Post-COVID Rise in Pet Ownership Evident & Persistent

APPA Home / Events & News / Blog Post
December 7, 2023
Woman holds a new pet cat in front of a Christmas tree

Pet ownership is on the rise and the data suggests that it won’t be slowing down any time soon. What is causing more Americans to welcome new pets to their households? National Pet Owner Survey data shows a clear turning point in the ownership growth trend: COVID-19.

As the Strategic Insights for the Pet Industry: Pet Owners 2023 & Beyond report shows, there is a significant difference in the growth of pet ownership between the decade preceding COVID-19 and the years following the pandemic. Looking back at the decade prior to the pandemic, there was a 4.7% growth in American pet ownership from 2009-2019. In comparison, that growth rate more than doubled to 9.77% growth in American pet ownership from 2020-2022.

Research indicates that this increase in pet ownership will be long-lasting and that the effects of COVID-19 will continue to impact the pet industry. Let’s take a closer look at the motivations for pet ownership to help understand why the COVID-19 pandemic had such a significant impact on American pet ownership in recent years. 

Top 3 Reasons Pet Owners are Purchasing/Adopting/Fostering a New Pet

So why did the global pandemic lead more Americans to adopt, foster, or buy new pets for their families? The Strategic Insights for the Pet Industry: Pet Owners 2023 & Beyond report shares three key motivators for pet ownership, all of which have had a significant increase following the pandemic. 

1. “It’s the right time because we’re spending more time at home.”

48% of pet owners chose to foster, adopt, or buy a new pet post-pandemic since they were spending more time at home. For busy Americans, COVID-19 represented a significant pivot in lifestyle. Office closures and the rise of remote work led many successful professionals to spend the majority of their time at home. Pet owners indicated that this felt like the perfect time to bring a new pet into their family since they wouldn’t have to worry about leaving their new furry (or scaly) friend alone.  

2. “My family wanted a pet.”

Family dynamics often play a role in adding a new pet to the household, but even the desire for families to have a pet increased during the global pandemic. Before COVID-19, 43% of pet owners chose to adopt a new pet based on their family members’ wishes, and post-COVID, 47% of pet owners cited this reason. This increase is significantly different at a 95% confidence level.  

3. “I was home alone and wanted pet companionship.”

With quarantine restrictions, social distancing, and other pandemic precautions in place, more Americans than ever found themselves home alone and feeling lonely. This led 25% of pet owners to welcome a new pet into their family. Being able to rely on the company of a loving pet is a key reason for growing pet ownership post-pandemic, and speaks to the mental health benefits of pet ownership. 

While most companies are returning to the office, many workers will still benefit from increased time at home compared to the pre-pandemic norm. As CNBC reports, “Workplace experts agree that most organizations will stick with the post-pandemic norm of spending two to three days per week in the office.” It’s likely the resulting normalization of remote- and hybrid-work schedules will continue to play a key role in motivating pet owners when bringing new pets into the family. 

Explore Data Insights from the National Pet Owners Survey

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) recently released a new report, Strategic Insights for the Pet Industry: Pet Owners 2023 & Beyond. For pet industry leaders and business stakeholders, the insights provided in the report can shape the strategic decisions to enable growth and success moving forward. Access the report for instant digital download today.


  1. American Pet Products Association. (publication). Strategic Insights for the Pet Industry: Pet Owners 2023 & Beyond (pp. 8).

  2. Smith, M. (2023, September 11). 90% of companies say they’ll return to the office by the end of 2024-but the 5-day commute is “dead,” experts say. CNBC.