Survey says: owners taking good care of their pets

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Whose office do you visit more: your physician's or your veterinarian's? According to a national survey of pet owners, two thirds of respondents take their pet to the veterinarian more than they see their own doctor.

What does this mean? Findings from the American Animal Hospital Association's 1999 Pet Owner Survey suggest that pet owners are taking better care of their pet's health than ever before.

More than eight in 10 respondents have had their pets neutered, and more than half have taken time off work to care for a sick pet.

"These survey results," said AAHA president-elect, Dr. Thomas Cusick, "indicate that pet owners are getting the message that by caring for their pet's health, including visiting the veterinarian regularly, they can ensure their pet remains a healthy, happy member of the family for as long as possible."

In an effort to learn more about people's relationships with their pets, the AAHA annually surveys pet owners about their day-to-day interactions with their pets. Twelve hundred owners from 40 US states and 11 Canadian provinces completed the ninth annual survey, conducted through AAHA veterinarians.

Of the survey respondents:

  • 84 percent refer to themselves as their pet's mom or dad
  • 3 percent have pet health insurance
  • 72 percent of married surveyed respondents greet their pet first when they return home
  • 63 percent celebrate their pet's birthday, and 43 percent give their pet a wrapped gift
  • 44 percent have used the Internet to find pet information, with breed research (62 percent) being the most common reason

"Pets are clearly becoming an integral part of the American family, enjoying much of the same attention, care, and treatment that is given to a child or spouse," Dr. Cusick said.

The majority of survey respondents were married women between the ages of 25 and 54, with no children under 18 living in the home.