In the UK, pet obesity is on the rise while the dog population is declining due to shifting attitudes about animal cuteness and a shift towards more low maintenance animals, like cats, ants, and even reptiles.
The proportion of households in the UK owning a dog has dropped, particularly large dogs (those heavier than 23kg), which experienced a decline from 2.8 million to 1.8 million during 2006 through 2011. This number fell by over 200,000 in 2011 alone, according to Euromonitor International data. Meanwhile, cat ownership is on the rise, with the proportion of households owning cats going from 24.6% to 25.4% during the same period. Longer working hours and limited budgets put added stress on the financial obligation of owning a pet.
“Not all owners can afford these costs,” said Lee Linthicum, head of food research at Euromonitor. “It puts downward pressure on the country’s dog population, because of the demand on time and money that is required for these animals. It burdens those owners that want to offer the best for their pet but cannot afford to do so.
“Obesity is also emerging as a major issue for pet owners in the UK, driven in large part by the fact that many are feeding their pets ‘human’ food,” adds Linthicum. “It does offer opportunities for the pet products market, as ‘humanisation’ fuels pet owners’ desires to spend more on their pets; but it also perpetuates the increasing costs associated with owning a pet.”
Euromonitor expects 2012 to see the launch of more “diet” pet food products, including low-calorie and portion-control offerings, aimed at tackling the obesity problem among the country’s pet and human population.