Pets turn pet interest in cities amid pandemic

By Dy Tung   November 24, 2021 | 07:00 am PT
Vietnam is the second market in Southeast Asia in terms of interest shown in buying pets during lockdown times, according to Malaysia-based market research firm iPrice.

The report, which analyzed Google searches for pets in Southeast Asian countries, said the pandemic seemed to have sparked great interest in buying pets in the region.

There were 1.9 million searches for pets in Vietnam in the first nine months of the year, up from 1.7 million and 1.4 million during the same period in 2019 and 2018, respectively.

Vietnam was second after the Philippines, which had nearly 7 million searches in the first nine months.

In Southeast Asia as a whole, the number of searches for pets and pet-related terms on Google in the region reached 12.9 million in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 88 percent year-on-year.

iPrice found that there was a higher demand for dog ownership in the region, when the interest in dogs was five times more than in cats. In Vietnam, the interest in dogs was 5.7 times higher.

The report noted that there was a strong correlation between the demand for pets and the severity of the pandemic and travel restrictions.

Yen Nhi in HCMC's Binh Thanh District bought a hybrid Russian cat with blue eyes and white fur named Milk in May, around the time the fourth Covid-19 wave struck Vietnam.

Milk, Yen Nhis cat, during the recent lockdown. Photo courtesy of Nhi

Milk, a cat bought by HCMC resident Yen Nhi during the recent lockdown. Photo courtesy of Nhi

Nhi said buying the cat was the correct decision. "I think investing in pets is worth it. Having a cat during the social distancing period made me feel less lonely."

The report said that the fight against the virus was not over in the region, so one of the ways in which people were looking for relief from mental stress was to spend time and money on a beloved pet.

This has seen demand for pet-related products rise strongly. In fact, the market research firm said that Vietnam’s impression on pet supplies surged by 220 percent this year, higher than the Philippines at 145 percent.

Some dog and cat owners said that the increased demand was also due to the mentality of hoarding pet food, just in case the supply from abroad was interrupted by the pandemic.

Yen Nhi said that since she got her cat, she was spending about VND1 million ($43.96) each month on cat food like pate and treats, litter box and toys. A medical exam and vaccination costs about VND500,000.

Nguyen Phuong from Hanoi's Cau Giay District, the owner of a gray British cat nearly 2 years old, spent more than VND2 million on an automatic feeding machine a few months ago to ensure that her cat was fed in case she ended up testing positive and going into isolation.

"I also store more food and sand. For example, instead of buying only one bag of cat food at a time, I purchase two. In June, the price for cat food at my local pet store increased 5-10 percent due to scarcity," she said.

Moc Mien in HCMC's Binh Chanh District owns an Akita dog named Hachi. She said the cost of raising her dog has skyrocketed in the past four months, having to have dry food, treats, anti-mites medicine and other products delivered after the city imposed its stay-at-home order.

Moc Mien dog Hacichi, a Akita dog breed. Photo courtesy of Mien

Hachi, an Akita owned by HCMC resident Moc Mien. Photo courtesy of Mien

She had to buy what she needed through an online community group at prices one and a half times higher than in the supermarket.

"During the quarantine period, besides taking care of my own food, I also fed my dog some human food because pet stores were deemed non-essential and not allowed to open, like supermarkets," Mien said.

She said the extra money spent was worth it because Hachi helped calm her down during lockdown.

"Taking care of Hachi made me feel less bored during social distancing. Without Hachi, the four-month lockdown would have had negative psychological effects."

Google impressions on the pet supplies category in the first 10 months this year increased by 158 percent against the same period last year across Southeast Asia, with Thailand posting the highest increase of 350 percent.

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