Companion Animals In The U.S.: A 2018 Review
Companion animals are woven into the very fabric of our day-to-day lives. We feed them and shelter them, raise them and train them, we exercise with them, we (sometimes) let them sleep on our beds. When we choose to live with a companion animal, there is few parts of our lives that they aren’t a part of.
Starting in 1998, the American Pet Products Association began gathering data on living with companion animals, surveying more than 20,000 people in each year the survey was conducted. In their studies, they look at many species of companions, from dogs and cats to fishes, birds, reptiles, horses, and small animals. Using an online sample, they balanced respondents by gender, age, household size, income and region, with a quota system to ensure proper representation of sample groups.
Below, we give an overview of some of their findings.
Getting behind the numbers and into more qualitative data, the survey revealed that people have a variety of different reasons for living with their companions. Though all of the people with companions recognized benefits of companionship, love, and company, they had some different views depending on species: for example, people living with fish tended to value their companions as a hobby, and for their appearance; people with birds and reptiles liked to talk about their companions with others; and people with reptiles, cats, and small animals appreciated how convenient their companions are. When it came to identifying drawbacks many said that, in general terms, some universal drawbacks were sadness when the companion dies, cleaning up after them, the cost for food/care/medicine, and finding care for them when being away from home. People living with dogs and reptiles were the most likely to say there were no drawbacks to living with their companions (24% and 23%, respectively).
For companion animal advocates of all stripes, the results contain a wealth of information that is too extensive to summarize here. Fortunately, the APPA has made their data available to the public, and interested advocates can explore a PDF of the results here. Overall, the study does not present one single takeaway message, but instead provides a wide-reaching overview that can help companion animal advocates in virtually all areas of their work.