Nation’s dog owners set to spend £162m on pets

Britain’s dog owners are set to spend £162 million on their canine companions this Christmas as a thank you for their support this year.

According to research by Guide Dogs, almost three-quarters of dog owners will be treating their animals during the festive season – spending an average of £21.92 per pet.

With an estimated 10.1 million dogs in the UK, that means 7.37 million will receive presents such as treats (72%), soft toys (63%) and bones and chews (47%).

The survey of 2,000 dog owners revealed that other popular gifts include a ball (31%) and a new collar (19%).

The charity has seen demand for its dog treats and toys skyrocket, with online sales up 50% on last year, with ‘Pigs in Blankets Dog Treats’ and ‘Dog Pet Treat Stocking’ appearing in the top 20 best sellers online.

Guide Dogs is attributing pet owners’ generosity to a thank you for the love and support they have received from the animals during the pandemic – with 75% of respondents saying their dogs helped them more than they could have imagined in 2020.

Dog owners in London will be spending the most (£34.33), followed by those in the North West (£23.14), North East (£22.94) and West Midlands (£22.87).

It also emerged that 87% of owners are excited about their dog’s Christmas, with 22% saying it would be their first with them. This follows the huge rise in demand for dogs as people spend more time at home.

Dr Helen Whiteside, head of research at Guide Dogs, said: “2020 has been a difficult year but it has also been a reminder of why we regard dog as man’s best friend. The research shows we like to treat our dogs like a member of the family and many lucky animals will be spoilt rotten by their adoring owners this year.

“Whilst we love festive food and gifts, it’s important to make sure to check everything is safe for our pets and we recommend owners give them ‘dog safe’ treats and presents. Many dogs will be having their first Christmas with their owners and it’s an exciting time as millions prepare to treat their beloved pets as a thank you for being there this year.”

The study also found that 15% of dog owners even plan to spend more on their pooch than their parents, while 13% said the dogs will have more spent on them than the children. More than one in 10 will even spend more on their dog than their partner.

The survey carried our via OnePoll also found that 16% admitted that they would rather spend Christmas with their dogs than with their family. Another 59% are planning on taking their dog for a special Christmas Day walk.

Dr Helen Whiteside added: “Christmas is a special time of the year and while it won’t be normal, millions will have their pets by their side ensuring they have a wonderful day. There is a bond between humans and their dog – and this is something experienced in a particularly special way by guide dog owners whose companions have provided priceless companionship and assistance over the past 12 months.

“Every hour, someone in the UK starts to lose their sight and Guide Dogs shop helps to raise money for Guide Dog services.”

For more information on Guide Dogs you can visit www.guidedogs.com