2011-2012 APPA National Companion Animal Owners Survey
Research conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) finds that companion animal ownership is at its highest level in two decades and that companion animals are living longer as more owners are willing to pay for veterinary care, specialty foods, dietary supplements, and other health treatments.
From the previous survey, these 2011-2012 statistics show that the number of U.S. households owning a companion animal has increased by 2.1% to an all time high of 72.9 million. Since this survey was first conducted in 1988, the actual number of companion animal owning households is significantly higher, along with the overall number of U.S. households; the proportion of companion animal ownership has therefore remained relatively stable.
In total, there are approximately 78 million dogs, 86.4 million cats, 151.1 million freshwater fish, 8.61 million saltwater fish, 16.2 million birds, 16 million small animals, 13 million reptiles and 7.9 million equines owned in the U.S. Ownership of multiple companion animals is on the rise, with nearly 40% of all companion animal-owning households owning multiple companion animals.
Companion animal owning households are comprised of 76% “traditional families” compared to 68% within the overall U.S. population. Companion animal owners are also younger than the overall population as a whole and 63% are married versus 55% among the rest of the population.
The benefits of companion animal ownership cited by dog, cat, bird, small animal, and horse owners include companionship and love, while dog owners also cite relaxation, stress relief and exercise as benefits. Fish owners cite relaxation and stress relief, while reptile owners say their companion animals are quiet and fun to watch.
Companion animal owners are also quite willing to make expenditures on their companion animals; aside from horse owners, dog owners spent the most on their companion animals this last year, estimated at an average of $364, compared to $121 in 2008. The greatest expenses for dog and cat owners are food, boarding, and veterinary visits. For horse owners, the greatest expenses are trainers, farriers, and veterinary visits.
The use of specialty foods declined somewhat from 2010 for dogs (from 67% to 53%) and cats (from 62% to 60%). Veterinarians consider about 12% of dogs to be overweight, which amounts to approximately 9.4 million compared to 10 million in 2008. There has also been a decline in the percentage of cats considered to be overweight, from 21% in 2008 to 14%, or 12.1 million cats, in this report.
When traveling, most companion animal owners ask friends or neighbors to care for their companion animals, though more are choosing to bring their companion animals along. Those who took their companion animals along with them when they traveled for at least two nights include nearly one quarter of dog owners, 4% of bird owners, 3% of small animal owners, and 2% of reptile and cat owners, respectively. Moreover, about 1.4 million dog owners take their companion animal to work with them.