If you’re a shelter pet looking to be adopted, avoid Australia. According to stats by Mars Petcare Australia in the twelve months to December 2014, the number of pet cats fell by a whopping 200,000 while the number of dogs dropped by 100,000. While there is likely a host of complex reasons for this marked decline, it seems that social issues are at the heart of the lukewarm attitude toward having pets.
Dogs and cats provide a series of physical and emotional health benefits to their human companions – ranging from increased levels of activity to better outlook on life and less stress – however, factors like high rental prices, lack of pet-friendly rental properties, and too little space may be affecting pet parent numbers.
What’s more, since 31% of cat parents and 34% of dog parents in Australia currently own senior pets, it’s likely that the pet parent numbers in that country will soon decline even more. When it comes to rectifying this situation, the director of Mars Petcare, Tim McCallum, stated that Australians simply couldn’t take pet parenting for granted or risk losing the value that pets bring to their lives.
The Health Benefits of Pets in Australia
If pet parent numbers in Australia do slip even further, residents in that country will soon face losing a series of definable health benefits. In addition to combatting loneliness and boredom, pets can also offer serious physical and mental health boosts. In fact, dog parents are less likely to suffer from depression than their dog-less counterparts, and people with pets have lower blood pressure in all situations than people without pets. Additionally, playing with a pet at least once a day increases serotonin and dopamine levels in the body, which promote calmness and relaxation. Finally, pet parents who are older than 65 make on average, fewer trips to the doctor than seniors without pets do.
The Solution to the Problem
If Australia is going to rectify its pet parent problem, several social issues must be resolved. First, people in that country may be having a difficult time finding pet-friendly rentals, which means that more should be built throughout the country. Additionally, job perks that allow employees to bring their pets to work or facilities that offer on-site doggie daycare have been shown to increase pet parent numbers and may be an effective tactic in Australia. Finally, people who work long hours are less likely to adopt a pet due to their demanding schedule. These people, as well, may benefit from “bring your dog to work” programs or looser schedules in which there is more time to interact with a pet. Regardless of how Australia decides to make its pet parent crisis right, one thing is clear: pet parents are privy to definable health benefits, and without those, the society as a whole is at risk of a marked decline in health.