Pets in the Netherlands

31/07/2023 General

Pets in the Netherlands: an estimate of the number of furry friends

In a recent survey conducted by Dibevo, Dutch households were asked whether they have a pet, and if so, what type of pet they have. And what did it reveal? Nearly half of the Dutch households (45%) own one or more pets, while the remaining 55 percent don't have any pets. 

Cats and dogs are the most popular pets.

Cats appear to be the most popular among pets in the Netherlands, with almost a quarter of the households (23%) owning one or more cats. In second place are dogs, with 18 percent of the households having a barking four-legged friend at home. Other popular pets are birds, fish, rabbits and poultry.

To estimate the total number of pets in the Netherlands, they asked about the number of pets per household. On average, households with a cat have 1.6 cats, while there are 130 dogs for every 100 dog owners. Based on these numbers, it's estimated that there are almost one and a half million households with dogs, owning over 1.8 million dogs. The number of cats in the Netherlands is estimated at around three million.

Reasons why people no longer have pets

Interestingly, slightly less than half of the households have a pet, while around 13 percent have never had a pet before. The remaining 43 percent have had pets in the past but no longer have any. The main reason people no longer have pets is the death of their animal, after which they didn't get a new pet. Ten percent of the people no longer have pets because they are often away from home for longer periods of time. These reasons align with previous measurements.

Interestingly, seven percent of all Dutch people never had a pet because of their frequent absence. This percentage is comparable to previous measurements.

Fortunately, nine out of ten households (92%) don't anticipate any change in the number of pets for the upcoming year. This figure remains consistent compared to previous measurements. Of the households that do expect change, five percent think they will have more pets. As in previous measurements, people mainly expect an increase in the number of dogs and cats. In contrast, three percent of the households think they will have fewer pets next year. They estimate that their pet will not live much longer and will pass away sometime next year.

Dogs for companionship

In 18 percent of Dutch households, we find one or more dogs. 14 percent of these dogs are under two years old. Most households with a dog have a dog between two and seven years old (50%).

For Dutch people, owning a dog is a source of cosiness and friendship. When they go on holiday or go away for the weekend, they take care of their dog in different ways. Half of the households with a dog say that their dog is taken care of by family, friends, or neighbours (50%). Three out of ten take their dog with them on holiday, while one out of five take their dog to a professional day care such as a pet boarding centre (19%), which is similar to previous measurements.

Nearly half of the households with a dog (45%) always have someone at home to look after the dog. Three out of ten trust that their dog can stay at home alone (31%), while a quarter say that family or friends then take care of the dog (26%). Only 14 percent are rarely or never away from home for a day.

Cats for companionship

Most Dutch households with a cat have a cat that is between 2 and 7 years old (44%). A third of the households have a cat aged between 8 and 14 years (34%). Nearly all cats are neutered or spayed (94%). Furthermore, 78 percent of the households with cats have microchipped their cat.

As with dogs, companionship is the primary reason for having a cat. When Dutch households with a cat go on holiday or a weekend away, family, friends or neighbours look after the cats (almost 80%). A small number of the Dutch people take their cats to a professional day care (11%), while 13 percent say that their cat can be left alone.

Other animals: birds, fish, rabbits, poultry, and small animals. 

Besides dogs and cats, there are other beloved pets in the Netherlands. People keep ornamental birds and songbirds primarily for companionship (68%) and because they find these animals beautiful (50%) or interesting (33%). Poultry is mainly kept, because they contribute to a cosy atmosphere (63%), but also for other reasons (47%). In this regard, Dutch people particularly mention the fresh eggs from chickens as a reason why they keep these pets.

Aquarium fish and pond fish are kept for fun (58% and 43% respectively), but also because of their beauty (48% and 38%) and because they are interesting animals (33% and 20%). People with a pond often mention that they enjoy having fish in their pond (28%). Rabbits and small animals are also primarily kept for companionship.

Purchase of animals and supplies

When it comes to acquiring pets, Dutch breeders appear to be the main source for purchasing dogs. Almost four out of ten households with a dog bought their most recent dog from a breeder in the Netherlands. In addition, online ads (22%) and family or friends (11%) are mentioned relatively often.

