Consumer Corner: Canadian Pet Market Outlook, 2014

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 Introduction | Canadian pet ownership rates by age of children, 2013 | Pet ownership across ethnic groups | Pet owner psychographics | Pet food purchasing patterns|Treat purchases | Sources

Fifty-seven percent of Canadian Households own pets which equates to 7.5 million households.  Cats are more popular pets than dogs.  Thirty-seven percent of Canadian households owned one or more cats, 32% owned dogs.  Overall Canada is home to roughly 5.9 million dogs and 7.9 million cats.  Nine percent of Canadians owned other types of pets, including fish, birds, small mammals and herptiles.

Higher income households ($100,000+) are 21% of the population account for 25% of pet owners in general.  Why is this important to know?  Higher income households have more discretionary income so are able to spend more.  They support the all-important premiumization trend which generates dollar growth in the market.  They are more likely to weather a tough economy and are less likely to feel the most severe effects of an economic down turn.  They are more attentive to value-added health claims.  They read labels and pay attention to health claims.  As a result they are more likely to understand and appreciate why higher-priced products are worth the extra dollars in terms of potential pet health dividends.

Consumers in the 45 to 54 age group are well ahead of the average with a pet ownership level of 75%.  This group also ranked highest in ownership levels in both the dog and cat classification and came in second in the other classification.  Consumer aged 18 to 24 were tops in the other category which includes birds, fish, small mammals.

Canadian Pet Ownership Rates by Age Brackets, 2013 (percent)

Canadian Pet Ownership Rates by Age of Children, 2013

Among households with children, those with very young children are less likely to own pets than those with older kids.  Households with children in the 12-17 age bracket are the most likely to own dogs, while households with children in the 3-5 age brackets are more likely to own cats. Overall, more than three-quarters of the households with children age six or over have at least one pet.  According to Statistics Canada, NHS Profile from 2011 there were 6.9 million children under the age of 18 years.

Canadian Pet Ownership Rates by Age of Children, 2013 (percent)
Age of Children
2 and under
3 to 5
6 to 11
12 to 17

Pet Ownership across Ethnic Groups

According to Packaged Facts consumer survey data, minority households are slightly less likely than average to own pets. They are ten percent less likely to own dogs and four percent less likely to own cats.  They are, however, five percent more likely than  average to own pets from the other category.

Canadian Pet Ownership by Ethnic Origin, 2013
(percent of pet-owning households)

Ethnic Origin
Dogs %
Cats %
Other %
Any %
Other includes Blacks and Latin Americans

Pet Owner Psychographics

Eighty-six percent of dog owners and 89% of cat owners consider their pets to be part of the family. Dog owners believe their pets offer them improved physical health while cat owners believe their pets offer them improved metal health. Pet owners are generally in line with national averages in terms of their health-related psychographics and behaviour but are slightly more likely to gravitate towards products that offer natural formulations and enhanced health benefits. They agree that natural ingredients mean healthier foods, and prefer foods that are less processed and have fewer ingredients. Since pet owners are trying to eat more healthfully, and get their nutrition from foods rather than supplements they are more likely to purchase nutritionally enhanced foods and beverages for their pets.

Dog owners are 21% more likely to spend more to get healthier, higher quality foods for their dogs. Dog owners agree that natural and organic products are better than standard national brand products and they would buy more if they were available. Pet owners are also concerned about food safety and feel that food stores should do more to ensure the safety of the foods they sell.

Pet Food Purchasing Patterns

Among dog food purchasers, those aged 55-64 are most likely to purchase both wet foods and specialty nutritional formulas, including wheat or grain-free products at an index of 123 and 165 respectively. Those with children aged 6-11 years are disproportionately likely to purchase natural/organic foods. Those with a master’s degree are more than twice as likely to purchase specialty nutritional formulas. Consumers living in Alberta are substantially less like than those in British Columbia to buy both natural/organic and specialty nutritional formulas. Consumers with children under the age of twelve are more likely to buy foods with special health benefits, as are those with a master’s degree and those living in Alberta.

Treat Purchases

Seventy-nine percent of dog owners and 74% of cat owners purchase treats for their pets. Among those who purchase dog treats, survey respondents aged 55-64 are 25% more likely to purchase “tasty” treats. Those aged 35-44 are more likely to purchase nutritional treats.

Among those who purchase cat treats households earning between $75,000 and $99,999 a year are more likely than average to purchase “tasty treats”. Those aged 45-54 are more likely to purchase nutritional treats. Men are disproportionately likely to purchase food add-ins and supplements. Those with children under age six are more than twice as likely to purchase food add-ins and supplements, and those consumers with children age 6-11 and students are nearly three times as likely.


The information is an excerpt from the Canadian Pet Market Outlook, 2014 which is a market research report written and researched by Packaged Facts of Rockville, Maryland 20852.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Jeewani Fernando.
This document is maintained by Erminia Guercio.
This information published to the web on July 4, 2014.
Last Reviewed/Revised on July 12, 2018.