Horses the most expensive pet to keep in Australia, bank survey shows

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How confident can we be in our assessment that a horse is happy?

Horses are the most expensive pet to keep in Australia, according to a bank survey that explored people’s spending habits.

The results suggest Australia may be poised to lift Britain’s title as the biggest nation of animal lovers, with Aussies decidedly reluctant to cut their spending on pets, even if the going gets tough.

RaboDirect surveyed 2500 Australians aged 18 to 65 in August as part of the bank’s annual Financial Health Barometer. The findings show that only 14 per cent of pet owners would reduce spending on their pets if their income dropped.

Remarkably, 48 per cent of pet owners would take steps to minimise their power usage. They would be more likely to reduce spending on essentials (47 per cent), switch to using cheaper products (35 per cent) or look for additional work (16 per cent) rather than curb spending on their pets.

Horses were found to be the most expensive pet, with 27 per cent of horse owners spending more than $A201 a month on their animal, whereas 46 per cent of bird owners spent less than $50 a month on their feathered friends.

Pet owners were significantly more likely to have pet insurance where monthly expenses exceeded $A100 a month. However, only one in ten horse owners had insurance.

“Our research shows that the majority of Australians are pet owners, but with the investment of love and affection also comes the significant costs of feeding, exercising and grooming them, as well as often expensive veterinary bills,” said Glenn Wealands, the head of research and analytics with Rabobank Australia and New Zealand Group.

Pet owners regarded their pets as essential to their overall wellbeing, with 49 per cent stating that keeping pets was more important to them than being able to socialise with friends or being able to retire before the age of 65.

The survey indicated that 53 percent of Australian households had pets, with dogs proving more popular than cats.

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