Housing and housing assistance pathways with companion animals: Risks, costs, benefits and opportunities

Wendy Stone, Emma Power, Selina Tually, Amity James, Debbie Faulkner, Zoe Goodall, Caitlin Buckle

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review

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Australia is a nation of companion animal owners. Over 60 per cent of Australian households (5.7 million) include a pet and more than half own at least one cat or dog (Animal Health Alliance 2013; Animal Medicines Australia 2016).For the majority, pets are considered a vital part of the family (Franklin 2006; Power 2018). Extensive international evidence and an emerging evidence base in Australia indicates widespread social, health and economic benefits of companion animal ownership for individuals and communities. Pet ownership is associated with enhanced outcomes for dementia patients and older persons (Gabriel, Faulkner et al. 2015; Morris 2016), lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, faster heart attack recovery, lower mental stress (Cutt, Giles-Corti et al. 2008)and reduced asthma risk in children (Ownby, Johnson et al. 2002). Health economists have quantified these at national levels (Hall, Dolling et al. 2016), suggesting substantial on average reduction of lifetime personal and service costs. However, despite the ubiquity of pets within Australian households, the high value that households place on pets, and evidence of benefits that pets bring to individuals and broader society, the right of households to keep pets varies markedly depending on the housing sector and tenure within which they live. These variable rights have the potential to not only impact some households’ ability to choose to obtain a companion animal, they also significantly influence the housing trajectories of households that already include companion animals.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherAustralian Housing and Urban Research Institute
Number of pages107
ISBN (Print)978-1-922498-17-5
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAHURI Final Report
PublisherAustralian Housing and Urban Research Institute
ISSN (Print)1834-7223


  • companion animals
  • housing policy
  • tenure
  • Housing assistance
  • Pet ownership


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