The maintenance cost of a pet is not a chief reason why the pet might be abandoned in Mexico, according to a Mars Petcare study, “Index of Homeless Pets,” published in October 2022. The study included nine countries, but only Mexico results are currently available.
Four of 10 (40%) of 346 dog owners who left their dogs in the street did so because of lack of time and poor commitment, the study showed, while 32% of respondents said they abandoned their dogs because of a small living space and 23% did so owing to aggressive or mischievous behavior. Only 10% of the respondents said the cost of pet food and veterinary care was the reason behind their decision.
The study reported that cat owners who abandoned their pets did so for the same reasons as dog owners.
Millions of street pets not fed commercial pet food
According to government figures, there is a total population of 43.7 million dogs and 16.2 million cats in Mexico. Yet, Triplethree International estimates the number of animals living in the streets could reach as high as 20 million dogs and 6.8 million cats.
With such large numbers of homeless dogs and cats, the pet food market faces structural restraints related to the decisions of millions of pet owners who are not accountable for their pets.
Industry leaders such as Mars Petcare support and encourage pet adoption, including through campaigns that provide food to shelters that rescue abandoned pets. However, as money is not the main reason for abandoning a pet—rather, it’s often the owner’s lack of commitment or available living space—there is little the industry can do to encourage pet adoption.
Reasons for pet abandonment will not likely change
The study conducted by Mars Petcare is essential to understand the future of the pet food industry in Mexico and worldwide. As it is not foreseeable to see living spaces improving in the coming years, a decrease in pet abandonment rates depends on increasing pet humanization: convincing pet owners to stop abandoning dogs and cats in the streets.
In this context, pet food producers may be more effective in educating pet owners to avoid pet abandonment than promoting pet adoptions. As pet abandonment diminishes, the pet food industry will benefit.