Pet ownership has become increasingly popular in Malaysia over the years, with more and more households welcoming pet companions into their homes. From cats and dogs to fish and birds, pets provide comfort and often bring joy and entertainment to their owners’ lives. However, owning a pet also comes with responsibility, including providing proper care and attention, ensuring their well-being and health, and adhering to local laws and regulations. In this article, we will explore the current state of pet ownership in Malaysia, the factors for its growing popularity, and the challenges that come with it.
The State of Pet Ownership in Malaysia
Standard Insights’ most recent Consumer Report Malaysia 2023, which gathered insights from over 1,000 Malaysian respondents on various industry-related topics, revealed that more than half of Malaysians (51.1%) have pets. Out of this group, 26.4% own multiple pets, indicating that pet ownership is not just a fad but a significant part of their lives.
Interestingly, the report also found that of the 48.9% of respondents who do not own pets, a significant proportion (26.2%) stated that they are interested in owning one. This indicates that there is a potential for the pet ownership trend to continue to grow in Malaysia.
Of those respondents who owned pets, the report found that cats are by far the most popular pets for Malaysian pet owners, with 77.7% of pet owners having at least one cat. This is followed by dogs (14.9%) and tropical fish (13.2%). Other pets, such as birds, reptiles, and small mammals, make up the remaining percentage of pet ownership in Malaysia.
Factors for the Rise of Pet Ownership in Malaysia
Pet ownership in Malaysia has been on the rise, and there are several factors contributing to this trend. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors.
1. Change in Lifestyle
The soaring cost of housing in Malaysia has forced numerous Malaysians to reside in more modest accommodations. In fact, housing rates in the country have increased by 4.1%, surpassing the pace of income growth. As a result, it has become challenging for them to accommodate a big family. As a substitute, pets are becoming increasingly popular as they offer both companionship and security to these individuals. Dogs and cats are particularly in demand as they can provide emotional support and can readily adjust to living in limited spaces.
2. Increased Awareness of the Benefits of Pet Ownership
In recent years, Malaysians have become increasingly aware of the numerous benefits of pet ownership. Studies have shown that pets can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being. They can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase feelings of happiness and contentment. Pets are also known to provide a sense of security, especially for those living alone.
Furthermore, owning a pet can help to build social connections and promote a more active lifestyle. Taking dogs for walks and engaging in other pet-related activities can lead to new friendships and increased physical activity. As a result of these benefits, Malaysians are increasingly turning to pet ownership as a way to enhance their quality of life.
3. Increase in Disposable Income
Due to the growing economy in Malaysia, a significant number of Malaysians now have more disposable income. This increase in financial resources has led to a surge in pet ownership and the willingness of Malaysians to invest in their furry companions as family members. Consequently, pet owners are now more inclined to spend more on premium food, toys, and grooming services, as well as pay for veterinary care to ensure their pets’ health and well-being.
The same Standard Insights report confirms that pet owners in Malaysia are not only spending money on essential pet supplies but also regularly purchasing gifts for their pets. Indeed, 34.7% of surveyed pet owners in Malaysia purchase gifts for their pets once a month or more. This statistic highlights the extent to which Malaysians are willing to spend money on their pets, and it is even more pronounced among pet owners who are between 18-24 years old and those living in the Central Region. In these two groups, 39.7% and 41.9% respectively reported buying gifts for their pets once a month or more.
Furthermore, the increase in disposable income has opened up avenues for pet owners to provide their furry friends with veterinary care. According to the report, an impressive 77.7% of pet owners in Malaysia seek out veterinarians for their pets’ medical or other related needs. Of this percentage, 19.0% only approach veterinarians when their pets fall ill, while 51.9% consult with them more than once annually. A mere 6.8% of pet owners consult with vets less than once a year. These statistics indicate that pet owners are more mindful of their pets’ healthcare requirements and are ready to invest in their well-being.
Challenges of Pet Ownership in Malaysia
While pet ownership in Malaysia is on the rise, it also comes with its challenges. Some of the challenges of pet ownership in Malaysia include:
1. Lack of Pet-Friendly Accommodation
Many landlords and housing developers in Malaysia do not allow pets on their properties, making it challenging for pet owners to find suitable housing. This can be especially difficult for pet owners who live in urban areas where finding pet-friendly accommodation is even more challenging. Pet owners may have to resort to paying higher rent or purchasing a property to accommodate their pets, which can be a significant financial burden.
2. Limited Access to Public Spaces
In Malaysia, numerous public spaces such as parks and beaches aren’t accommodating to pets, making it arduous for pet owners to take their furry friends out for exercise and socialization. Unfortunately, this circumstance can negatively affect the health and well-being of pets, limiting their opportunity to engage in activities that are crucial for their physical and mental state. Consequently, pet owners may have to resort to walking their pets on crowded roads and urban areas, which poses a threat to both their pets and themselves. This lack of pet-friendly areas also restricts pets from receiving sufficient exercise, which can lead to various health complications, such as obesity.
3. High Cost of Veterinary Care
While pet owners are now more willing to invest in their pets’ healthcare, veterinary care in Malaysia can be costly, making it challenging for some pet owners to access essential veterinary care for their pets. This is especially true for pet owners who have multiple pets or pets with chronic medical conditions that require frequent veterinary care. The high cost of veterinary care can also result in pet owners opting for cheaper and potentially unsafe alternatives, such as buying medication from unlicensed sources or not seeking veterinary care at all.
4. Limited Availability of Specialized Pet Products
While there has been an increase in high-quality pet products in Malaysia, some specialized products may not be readily available. This can be a challenge for pet owners who have pets with specific dietary needs or medical conditions that require specialized products. Pet owners may have to order these products from overseas, which can be costly and time-consuming. Limited availability of specialized pet products can also result in pet owners opting for less suitable products, which can harm their pets’ health and well-being.
In the mentioned Standard Insights report, a significant percentage of pet owners in Malaysia prefer to purchase their pet supplies from specialized pet shops/boutiques, with 28.5% of respondents indicating this as their preferred shopping destination. The next most popular option was big chain pet supply stores, preferred by 20.5% of pet owners. Online shopping also emerged as a popular choice, with 17.0% of pet owners opting for this convenient method of purchasing their pet supplies.
Pet ownership in Malaysia has seen significant growth, with more than half of Malaysians owning pets or expressing interest in owning one. This rise can be attributed to various factors, including changing lifestyles, increased awareness of the benefits of pet ownership, and a boost in disposable income. However, pet owners in Malaysia also face challenges such as a lack of pet-friendly accommodation, limited access to public spaces, high costs of veterinary care, and limited availability of specialized pet products. Addressing these challenges will be crucial in ensuring the well-being and happiness of both pets and their owners. Nonetheless, the growing popularity of pet ownership reflects the positive impact that pets can have on people’s lives in Malaysia and highlights the importance of responsible pet ownership.
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