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French spend €3bn a year on pets

French spend €3bn a year on their pets

THE British are said to be a nation of animal-lovers, but it is actually the French who have more pets than any other Europeans, with 61.6 million animaux de compagnie for a population of 64 million. And they spend about €3 billion a year on them.

More than half of households in France have dogs, cats, fish or rodents. Fish are the most popular pet (36 million), with cats and dogs next, at 10.7m and 7.8m respectively. A quarter of homes have a dog and nearly a third at least one cat.

The figures come from a study by the animal medical insurance firm SantéVet, which also found that cat ownership is on the rise as a result of smaller living spaces and a shortage of gardens.

At the same time, the cost of keeping a pet is going up. Three-quarters of that €3bn figure is spent on petfoods —a sector that employs about 20,000 people in France — and those foods are becoming more specialised and more expensive.

The founder of the online petfood shop Croquetteland, Jean-Stéphane Pouverot, said ranges were now quite specific: “Brands have really been increasing their ranges, with special dog biscuits to combat portliness or tooth disease.”

Veterinary care is also becoming more expensive, having increased 72% in 10 years, SantéVet found that here, too, there is more specialisation, with vets offering particular services in ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, or oncology.

Ordinary consultations are around €30-€50, but treatments can range from about €150 a month for a dog with skin allergies to €2,000 for a course of chemotherapy. Other pet care options have also been growing, from the standard grooming parlour to massage and osteopathy and even internet dating sites. Some pets are cheaper than others, however. SantéVet says that a dog costs on average €1,300 a year while a snake costs just €80. Watch your language: An animal ethics journal in America recommends that people follow the French and say “companion animal” instead of “pet”, which is thought to be “derogatory”. Academics also suggest we should not say “wild” animals but rather “free-living” ones, because “wild” sounds “uncivilised”.

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