Australians are putting more emphasis on preventative health during the coronavirus pandemic, not only for themselves but also for their dogs.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted a vast number of fundamental changes to the way we all live our lives but perhaps none is more emblematic about our deepest concerns in the COVID-19 era than the way we treat our pets.
New research has revealed that an extraordinary 92 per cent of Australian dog owners now prioritise preventative health for both their animals and their families.
More than that, as many as three quarters of dog owners also say that they can not survive another community lockdown without their furry friends, a clear indication of how intimately entwined our pets are in both our emotional and physical lives.
Conducted by NexGard SPECTRA, one of the country’s leading broad spectrum treatments for fleas, ticks and worms in dogs, the wide-ranging research explores dog owner attitudes during the COVID-19 crisis regarding their dog’s health, including the risk posed by parasites to both pets and family.
The research also found that in terms of dog health, substance is triumphing over superficiality as dog owners turn from an emphasis on grooming their pets to preventative health as a strategy to safeguard both life and quality of life, perhaps mirroring the health concerns we all face during the pandemic.
The research, released overnight, says almost seven in ten (69%) of Australian dog owners believe that the health of their dog is just as important as the health of other family members. Australians spent more than $700 million on dog grooming during 2019 but 80 per cent of those surveyed said that they would now give priority to their dog’s health over its appearance.
Additionally, 65 per cent said they will spend more on their dog’s physical health as a result of the pandemic, with younger people – 78 per cent of Gen Z and 73 per cent of Millenials – likely to spend even more than their older counterparts.
The survey also indicated a lack of understanding surrounding the substantial risk of parasites to Australian pets, especially dogs.
Almost 40 per cent of respondents were unaware of the risks that parasites posed to their family pooch, nor were they aware of the five main types of parasites. However, more than half of dog owners – 54 per cent – said they were concerned about their pet’s internal health even if they looked healthy on the outside.
Awareness of the five important types of parasites decreased across generations: Baby Boomers with 75 per cent awareness, Gen X with 60 per cent awareness, Millennials with 54 per cent awareness and Gen Z with 46 per cent awareness.
A zoonotic disease, or zoonosis, is a disease that can be transmitted from an animal to a human. Examples of zoonotic infections that humans may acquire from dogs include leptospirosis, salmonellosis, or infection with intestinal worms, such as roundworm or hookworm.
More than 70 per cent of Australian dog owners had not heard of the term zoonosis and 41 per cent of respondents believe that it is only a little likely or not likely that parasites that affect dogs can cause human health problems.
More generally, less than half – 45 per cent – are aware that dogs can transmit other infectious diseases to pet owners by licking, for example.
“Australians love dogs, and with an estimated five million dogs and 40 per cent of households owning at least one dog, the research validates just how big a role they play in our lives,” says Andrew Palmer, head of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Australia, manufacturers of NexGard SPECTRA.
“It is really promising to see that preventative health is top of mind for dog owners but what the research also tells us is that there is a big opportunity to educate dog owners on zoonotic diseases and the risks of parasites. The more awareness, the happier and healthier a family will be.”
While human interaction was limited during isolation, our fur babies stayed by our side. This made for the perfect opportunity to strengthen bonds, with 64% of dog owners admitting to feeling more love and loyalty from their dog due to the pandemic.
 Animal Medicines Australia Pets in Australia: a national survey of pets and people.
About NexGard SPECTRA®
NexGard SPECTRA® makes protection easy and stops parasites getting in the way of a dog’s healthy, happy life. It provides the most complete protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms in just one tasty monthly chew. Find more details on how NexGard SPECTRA® can protect your dog on its next adventure, no matter how big or small visit https://nexgard.com.au