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The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6NH


Dogs unleashed and cats miaow-ving up the charts

Dogs unleashed and cats miaow-ving up the charts

PFMA releases its Top Ten Pets Chart and New Pet Population Data 2018

Today, the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) releases its 2018 pet population data, based on interviews with 8000 households[i], confirming a 400,000 rise in the dog population, which now stands at 9 million.  26% of households now own a dog, representing an increase of around 300,000 households.

From the research, it is clear that a rise in dog ownership among families is the key driver.  The number of households with children owning a dog has grown by 11%[ii] to 2.3 million, 230,000 more than last year. However, dogs are not the only pets to have moved up the charts.  The cat population is at its highest for five years at 8 million. 18% of households own a cat, which equates to 140,000 more cats and 75,000 more households.

Key Findings:

  • 13 million households (45% of UK households) have a pet 
  • 600,000 more households have a pet this year
  • 5 million households own a cat (75,000 more than last year)
  • 6.6 million households own a dog (300,000 more than last year)
  • 4.4 million (53%) households with children own a pet
  • 28% of UK households with children now own a dog, compared to 24% last year
  • 2.3 million families have a child and a dog compared to 2 million last year

Michael Bellingham PFMA Chief Executive adds: “I was not surprised to read about the growth of the dog population among households with children as personally I have recently joined this movement.  Tessa, a Schnoodle, is very much part of our family and I am delighted that 11% more families in the UK are benefitting from dog ownership.  Pets in varied shapes and sizes – from lizards and snakes to hamsters and cats – can bring so much joy to children.

With the demands of modern life and the pull of digital companions, we are so pleased that more children will benefits from the social, emotional and physical benefits of pet interaction.” 

“Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden, said: “We have long known that dogs are man’s best friend and it is positive to see an increase in the number of households with children also sharing their lives with dogs. Owning a dog can have so many benefits for families and our hugely successful Be Dog Smart campaign is packed full of advice and information to ensure this harmonious relationship continues.”

PFMA’s top ten pets for 2018 are:

9 million dogs
8 million cats            
900,000 rabbits
500,000 indoor birds            
500,000 domestic fowl
400,000 Guinea pigs             
300,000 hamsters
300,000 tortoises and turtles
200,000 lizards
200,000 snakes       

There are 3 million indoor fish tanks, proving that fish are a very popular pet[iii].

This year our Top Ten Pets is published as part of a detailed ‘Pet Data Report’, which includes regional data, pets per household, first pets, pet nutrition research, UK market data and much more. The report can be viewed online:   


For more information and male cat-owning case studies, please contact Nicole Paley or Michael Bellingham on 0207 379 9009 or or

For more information on the Dogs Trust ‘Be Dog Smart Activity’, please visit:

[i] Each year a representative sample of UK adults are interviewed by TNS / Solus Consulting, in face-to-face interviews, regarding their pet ownership. Since 2014, a sample of over 4,000 people have been interviewed. In order to further reduce statistical uncertainty, survey results are averaged over 2 years, giving an effective sample of over 8,000 people. 

[ii] The number of households with children and dogs has increased from 2,074,756 in 2017 to 2,303,029 in 2018, an increase of 228,273 (rounded to 230,000)

[iii] Our methodology for assessing the number of fish has changed this year and we are looking at one year’s worth of data.  Next year we will be able to confidently publish numbers. 

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