Pet ownership is on the rise

Published on November 19, 2018
information-circle This article is more than 3 years old

AVMA study provides economic insights & data to drive veterinary care conversations

Pet ownership is on the rise in the United States, with dogs leading the way and large gains among less traditional pets like poultry and lizards, according to the latest edition of the AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook.

Newly released by the AVMA, the report offers the most comprehensive and authoritative data available on pet ownership and related habits of U.S. pet-owning households. It's both a valuable data source for companion animal practices and an important tool to drive conversations about the importance of veterinary medicine and veterinarians.

The full report is now available for purchase in the AVMA Store, and AVMA members have free access to a complimentary copy of the report’s executive summary.

What do the numbers show?

Nearly 57 percent of all U.S. households owned a pet at the end of 2016, with dogs and cats still the most popular pet choices. The rate of dog ownership was the highest since the AVMA began measuring in 1982, with approximately 38 percent of households nationwide having one or more dogs. Cats were the next most popular pet, found in 25 percent of U.S. households.

Other types of pets have become increasingly popular. More households than ever own specialty or exotic pets, such as fish, ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, turtles, snakes, lizards, poultry, livestock and amphibians. More than 13 percent of U.S. households owned a specialty or exotic pet at year-end 2016, a 25 percent increase from 2011. Ownership of poultry as pets climbed 23 percent in five years, with 1.1 percent of all U.S. households now claiming poultry as pets.

Pet ownership is highest in more rural states and generally lowest in more urban states. The 10 states with the highest percentage of households owning pets in 2016 were:

  • Wyoming (72%)
  • West Virginia (71%)
  • Nebraska (70%)
  • Vermont (70%)
  • Idaho (70%)
  • Indiana (69%)
  • Arkansas (69%)
  • Mississippi (65%)
  • Oklahoma (65%)
  • Colorado (65%)

At the other end of the spectrum, these 10 states had the lowest percentage of pet-owning households:

  • Rhode Island (45%)
  • South Dakota (46%)
  • New York (50%)
  • New Jersey (47%)
  • Maryland (49%)
  • Illinois (49%)
  • Massachusetts (49%)
  • Connecticut (50%)
  • Georgia (51%)
  • New Hampshire (52%)

Visiting the veterinarian

The AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook also looks at who visits a veterinarian, how frequently, and under what circumstances. Survey findings show that dog owners are more likely to obtain veterinary care for their pets than owners of any other type of pet. On average, in 2016, dog-owning veterinary clients made three visits to the veterinarian, while cat-owning veterinary clients made 2.4 visits.

“This is a fascinating look into the world of pets as well as the people and veterinarians who love and care for them,” said Dr. John de Jong, president of the AVMA. “Examining current trends in pet ownership and care provides our members with information they can use to better serve their clients and protect the health and welfare of their pets.”

AVMA members: Download your free summary

The AVMA conducts research on veterinary trends to help identify and fill the healthcare needs of America's pets, and to fuel critical discussions about the importance of veterinary medicine, animal healthcare, and veterinary professionals. We encourage AVMA members to download your free executive summary of the new edition of the Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook.


Add New Comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
Please verify that you are not a robot.