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Opportunities in Canada’s pet care market.

Canada is a pet-loving country.

As per the Pet Food Association of Canada, 63% of Canadians owned pets in 2020, with at least one dog or cat in the household – translating into more than 7.7 million dogs and 8.1 million cats owned by Canadians that year. The overall pet population in Canada stood at 27.9 million pets in 2020, up from 27.5 million in 2016.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have spent more time at home thanks to remote work and lockdowns – situations that spurred an increase in demand for new pets. According to a June 2021 national survey by Abacus Data, there’s been an 18% increase in pet ownership in Canada and approximately 3% of Canadians who didn’t have a pet before the pandemic have since added a furry friend to their household. This, in turn, positively impacts sales of pet care items such as food, treats, beds, toys, litter, and grooming. Overall spend in those categories increased by 117% during the last 18 months. Veterinarians have also been busy – more pets means more veterinary clients.

Canada is predicted to have 28.1 million pets in 2021, and that number is expected to grow to 28.5 million by 2025. The Canadian pet market (including food, supplies and services) is worth US$7 billion. In the pet food category alone, retail sales are CA$4.2 billion and are expected to increase to CA$5.3 billion by 2025. Dog food is the largest pet food category (65.4% market share), followed by cat food (32.7% market share).

Another pandemic-related trend – a focus on better nutrition and self-care – doesn’t apply solely to humans. Pet owners have become just as conscious of the well-being of their pets. Sensibill’s July Barcode report detailing pet-related spend in Canada during the pandemic found that “… as consumer spending on specialty diet pet food increased during COVID, so too did the consumer spending on vegetables & fruits and personal grooming supplies.” The trend toward healthy pet products has accelerated during the pandemic with growth in higher quality premium treats and food (including natural products), pet supplements, and vitamins, primarily in the dog and cat categories. Many pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family, and are willing to spend more on products that offer extra health and wellness benefits and contribute to longer, healthier lives. (More statistics and facts are available in PIJAC Canada‘s webinar Product Innovation and Pet Food Shopper Psychographics.)

eCommerce in the pet sector has accelerated during the pandemic (as it has with other sectors) and will continue via various purchasing channels that offer convenience and greater safety. Subscription services with auto replenishment are trending in the pet industry; PetSmart is one example, offering customers the “Autoship” program that conveniently delivers products at the customer’s chosen frequency.

As people continue to spend more time at home, pet ownership will grow in lockstep with pet spending – offering opportunities for new and innovative products and services to enter the Canadian market.


Photo courtesy Pexels

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