To Identify Factors Influencing the Demography of the Irish Pet Population
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2008
Martin Downes, MVB Dip Comp; Simon More
CVERA, Veterinary Science Centre, School of Agriculture Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, UCD Dublin
Belfield, Dublin, Ireland

Pets have a positive effect on the mental and physical wellbeing of pet owners. Little information exists about the demographics of the pet population in Ireland. There are concerns regarding a growing stray population, pollution, bite injuries and zoonotic disease spread. Currently there is a stray dog overpopulation in Ireland, with little change in the last 4 years. 14,598 dogs were destroyed in 2006. There is also a stray cat problem in Ireland.

The aim of this study was to identify factors influencing the demography of the Irish pet population.

A questionnaire was constructed to collect data about the demographic aspects of each household and the companion animals therein. We focused on location, building structure, social economic grade (SEG), nationality and family structure of the household, and the sex, age and source of each pet dog and/or cat. It was administered via a Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing centre to 1250 households, selected using random digit dial techniques and quota controls. The data was analysed using STATA® and SPSS®.

In Irish households, 36.6% have one or more pet dogs. 21.2% of households feed cats and 11.5% allow cats into their home. 45.6% of pet dogs and 77% of household cats were neutered, with neutering rates higher in females for both species.

Animal adopted from

Cat proportions

Dog proportions

Dog pound / animal shelter



Strayed in



Veterinary surgeon









Pet shop






SEG has a significant effect on pet ownership, with group F (farmers) more likely to have either a cat or a dog than any other SEG.

A household with children is more likely to own a dog. The presence of a feral cat population plays a key role in the uptake of cats into the household; household composition is not important in cat ownership. These factors may be due to cats having a tendency to find their home rather than a household actively seeking a cat.

For these reasons it is very important to understand the feral population of cats and further research is needed in this area. Further research is also required to understand why people are not inclined to neuter their dogs and also why they don't re-home pets from pounds or sanctuaries.

Speaker Information
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Martin Downes, MVB Dip Comp
CVERA, Veterinary Science Centre
School of Agriculture Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, UCD Dublin
Belfield, Dublin, Ireland

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