Latest APPA Survey Reveals Trends In Pet Ownership

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) just released its 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, which provides insight on demographics, buying habits and other traits of U.S. owners of dogs, cats, fish, birds, equine, reptiles and small animals.

Pets are living longer and healthier lives thanks to pet owners’ willingness to provide veterinary care, specialty foods, supplements and alternative treatment options. In fact, more than one-half of dog and cat owners report they would leap into action for an injured pet. Pet health insurance continues to be an area of growth as pet owners seek additional ways to ensure their pet’s well-being. According to the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) new 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, the number of U.S. households that own a pet has increased by 2.1% to an all-time high of 72.9 million.

Since the inception of the APPA National Pet Owners Survey in 1988, dogs and cats have accounted for nearly three-quarters of all households that own a pet. The actual number of pet owning households is significantly higher than it was 20 years ago, as is the overall number of U.S. households. While the actual number of households owning any type of pet has increased in the past 20 years, the proportion of ownership has remained relatively stable.

Both the number of pet owning households and those with multiple pets have contributed to the overall rise in total pet ownership. According to the survey, there are more than 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. Approximately four-out-of-ten pet owning households in the U.S. are multiple pet owners.

“Although the economy has been a major factor for many industries, the pet industry continues to see unprecedented growth and diversity. The survey reveals pet owners are willing to spend money on their pets despite a downturn in the economy,” said Bob Vetere, president of APPA. “More products and services are available than ever to assist in responsibly caring for a pet, so it is becoming increasingly easier to add another pet to your household.”

Below are just a few interesting facts pulled from the extensive survey that tracks hundreds of pet ownership trends:

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Owning Pets
The survey shows that pet owners are extremely consistent with attributes they consider beneficial to pet ownership. The top benefit of dog, cat, bird, small animal and equine ownership remains companionship/love/company/affection. There’s also a significant gain in the percentage of dog owners stating relaxation/relieves stress and walking/jogging/exercise as a benefit of ownership. Fish are loved for their appearance and being fun to watch and for offering their owners relaxation/stress relieving benefits. Reptile owners reported the two principal benefits associated with reptile ownership as being quiet and fun to watch and have in the household.  

Amount Spent On Pets In The Past 12 Months
Excluding equines, dog owners spent the most to purchase their pet at $364, which is significantly more than the price reported in 2008 ($121). The increased price of pure breed dogs is definitely a contributing factor in this increase. The greatest expenses for dog and cat owners are food, kennel/boarding, routine veterinary visits and surgical veterinary visits. The greatest expenses for freshwater fish owners are ponds and expenses associated with owning them. Saltwater fish owners spend the most each year on aquariums, aquarium stands and other supplies. The greatest costs associated with owning a bird are cages, routine veterinary visits and surgical veterinary visits. Owners of small animals and reptiles paid the most for food, other supplies and routine veterinary visits. The greatest expenses for equines are trainers/exercisers, farriers, routine veterinary visits and surgical veterinary visits. There are some estimates that project pet owners spend an average of $11,000 per pet during its lifetime, even in times of recession. The pet industry as a whole is expected to have spending exceed 50 billion in 2011.

Pet Obesity And Food
The use of specialty formulated food for dogs notes significant declines in 2010 (to 53 percent from 67 percent). Cat owners using a specially formulated food are down only slightly (to 60 percent from 62 percent). The percentage of dogs considered overweight by their veterinarian is 12 percent. Based on the total number of dogs in the U.S., that equals 9.4 million overweight dogs versus 10 million dogs in 2008. Among cat owners, there is a significant decline in the percentage considered overweight (to 14 percent from 21 percent), which translates to 12.1 million cats down from 19.6 million cats in 2008. Fewer overweight cats may be related to a decrease among those eating a special diet (to 9 percent from 14 percent).  There is a gain in the percentage of birds considered malnourished or overweight to 1 percent from 0.3 percent in 2008. However birds on a special diet doubled.

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