In the UK, the dog population stands at approximately 8.5 million, with about 24% of households owning a dog compared to 17% with a cat and 8% with fish. But just how much of a dog-loving nation is the UK?

Here, we’ll look at how dog owners really feel about their pets, what they’re willing to spend on them to make them happy, and the kind of dog-friendly products, venues and services available throughout the nation.

Dogs in the UK

According to a survey carried out by Animal Friends Pet Insurance, about 75% of pets receive Christmas presents, with the average price of each gift hitting the £19.98 mark — more than £5 more than the amount we spend on our friends.

But this is just a snapshot of how much Brits love their dogs. Typically, dog owners will spend in excess of £18,000 on their pooch throughout their pet’s lifetime, according to a study of 2,000 dog owners carried out in preparation for World Animal Day 2017. This figure includes expenses relating to vet bills, dog food, treats, toys and accessories — just one year of which will tot up to around £1,384!

Chief executive of SPANA, a charity that helps to improve the lives of working animals, Geoffrey Dennis said: “The UK is undoubtedly a nation of animal lovers and pet owners are prepared to go to great lengths — and costs — to ensure their companions enjoy a happy and healthy life.”

The study also brought to light the idea that we see our dogs as bona fide members of our families, with 40% of people saying they let their pooch sleep on their bed and 25% admitting to letting them under the covers.

Here are the typical costs associated with owning a dog per year:

  • Food: £373
  • Vet costs: £285
  • Insurance: £188
  • Grooming: £150
  • Treats/presents: £146
  • Kennels: £134
  • Accessories: £107

Doggy products

Dennis’ theory that we’re a nation of animal lovers is supported by the fact that only 8% of owners begrudged how much they spent on their dog.

Today, owners admit to buying their canine best friend a wide range of indulgent products — from gourmet treats (20%) and luxury leads (12%), to designer clothing (10%) and dog-friendly holidays (10%). Many of us will even have bought our dogs bottles of ‘pawsecco’ to let them celebrate the new year with us, while others might have even treated them to a bottle of doggy cologne for Christmas. However, there’s a huge range of bizarre products out there for your dog that you might not know about.

Dog treadmills are ideal if you have a small, lazy pooch that doesn’t cope well in damp, cold weather. Or why not invest in a smart camera so you can check on your dog when you’re at work? FitBarks work like FitBits by capturing your pet’s activity and sleeping habits, while dog doorbells make a perfect solution to standing in the chilly doorway as your dog wanders in the back garden.

Evidently, we enjoy making our dogs’ lives easier. 81% of dog owners claim that they treat their pets like family. So, is it surprising that we’re willing to invest in products to help our four-legged family members?

Dog-friendly venues

Owning a dog can lengthen your life — that’s the statement made by researchers analysing cardiovascular disease. The study into 3.4 million people showed that dog owners had a 33% reduced risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease and an 11% minimised chance of a heart attack.

Reasons behind this include increasing owners’ physical activity and improving their social contact. Since previous studies have shown that people who reside alone typically are at a higher risk of cardiovascular death, letting our dogs help us socialise is a potential contributor to our appreciation of them.

Across the UK, you will find a range of venues that you can enjoy with your dog. From dog-friendly coastal cottages and pubs, to pooch-appropriate beaches and restaurants; more Brits are choosing to take their dogs with them when they head out to a public place. DoggiePubs, a non-commercial guide of places where you can dine with your dog, features more than 5,000 places that you can enjoy with your pet, while Scotland recently opened its first residential dog café.

With a growing number of pet-friendly venues, and even places designed and run specifically for canine customers, it seems that our affinity for socialising with our dogs is gaining momentum.  

Canine services

According to Pets At Home, pet owners spend billions on insuring, grooming and taking their animals to the vet — and both grooming and insurance sectors are set to grow. So, which pamper sessions do we already treat our dogs to and what can we expect?

Today, you can get everything from facials and pedicures to massages and aromatherapy shampoo treatments for your dog — and this trend for spoiling your pooch is spreading worldwide. In China, dog owners are taking their animals to luxury pet hotels and many animals there are also treated to stress-busting acupuncture treatments at a cost of approximately £29 a session!

In the US, pet resorts are growing in popularity, with one place in Virginia costing around £750 for an eight-day stay. But, for some owners, offering your dog indoor walking tracks, agility fields, indoor swimming pools, mud bath treatments and ‘pawicures’ (which can include nail varnish) might be worth the investment.

Analysts of the global pet grooming market predict that the industry will grow approximately 4.19% between the years of 2016 and 2020. The lines between a human service and pet service are clearly burring, and it’s fair to suggest that we can expect more dog-friendly treatments in the future.