Aussie pets fetch $2 billion in health care savings

Dr Chris Brown advocates tax credits for Aussie pets and encourage adoption, Sydney. Photo: Cathy Beer

Aussie pets fetch $2 billion in public health care savings

Dr Chris Brown calls for tax credit for Aussie pets to stimulate further benefits and encourage pet adoption

To help relieve the pain of ballooning healthcare budgets, well-known veterinarian Dr Chris Brown is prescribing pets to Federal and State governments.

On the back of new data1 released today showing that pet owners deliver a massive $2 billion in public health care savings across Australia, Dr Chris Brown is encouraging policymakers to consider tax rebates or offsets that encourage pet ownership to stimulate further savings.

Vet Dr Chris Brown launches The Healthcare Economics of Pets report 31 July 2017. Photo: Cathy Beer

While the individual health benefits of owning a pet are widely known, The Healthcare Economics of Pets1 report determined that every pet owner saves the health system $700 per year1 in reducing the number of doctor visits and associated health costs, such as fewer specialist appointments and hospital visits.

“This research is a wakeup call for policy makers to acknowledge the broader benefits of pet ownership, which even extends to the public purse. If our governments can recognise pet owners for making smart choices for their health through incentives like a tax rebate or offset, the return on investment could be huge,” said Dr Chris Brown.

The calculations are based on previous studies by academics at the University of Melbourne that showed pet owners visit the doctors 11% less than non-pet owners2.

The economic projections indicate that if pet populations increased by 10% a year the public health system could stand to save over $200 million annually.

On a personal note, Dr Chris Brown knows first hand the benefits of pets from living with Reg the Kelpie and Cricket the rescue cat.

“My Kelpie helps me with my sense of humour and he gets me out for a walk with him every day, where as Cricket has a natural relaxation effect by taking away stress.  They don’t judge me except for my ability to provide a lap or a pat,” said Dr Chris Brown.

The Healthcare Economics of Pets was commissioned by Mars Petcare as part of the Keep Australia Pet Friendly campaign which Ambassador Dr Chris Brown has been championing since 2015. Dr Chris Brown has been working to highlight the many benefits of pet ownership with stakeholders, pet owners and policy makers to stress the need to build a more pet friendly nation into the future, focusing on accommodation, open spaces and transport as priorities.

John Bishop, Co-Founder and Joint CEO of national animal welfare charity PetRescue, has voiced his support for the proposal.

“We really need policies like this to encourage more Australians to discover the benefits, and the joy, of pet adoption. The fact that pet ownership also has such a huge positive impact on our economy, it makes me wonder why this hasn’t been implemented sooner. It’s a win-win for both humans and the many thousands of pets looking for a new home,” said Mr Bishop.

Supporters can follow Keep Australia Pet Friendly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #KeepAusPetFriendly. To find out more visit

About the report

Healthcare Economics of Pets was commissioned by Mars Petcare as part of the Keep Australia Pet Friendly campaign and developed by consultants at Bluegreen Economics. Lead author, Dr Stephen Thornton, is a social economist and former academic at The University of Queensland. Calculations are based on the work of Headey and Grabka2-4. The methodology follows that of a recent UK study5 (also based on the work of Headey and Grabka) by academics at the University of Lincoln with assistance from Dr Sandra McCune from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.

About Keep Australia Pet Friendly (KAPF)

The Keep Australia Pet Friendly campaign was launched in 2016 by Dr Chris Brown. The initiative has brought together academics, politicians, health organisations and pet owners to give a voice to pets and companion animals across Australia that are proven to make a significant impact to our health and our hip pocket. You can follow the campaign on social media using #KeepAusPetFriendly.


  1. Healthcare Economics of Pets. July 2017. Commissioned report by Blue Green Economics
  2. Headey & Grabka 2007 Pets and Human Health in Germany and Australia: National Longitudinal Results. Social Indicators Research. Vol 80, No 2 pp. 297-311
  3. Headey B (1998) health benefits and health cost savings due to pets: preliminary estimates from an Australian national survey. Social Indicators Research, 47, 233-243
  4. Headey B, Na F and Zheng R (2008) Pet dogs benefit owners’ health: a natural experiment; in China. Social Indicators Research, 87(3), 481-493
  5. Companion Animal Economics 2017. The Economic impact of companion animals in the UK. University of Lincoln