With continuous growth in pet population and continuance of premiumization in pet food, the region pet care industry is forecast to be valued at around USD 2 billion by 2025.
Dog and cat population and ownership
The dog and cat populations in the UAE increased by around 10,000 animals each from 2016 to 2020, with the large dog population growing fastest, by around 6,000 animals. The dog and cat populations are forecast to slightly decrease from 2021 to 2026. There are twice as many cats as there are dogs in the UAE. Cats are the UAE's preferred pet, as approximately twice as many households in the UAE own cats. Small dogs are the most common dogs in the UAE, partly due to the fact that many shopping centres, parks and restaurants allow small dogs onto their premises. As most people in the UAE live in apartments or villas with limited outside space, small dogs are also more convenient.
Pet ownership in the UAE is mainly driven by the country's expatriate residents, which make up an around 87% of the UAE population (2020), who work in well-paid jobs and mainly live in rented dwellings in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Couples with children are the predominant household type in the UAE, accounting for nearly 60.0% of households in 2019. However, their share is projected to contract as the number of single-person and child free households are expected to increase during 2020-2040.
Pet protection law
A new pet protection law was implemented in 2018 and is believed to be having a positive effect on pet food sales. The law specifically targets pet abandonment as many expatriates abandon their pets, particularly cats, when they leave the UAE to take up jobs elsewhere. Pet owners are now obliged to properly care for their pets or face penalties or imprisonment. As a result of this new legislation, many pet owners are feeding and looking after their animals properly to avoid sanctions and this means that sales of pet food and pet care products are rising accordingly.