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As the worldwide trend of treating ‘fur babies’ as members of the family takes hold, the ‘humanisation’ of animals is changing Australia’s pet food market.

They are not just cuddled – dogs and cats are coddled.

While only hard-core pet parents might shell out for spas, day care, counselling sessions, dental treatments, heath insurance or even weddings, the majority of consumers now pamper their ‘fur children’ with premium pet food.

In its 2016 comprehensive survey of Australian pet owners, Animal Medicines Australia, the peak body representing manufacturers of veterinary medicines, found increasing numbers of people – 64 per cent, up from 59 per cent in 2013, regard their dog as a member of the family rather than just a companion.

And, according to the survey, the average annual spend on dog food is $622.

A recent IBISWorld report, A Dog’s Life, found that about one half of Australian pet owners “mix their own pet food using leftovers, table scraps and homemade food mixes”.

Meanwhile, rising discretionary spending levels and time-poor consumers have led the researcher to predict growth, with industry revenue expected to rise by an annualised 2.3 per cent over the five years through to 2016-17, to reach $1.7 billion.

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