Where the (not-so) wild things are: AVMA releases data on top, bottom states for dog, cat and overall pet ownership

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Idaho has gone to the dogs, Vermont is crawling with cats, while Wyoming can stake a claim as pet capital of the country, according to recently released data from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The 2017-2018 edition of the AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, the most comprehensive and authoritative source of data on pet ownership and related habits of U.S. pet-owning households, found that nearly 57 percent of all U.S. households owned a pet at end of year 2016. But some states prove to be much more pet friendly than others, with Wyoming, where 72 percent of households own a pet, leading the way. Rhode Island, at 45 percent, had the lowest percentage of pet ownership. 

Pet ownership tends to be highest in more rural states. The 10 states that had the highest percentage of pet-owning households in 2016 were:


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

Pet ownership is generally lower in urban states. The 10 states with the lowest percentage of pet-owning households were:


  • 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%)

Overall, 38.4 percent of U.S. households had a dog as a pet. The 10 states with the highest percentage of dog owners at year-end 2016 were:


  • Idaho (58%)
  • Montana (52%)
  • Arkansas (52%)
  • Mississippi (51%)
  • West Virginia (50%)
  • Indiana (49%)
  • Oklahoma (48%)
  • Colorado (47%)
  • Nebraska (47%)
  • Tennessee (47%)

The 10 states with the lowest percentage of dog owners were:


  • New Hampshire (24%)
  • Connecticut (24%)
  • Rhode Island (26%)
  • New York (27%)
  • Vermont (28%)
  • Massachusetts (29%)
  • New Jersey (29%)
  • Maryland (30%)
  • Illinois (31%)
  • South Dakota (32%)

Overall, 25.4 percent of U.S. households had a cat as a pet. The 10 states with the highest percentage of cat owners at year-end 2016 were:


  • Vermont (45%)
  • Maine (44%)
  • West Virginia (38%)
  • Indiana (38%)
  • New Hampshire (36%)
  • Iowa (36%)
  • Arkansas (35%)
  • Idaho (33%)
  • Wisconsin (32%)
  • Kansas (32%)

The 10 states with the lowest percentage of cat owners were:


  • Rhode Island (17%)
  • Maryland (19%)
  • New Jersey (19%)
  • Louisiana (19%)
  • Georgia (20%)
  • Texas (21%)
  • Illinois (21%)
  • New York (21%)
  • Montana (23%)
  • California (23%)

Other pets
While state-by-state data isn't available, more people than ever across the United States 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. The incidence of poultry owned as pets climbed 23 percent in five years, with 1.1 percent of all U.S. households now claiming poultry as pets.

"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 may download a complimentary copy of the report's Executive Summary. The entire report is available for purchase​ from the AVMA's website. Members of the media may request a complimentary media copy.

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.