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May 2005 / issue 6 visit us online at:

National Pet Owners Survey

The 2005-2006 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey Cites Largest Growth in Pet Ownership In Two Decades

Watch for your company’s complimentary copy of the 2005/2006 National Pet Owners Survey in the mail later this month!

It’s “reigning” cats and dogs and all other pets in this country according to the latest statistics from the 2005-2006 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey.

New figures just released from the 2005/2006 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey report pet ownership is currently at its highest level, with 63% of all U.S. households owning a pet. This translates to more than 69 million households in the United States stating that they currently own a pet; with almost one-half of these households owning more than one pet. That number is up from 64 million in 2002 and 51 million in 1988 when APPMA began to track trends in U.S. pet ownership and pet product consumption.

According to The Survey, Americans own approximately 73.9 million dogs, 90.5 million cats, 139 million freshwater fish, 9.6 million saltwater fish, 16.6 million birds, 18.2 million small animals and 11 million reptiles. In multiple pet owning households, dogs and cats are the most popular “other” pet to own.

Motivators of Pet Ownership

The steady increase in pet ownership confirms that Americans realize that pets truly enhance their lives. According to The Survey, regardless of the species of pet, owners love them because of the affection, love and companionship pets offer. Owners also enjoy just watching their pet because this truly relaxes them and relieves stress from everyday life. Pets also teach children responsibility not offered by any other activity and offer children energetic activities as alternatives to television and computer games.

Other popular reasons pets are owned are to help elderly and handicapped people manage everyday tasks and to help owners feel safe and secure in their home.

America’s Pet Owners

According to The APPMA Survey, at an average age of 47 years, American pet owners are younger than the rest of the U.S. population and have a higher average household income of $44,000. They are considered to have a traditional family composition, are more likely to own their home and often have one or more children in the household. The geographic location of pet owners closely images that of the U.S. population, with pet owners living in large cities and rural areas. Thus, some pets are mainly kept outdoors while others enjoy the comforts of luxurious bedding and pet condos, dressed in their booties, sweaters or rain slickers.

Shopping For Pet Products

American pet owners most often become aware of pet products from browsing in a store (58%), or through television or print ads. Web surfing is on the rise as a means of product awareness, but still falls below the product recommendations from a veterinarian, pet store personnel or that of a friend or relative.

Once the pet owner decides on a product, it is most often a 46 year-old female who makes the purchase. Most pet owners prefer discount stores for the selection of items offered and prices. However, specialized pet stores have more knowledgeable salespeople, which attract owners of saltwater fish, birds, reptiles and small animals.

Growth Segments In The Pet Products Market

More pets than ever before are reported to be overweight. In fact, 16% of dogs, 14% of cats and 1% of birds are considered to be “obese” and weight control pet food has become the fastest growing segment in the pet food industry as reported by American pet owners.

More owners than previously reported now use pet food specific to their type of pet, whether it is food fortified with special vitamins, minerals or other nutrients. Gourmet, kosher, all natural and raw food diets are also popular, as is food specially formulated for young pets, middle aged or older pets.

Odor control products are becoming increasingly more important to pet owners, to control their pet’s odor or to control the odor of their home. Dental products, including those to control a pet’s breath, toothpaste, toothbrushes and mouth disease are also growing. In fact, 10% of dogs have received dental services from their veterinarian in the past 12 months.

Also on the rise is the purchase of products to help pet owners who are on the go. When traveling with their pet, owners take advantage of the growing variety of carriers, ramps for cars, restraint devices and window edge cushions for cars to keep their pet safe and comfortable. Although 19% of dog owners take their pet with them when they travel for at least two nights, 42% of dog owners, 65% of cat owners and about 50% of bird, small animal and reptile owners have a friend come to the home to care for their pet. This practice leaves open a great opportunity for the purchase of self-watering systems and feeders, as well as time-release and self-entertaining toys.

Since American pets are often considered to be part of the family, it is not surprising that treat-giving has increased significantly, with 88% of dog owners, 65% of cat owners, 73% of bird owners and 75% of small animal owners giving treats to their pets. Also, as compared to previous years, pet owners report spending more on the purchase of toys than ever before.

As a new question in The Survey indicates, American pet owners are giving a good deal of thought to the final resting place of their beloved pet. Pet owners are showing a strong interest in urns and memorials with one out of ten dog and cat owners interested in purchasing a headstone to commemorate their pet.

Stampeding into The Survey for the first time is the tracking of horse ownership. While 4% of U.S. households own a horse, 3% of these owners board their horses at home and 1% board their horse elsewhere. Also of notable interest is that 80% of horse owners also have a dog.

Since Americans often look for any opportunity to celebrate, let’s not overlook their passion for novelty gift items and parties for their pets. The overall majority of pet owners buy their pet a gift, usually for Christmas or often for no special occasion at all, spending an average of almost $20 per pet gift. Pet parties are on the rise, with a reported 9% of dog and 5% of cat owners holding birthday parties for their pets.

There Is Strength In Numbers

Put the numbers to work for you by arming yourself with the valuable statistics that can only be found in the 2005-2006 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey! This Survey provides you with the powerful tools you need to make important decisions for your business.

All APPMA member firms receive one complimentary copy of The Survey – an $895 value – but you can equip your whole staff with additional copies at a deeply discounted member rate.

For more information about the 2005-2006 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey, to view the complete Table of Contents and to order additional member copies go to

We welcome your feedback and suggestions! To share your comments on this year’s edition, ideas for upcoming volumes or to become involved in the development of the next Survey, please contact us by email at

Still Need More Data?

Customized Reports based on the data in the 2005-2006 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey are available. These reports will be written and priced based on your individual requests and will remain proprietary to your company. For more information, contact us by email at or call the Member Services Department at 203-532-0000 ext. 521.