford a $1000+ vet bill. With medical expenses part and parcel of pet parenting, it’s essential that every pet owner should have a plan to deal with the unexpected – and with PD Insurance policies starting from just a dollar a day, pet insurance should be a no brainer.”


Media contact 

Leandri Smith – The Mail Room 
027 365 9003 | [email protected]