The health benefits of pets are increasingly well known. And now a new survey reveals how the impact of pet ownership on all aspects of human health has grown substantially in the past few decades.
Gone are the days where dogs were solely working, hunting, farm and guard dogs. The history of guide dogs goes back more than 100 years … and today, there are higher numbers of therapy, emotional and medical support animals to redefine the role and importance of working animals. And beyond their role as service animals, the family pet has a huge influence on human health and wellbeing in a family’s daily life.
Not surprising, pet owners are showing more health consciousness in the dietary decisions they make for their animal family members.
Market research firm Mintel GNPD (Mintel Global New Product Database) analyzed emerging trends in the pet food market and offered some key insights.
Mintel noted there’s a reciprocal impact of pets on human health, and humans on pet health … evidenced by pet food selection, and the growing demand for healthy pet food.
Pets Impact Human Health
Pets play a vital role in promoting mental health through companionship that reduces isolation and loneliness. Pets can reduce stress and anxiety as they provide owners with a sense of calm and relaxation. Pets can also bring a social aspect to heir owners lives, whether at the park, in the neighborhood or during trips to the market or pet store … and that fosters a sense of community and connectedness.
According to Mintel data, 54% of pet owners include regular exercise in their pets’ routine, which leads to their own increased levels of physical activity … leading to improved health markers, like lower blood pressure. This aligns with the prevailing belief that regular exercise is crucial for healthy living. Activities like daily dog walks, running, hiking and even competitive pursuits like frisbee or agility reinforce the mutual benefits pets and their owners share.
The Mintel study shows that we value the health benefits our pets bring us, and we reciprocate by paying more attention to their health too. An important way we do that is by choosing healthier foods.
Demand Grows For Healthy Pet Food
As of 2023, Mintel reports 60% of pet food buyers in the UK based their purchasing decisions on the health benefits offered by pet food. Pet food marketers know this … because half of new pet food launches in 2023 included health claims.
One-Third Of Dog And Cat Owners Choose Health
In 2022, a third of US consumers said that improving their pets’ health and wellness was the primary reason for switching pet food brands. Cat owners led dog owners in this respect.
Equal numbers of dog and cat owners noted the importance of diet in boosting the health and well-being of their pets, with taste and price influencing the choices of only one-sixth of pet owners. Dog owners placed higher emphasis on palatability, while cat owners viewed cost savings as more important. Most UK food buyers voiced interest in personalized weight management meal plans.
RELATED: 9 healthy foods for dogs …
Younger Generations Prefer Healthier Choices
Recent years have witnessed younger generations move toward healthier, fresher pet food options. Chilled and frozen pet foods have gained popularity in both the UK and the US. Among the 16-24 age group, more than half (52%) expressed interest in chilled fresh pet food, while 42% showed similar enthusiasm for frozen.
In comparison, less than a third of pet owners 55+ are interested in chilled food, and even less in frozen.
This shift underscores the generational preference for pet food that aligns with a modern health-conscious lifestyle.
The trend is expected to continue. Mintel’s Global Food and Drink Analyst, Kate Vlietstra, said:
”In the next couple of years, we forecast that bespoke pet foods for individual cats and dogs, designed specifically for their health needs, will become more and more popular. With pets representing a more significant role in our lives, our willingness to prioritise and budget for their health needs will be bolstered. We can expect to see a continuation in the prioritisation of pet health along with a focus on sustainability and ethical consumption.”
Whether you own a dog, cat, fish or ferret … it’s good news for pets!