Published: 17/07/2020
  • 13% of people across the UK have purchased or adopted a cat or dog, or considered doing so, since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown
  • Nearly a fifth (16%) purchased or adopted a cat or dog, or considered doing so, as lockdown approached
  • 38% of those who have looking to get a pet have come across online scams
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) are worried about their ability to look after a pet after lockdown, while over a quarter (27%) are worried about their ability to afford a pet

16 July 2020 – The lockdown restrictions due to the coronavirus have seen UK households rushing to make sure they have a furry companion to help them through the pandemic. New research from comparethemarket.com reveals that over one in ten (13%) people got, or considered getting, a cat or dog after the announcement of a nationwide lockdown which began on 23rd March.

More people began looking for pets before the restrictions came into place, with nearly a fifth (16%) looking for pets in the run up to lockdown. Young people were particularly likely to look for a pet in the run up to lockdown, when nearly a fifth (18%) of 18-24 year olds adopted or considered adopting a cat and 23% did the same for dogs.

Out of those who decided to adopt or purchase a pet, nearly a third (31%) paid the full amount online or in cash in advance of receiving the animal, potentially leaving themselves vulnerable to fraudsters who have been seeking to exploit the increase in people looking to purchase or adopt pets.

Over a third (38%) of those who did get, or considered getting, a cat or dog said they came across pet related scams. Over a quarter (28%) said that they had seen adverts for pets which they believed to be fake. One in ten (10%) were caught out and either responded to an advert for a pet which they later found out to be fake or provided payment for a pet which never arrived; this figure rises to 21% amongst young people. Worryingly, comparethemarket.com’s analysis shows that nearly a third (32%) of those who considered adopting or purchasing a cat or dog did no prior background checks to ensure that the pet was from a legitimate breeder.

Most of those who brought home a new pet did so once the pet was above the age of eight weeks, however, 13% of cats and dogs purchased or adopted in the run up to or during the lockdown were under eight weeks of age. Taking home such young animals goes against animal welfare guidelines and insurers could refuse to provide cover for pets of this age.

When asked why they were thinking about getting a pet, nearly a third (30%) were influenced by the prospect of being stuck at home due to the lockdown and nearly a fifth (19%) thought a pet would soothe their anxiety about the pandemic. Additionally, over a third (35%) said that a pet would make them feel less lonely and a similar number (33%) wanted a pet to encourage them to increase their daily exercise.

With the Government now rolling out a gradual relaxation of lockdown measures, nearly a quarter (23%) of those who got a cat or dog, or are considering doing so, worry about their ability to look after a pet once the lockdown is lifted and the UK returns to work. Furthermore, over one in five (27%) are worried about their ability to afford a pet after the lockdown – a time in which many people have been feeling financial pressure. Only six in ten (64%) have bought insurance for their new pet, leaving them vulnerable to unexpected medical bills.

Mubina Pirmohamed, Head of Pet Insurance at comparethemarket.com said:

“The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly contributed to stress levels for many households across the UK, and a pet can be a great way to keep your family’s spirits high or to ease anxiety. However, we urge those looking to adopt or buy pets to be aware of scams and ensure they complete thorough background checks on those claiming to be selling animals online.

It is also important to consider the long-term financial cost of owning a pet, especially in the current circumstances in which many families are feeling the financial squeeze. Looking after a dog’s basic needs can cost up to £13,000 over its lifetime. On top of this, if your pet gets sick, the average pet insurance claim will set you back by £750. To avoid being caught out and having to pay for vet bills all on your own, consider taking out insurance for your pet to help cover some of those costs in case your pet falls ill, gets injured or needs ongoing treatment, consider taking out insurance for your pet, which can protect a cat for as little as £82 a year, or a dog for £171 a year.”


Notes to editors

Research conducted by Populus of 2,091 UK adults between 6th and 7th May 2020.

About comparethemarket.com

comparethemarket.com was launched in 2006 and has grown rapidly over the past fourteen years to become one of the UK’s leading price comparison websites.

comparethemarket.com provides customers with an easy way to make the right choice for them on a wide range of products including motor, home, life, travel and pet insurance as well as utilities and money products such as credit cards and loans.

comparethemarket.com actively works with its brand partners to help provide great services to customers.

comparethemarket.com is a trading name of Compare The Market Limited. Compare The Market Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for insurance distribution (FRN: 778488) and is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2017 (FRN: 911617) for the provision of payment services.