It is very easy to take the view, form the opinion, that the Spaniard as a nation have little tolerance, or love, for their animals and I wish I had a € for every time I have been told “The Spanish hate animals”.
Abuse of the Galgos, Bull Fighting, Social Media daily showing horrific abuse of cats, dogs and other animals. Hard to argue against the perception.
On the other hand over the years it has been noticeable how many more younger Spaniards Sands has been working with on our cat re-homing project, and there are many thriving vet practises (we have three here in Almerimar) as proof that many Spaniards do indeed love and look after their pets.
A recent census by the Madrid Association of Small Animal Vets (AMVAC) supports this, with 20 million pets owned in Spain (which has 46 million inhabitants), and one in four households owns at least one pet. In fact there are more dogs and cats per household in Spain than children, with the number of both cats and dogs per household is higher than the number of children, which sits at 1.32 per woman of fertile age, taken as those between 15 and 49 but who are fast diminishing in number, making the average per household around 0.8%.
Other ‘interesting’ facts from the census:
- Dogs make up 22% of the total number of pets in Spain, with 63% registered as pedigrees.
- Yorkshire terriers are the most popular, with German shepherds in second place
- An average of 1.31 dogs per household with an average cost of 814€ per year
- There are 2.3 million cats in Spain, living in fewer homes, with 8.2% of Spanish households owning a cat
- Average of 1.54 cats per household, only 20% are pedigrees with Siamese and Persian the most popular
Rather alarmingly, as it is the law to have your cat or dog microchipped in Spain (if they go outside), with so many not being chipped the census puts a caveat on their figures.
More details from the census:
The AMVAC estimates that, including food, litter where necessary, shampoo and other cleaning products for dogs, vet bills – sterilising, vaccinations and medication in the event of illness or injury – owning a pet can cost from €376 to €814 per year.
They calculate the cost at €2.23 per day for a dog, €1.47 per day for each cat, and €1.03 per day for other small pets.
In practice, the main running costs for pets who rarely need to see the vet are much lower – not counting vaccinations, which Spanish vets prefer to give only every two to four years, keeping a cat is around €2 a week or 30 cents a day.
Spain currently has around 6,000 veterinary surgeries, and 5,000 specialist animal care shops, although a high number of cats and dogs live on food bought from the pet section of mainstream supermarkets.
Veterinary clinics have been struggling more than ever since 2013 when IVA on medication and other services was forced by the government up from 8% to 21%, meaning pet-owners now avoid taking their animals for treatment or check-ups unless absolutely necessary, and leading to surgeries’ turnover plummeting.
As a result, 730 clinics have closed in less than four years, says the Association of Pet Industries (ASAC).
Whilst the idea of IVA increasing was to earn more money for the State, in practice the government is making less than ever because of vet bills becoming prohibitive and owners avoiding incurring them where they can.
In fact, ASAC fears the increased IVA could lead to a ‘public health problem’, with general pet health declining.
Animal-loving politicians have tried to push through motions to cut IVA on all veterinary-related services and products to 10%, the middle bracket – which used to be the band that applied and was previously 8% – stressing that affordable pet care would mean healthier fluffy friends and, in the long run, even more money for the government and for vets.
Some vets prefer to keep costs down for general care to encourage owners to continue to bring their animals to see them, but in order to do so and stay in business, need to make a greater mark-up on less-regular and traditionally more expensive services.
A decade ago, an antibiotic injection for a cat would be in region of €10, but is now €25; sterilising a tomcat costs at least €75 compared with about €40 in 2007 – figures which double for sterilising a queen-cat.