£1 Billion spent on giving pets the purr-fect Christmas


  • Pets set to be treated to £1 billion worth of gifts and treats this festive season
  • The average pet owner will spend £49.11 on their animal this Christmas, with Londoners spending more than double this with an average outlay of £119
  • One in seven (14 per cent) will include their pet’s signature at the end of a family Christmas card

New research1 from Direct Line Pet Insurance reveals that pets may have the happiest holidays, with Brits set to spend more than £1 billion2on their furry four-legged friends this Christmas. Over a quarter (29 per cent) of pet owners – over seven million adults – plan to buy presents for their cat or dog to open on Christmas Day along with the rest of the family.

Food and treats are the most popular presents from ‘Santa Paws’ to pets, with over two fifths (45 per cent) of owners saying it is their preferred gift choice, followed closely by toys (43 per cent).  More than a quarter (27 per cent) of owners celebrating Christmas with their pets this year will prepare a pet stocking for Christmas morning and eleven per cent will even share the build-up to Christmas by getting their pets a dog or cat specific advent calendar.

Brits who will buy gifts for their pet are set to spend an average of £49.11 on Christmas presents, with Londoners anticipating spending more than double this and splurging £118.63 on their beloved pets. Somewhat surprisingly, men spend three times the amount that women do on pet presents, forking out £76.69 on average, compared to just £24.72 spent by women.

To celebrate the season, owners are also likely to relax strict routines and change habits as 12 per cent of men and three per cent of women plan to let pets with set bedtimes stay up later than usual. Keeping with the trend of men being more likely to indulge their pets, 11 per cent will take their pet for a longer walk than usual on Christmas Day, compared to just five per cent of women.

Feeling festive, pet owners are not just sharing the Christmas spirit with gifts and behavioural rewards. One in ten (10 per cent) plan to send their pet their own Christmas card, and one in seven (14 per cent) include their pet’s name at the end of family cards sent out. Furthermore, 14 per cent of pet owners plan to buy gifts for their friends and family’s pets as well.

Table one: Top ten festive activities for owners when celebrating Christmas with their pets 

Festive activity

Percentages (%)

Number of pet owners

Planning to buy presents for their pet to open on Christmas day



Planning to buy their pet a stocking




Planning to buy presents for other people’s pets this Christmas



Planning to sign all Christmas cards from my pet as well as the family



Planning to write my pet a Christmas card




Planning to buy my pet dog/cat a specific advent calendar



Planning to take my pet out for more walks than usual this Christmas



Planning to let my pet stay up later than usual




Planning to buy presents for other people from my pet this Christmas



Planning to make my pet watch festive films with me



Source: Direct Line Pet Insurance 2017

Prit Powar, head of pet insurance at Direct Line, commented: “The relationships we develop with our pets are unconditional, and they become part of the family as soon as we meet them. It is, therefore, no surprise that so many owners are including their pets in the festivities and do not want to risk them feeling left out of the family fun.

“Making sure that your pets get a treat at Christmas is great, but owners should keep their pet’s physical and mental health in mind and ensure that all presents are suitable. We also urge all owners to make sure their pet’s routine isn’t too disrupted and they are not left alone for prolonged periods, as this can unnecessarily raise their pet’s stress levels.”

Not all owners, however, plan on spoiling their pet this year. Almost half (45 per cent) of those not planning on buying anything say that their pet doesn’t realise it’s Christmas and 44 per cent say they don’t believe in giving their pets Christmas presents. Just under a quarter (23 per cent) justify not getting their pet a present as they say their pet won’t be expecting one.

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

1 Research conducted by Opinium among 2,002 UK adults between 13 and 16 October 2017.

2 Figure calculated using the average amount a UK adult owns a pet multiplied by the percentage of UK adults in this category. 38% of UK adults claim to be planning to buy a Christmas present for their pet, with the average amount they plan to spend is £49.11. 37% of 51,767,000 (UK adult population, mid-2017) = 19,522,519 19,522,519 x 49.11 = £958,735,857.

For further information please contact:

Claire Foster

Deputy head of news 

Direct Line Group

Tel: 01651 831 672

Email: [email protected]

Antonia Green

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

[email protected]

0207 282 2967

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com/pet-cover