For households with cats, the top three purchasing sources look different. Most people (30%) got their cat from family or friends. One out of five adopted their cat from an animal shelter or stray animal shelter in the Netherlands (23%), while a similar number got their cat through an online ad (21%).

Aquarium fish are mainly bought from regular pet shops, while pond fish are often bought from garden centres with a pet section. Ornamental and songbirds are usually bought from regular pet shops, while poultry is often purchased through online ads. Small animals are mainly bought from regular pet shops, while rabbits are often obtained from family or friends. 

Pet food

As for buying pet food, a third of the Dutch people say they usually buy pet food from a pet shop (32%). Supermarkets (19%) and online pet shops (21%) follow in second and third place, respectively. For dog parents, the pet shop is the first choice for pet food, while cat owners are more likely to buy their pet food from supermarkets (29%). When buying poultry feed, people mainly choose farm shops (47%) and pet shops (28%).

Most pet parents buy their pet supplies mainly from pet shops. They appreciate the good quality of the products available and the advice provided by the staff. Large items, such as dog crates or scratching trees, are often bought online for the convenience of home delivery. Discount shops are often visited for impulse purchases or small cheaper items.

Although a quarter of pet owners buy alternative pet food, they would like more information about it. However, the majority (37%) show no interest in alternative products and don't buy them. When special pet food is bought, it's often food with a label for better animal welfare (23%), raw meat/animal by-products (15%) or organic food (13%). People are particularly interested in pet food with a lower environmental impact (19%), a certification for better animal welfare (16%), and food with alternative protein sources (13%).

Pet care 

It turns out that pet groomers and behavioural experts aren't very popular among Dutch households with a dog, cat or rabbit.

Rising prices

Rising prices: on average, Dutch people with a pet spend 44 euros a month on pet food. This amount is similar to that of the spring season, when the average spend was 42 euros per month. On average, people with horses or ponies spend the most on their pets, followed by those with poultry or dogs.

The average spending on pet supplies is slightly lower, at 15 euros per month. This amount has remained unchanged compared to the previous measurement. Once again, owners of horses or ponies appear to spend the most on average on pet supplies.

Influence of rising prices

Asked about the impact of rising prices on pet spending, three quarters of the Dutch people with a pet said it had no impact (74%). However, this means that a quarter of the Dutch people do notice the effects of rising prices, an increase compared to the previous measurement (22%)

Ten percent of the people say they don't cut back on pet food, but rather on personal expenses to afford the same food. Nine percent buy the same food elsewhere where it's more affordable, similar to the previous measurement.

Especially people with low income say that rising prices affect their spending on pets.At a price increase of 10 percent, half of them notice the impact (53%). This share remains the same at a 20 percent price rise, but increases at a 30 percent rise (62%) 

Among people with a modal income, almost four out of ten say that they would notice consequences in case of a price rise, regardless of its amount. Among high-income earners, this is about a quarter.

Dutch people don't show significant concern regarding a price increase 

However, it's notable that almost no Dutch people have considered getting rid of their pet as a result of rising prices (97%). Even if prices were to rise by 10 percent, almost six in ten say that this wouldn't affect their pet spending. They would still buy the same products at a higher price. Approximately 27 percent would explore the possibility of obtaining the same food at a lower cost from elsewhere, whereas 12 percent would economise on personal expenses.

In the case of a price increase of 20 percent or 30 percent, almost half of the respondents say that this wouldn't affect their expenses (49% and 48% respectively). Roughly three out of ten respondents would check if they could obtain the same food at a lower cost from elsewhere in both scenarios of increase, while 12 to 15 percent would switch to a more affordable brand of pet food.

The love between Dutch people and their pets

All in all, the results show that pets play an important role in the lives of Dutch households. They bring joy, companionship and warmth, and Dutch people know how to care for their pets and provide them with the necessary food and supplies. Clearly, the bond between Dutch people and their pets is strong and these special connections will continue for a long time to come.
Cats appear to be the most popular among pets in the Netherlands, with almost a quarter of the households (23%) owning one or more cats.
For Dutch people, owning a dog is a source of cosiness and friendship.
As for buying pet food, a third of the Dutch people say they usually buy pet food from a pet shop (32%). Supermarkets (19%) and online pet shops (21%) follow in second and third place, respectively.

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