Pet Care Corner: Just the Facts

A monthly column presented by local experts in pet care.


“There’s an old saying,” says Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York. “Retirement starts when the last kid leaves home and the last dog dies.”


This month, we take a look at some of the recent trends in pet ownership.


Americans had 2 million fewer dogs and 7.6 million fewer cats at the end of last year than at the end of 2006.


The reasons are both economic and demographic as fewer Americans live in families, which are more likely to own pets.


It’s the first decline in dog or cat households since 1991.


Most pet owners have dogs: about 70 million of them in 36.5% of U.S. homes. Cats, at 74 million, are in 30.4% of homes.


Birds: The pet bird population was 8.3 million, down from 11.2 million. 3.1% of households owned birds, down 20.5%.


Horses: The pet horse population was 4.9 million, down 32.9%, from 7.3 million. 1.5% of households had horses they considered pets, down 16.7%.


Specialty and exotic pets: 6.5% of households owned fish. 10.6% had exotic or specialty pets, which includes fish, ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, rodents, turtles, snakes, lizards, reptiles and livestock kept as pets. Exotic and specialty pet ownership was down 16.5%.


Americans spent $50.96 billion on their pets in 2011 That’s an all-time high and the first time in history more than $50 billion has gone to the dogs, cats, canaries, guppies and the like, the American Pet Products Association said in a report.


Source: U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook 2012

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker