We all know a dog is not just for Christmas – but it seems Christmas is becoming all about our pets. With a new survey revealing that a quarter of owners now spend as much on pressies for their pets as they do on their kids and partners, it looks like there are going to be some extremely pampered pets on Christmas morning.
Pets at Home has found that a quarter of a million Christmas dog toys and 20,000 Christmas cat treats have already been bought in advance of the big day, with its new luxury £30 Pets at Home Giant Treat Advent Calendar selling out online within three days. And this figure for festive pet gifts looks to increase with peak Christmas buying just around the corner.
Let's face it: Britain has always been a nation of pet lovers, and this intensified over lockdown when three million more dogs and cats were bought as companions. There are now 17 million households in Britain with pets, which means 60% of the UK population now shares their home with a furry friend.
With 88% of pet owners admitting that they celebrate Christmas with their pets, you can't escape the fact that pets play a huge part in our lives.
In fact, our pets have become so much a part of the family that we’re now spending up to £873 million on their Christmas gifts.
Research also shows that 50% of pets will receive a Christmas stocking this year — with a quarter of owners saying they'll buy their pet a Christmas jumper. And over 20,000 dogs will be booked into a grooming salon for a pre-Christmas spa treatment to ensure that they’re looking their best for the big day.
Pets at Home chief executive officer Lyssa McGowan says, "It's no surprise that owners want to show their appreciation by treating their pets at Christmas just like other family members. We have seen demand grow for our Christmas ranges over the years, with advent calendars, Christmas jumpers and stockings all firm favourites. And there's something for every pocket with prices starting from a couple of pounds for a treat."
Top of the treats
Christmas presents (62%)
Pet Christmas toys (43%)
Festive treats (43%)
Special Christmas walk (25%)
Pet Christmas meal (27%)
Christmas dinner plate (23%)
Pet advent calendar (15%)
Pets at the dinner table (13%)
Pet Christmas Jumper (8%)
Pets allowed to sleep in owner's bed (7%)
*source: Co-Op 2022
Not just for Christmas
Beyond the festive season, pets will always pull at our purse strings. MoneyHelper has found over their lifetime, the average cost of owning a dog or cat is between £16,000 and £33,000, depending on the breed and how long they live. The bill can be a lot more or less for other pets. For example, a horse will set you back around £12,000 in the first year alone, while a hamster could cost as little as £100 a year.
Research by Which? shows that the average cost of a lifetime pet insurance policy is £472 a year for a dog and £285 for a cat, which rises steeply as they age. Then there's the cost of pet food. Food for cats and dogs is likely to cost between £200 and £400 a year. Larger dogs will inevitably cost more, while hamsters, mice and other rodents are much cheaper to feed. And, of course, there are gourmet options, which are even more expensive.
Add to this the cost of grooming, vaccinations, neutering, flea and worming treatment, beds, toys and cages – and let's not forget all the routine vaccinations and vet bills that aren’t covered by insurance – and the cost quickly adds up.
Worth every penny?
Fortunately, the majority of pet owners (71%) say they would do anything to keep their pets happy and feel more content thanks to their furry companion.
What's more, over half of pet owners (53%) believe their pet understands them better than other people, and 65% say their pet can read their emotions.
So, no matter how hard the cost of living bites, two in five (38%) say they’re more likely to cut down on things for themselves to ensure their pets still have a good quality of life.
All of this means if you're feeling embarrassed about putting up a festive pet stocking next to those for your kids, don't be. Academic research suggests that our pets give our well-being an extra boost when they’re treated as family members.
Although you might want to draw the line at matching pyjamas.