The objective behind owning pets has evolved over time. While in the older days pets were raised to help the household, doing labour, herding sheep, or for dairy farming, today pets are more a source of companionship. For many owners all over the world, pets become a part of the family. The way pets are raised has also changed today. With so many luxury products, specialized pet food and pet grooming services, the industry is currently booming.
Pet ownership shows an increasing trend in the U.S. according to a market research report published by Packaged Facts. This is true for many other countries as well. In this report, we look at the different aspects and the current state of pet ownership in the U.S. and across the globe.
Pet ownership in the U.S.
Pet population and ownership have always had steady growth in the U.S. The ownership rates of dogs and cats, which is the largest chunk of the pet population, stood strong even during the great recession of 2008-09. Though other types of pets saw a slight drop in ownership, the pet industry could still sustain since it is primarily dependent on dog and cat populations.
Here are some statistics reflecting the growth of pet ownership in the U.S. over the years.
- Dog ownership in the U.S. rose steadily from 68 million in 2000 to 89.7 million in 2017.
- Cat ownership in the U.S. has also seen an increase from 73 million to 94.2 million between 2000 and 2017.
- As of 2019-20, there are more than 63 million households in the U.S. that own at least one dog and 42.7 million households owning at least one cat.
- Ownership of other species like fish, birds or reptiles is substantially less, with only 5.7 million homes having a bird as a pet and 5.4 million having small animals.
These statistics show that dog and cat ownership have stood the test of time. The past trends have been used by the Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S.: Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets, 4th Edition report to suggest that in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic too, people will continue to adopt the most companionable pets. Particularly because of the isolation that people are facing during the pandemic, being mostly confined to their homes, such pets can boost their mental and physical well-being.
Pet ownership worldwide
Pet ownership trends vary from one country to another. There are a lot of factors that affect the adoption and ownership trends of pets in different countries. Starting from the economic condition of the people to the climate, culture and the human population, everything plays a role in the types of pets that people own as well as the percentage of people owning pets.
Here are a few statistics on pet ownership globally.
- As of 2016, over 50% of people had at least one pet.
- Dogs are the most popular type of pet in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, while cats are most popular in Russia, France and the U.S.
- 68% of households in New Zealand own a pet, which is the highest among all countries.
- Until 2012, India had the fastest-growing dog population in the world.
These statistics show that the majority of households worldwide have at least one pet. However, the most popular type of pet is different from one country to another. Dogs and cats lead the charts on the global front as well. This trend indicates that most people look for pets that can be good companions and respond to their affectionate gestures. Dogs and cats are capable of showing affection, and that is probably what makes them the preferred species for most pet owners worldwide.
Dog ownership facts from across the world
Though dogs can be crowned the most popular pets almost everywhere around the globe, it is seen that there are some stark differences when it comes to dog ownership and dog populations in different countries.
Below are some statistics and facts on dog ownership from different countries of the world.
- As of 2012, Brazil had the highest number of small dogs per capita.
- Europe has the highest spending on feeding their dogs.
- The dog population across Asia in 2012 was found to be dwindling in general, but the Philippines stood out with one pet dog against eight people in the country.
- Middle Eastern countries have some of the lowest dog population as dogs are considered as unclean animals in Islamic traditions.
In many countries, though the population of dogs is fast increasing, there is very little awareness of how to raise them. Particularly in poorer countries, people do not have the resources to take good care of dogs, and a majority of the dog population can actually be attributed to stray dogs.
Cultural preferences and beliefs are also seen to affect the percentage of dog ownership in a country, as seen in the case of Islamic countries of the Middle East.
Pet ownership trends in the U.S. in 2019-20
Though there are very few recent studies relating to pet ownership in the U.S., an attempt has been made to gather some relevant trends in U.S. pet ownership from 2019-20.
- Pet ownership in the U.S. has increased from 56% to 67% between 1988 to 2019.
- The spending on pets by U.S. pet owners is also seen to be increasing. In 2019 a total of $95.7 billion was spent on pets, which was expected to increase to $99 billion in 2020.
- 95% of homebuyers put their pets’ needs ahead of everything else when buying a home.
- 19% of pet dogs are adopted from animal shelters in the U.S., while buying from breeders also accounts for 19%.
The increase in the percentage of pet ownership in the U.S. could be an indicator of the improved economic status of U.S. households. Caring for pets is an expensive affair, with all the feeding, grooming and medical expenses involved. Without better earning capability, it would be unlikely to see such a growth in pet ownership.
It is also seen that pet owners in the U.S. give their pets priority over many other things, as evident from the homebuyer’s survey. This means that most of the U.S. pet owners consider their pets as part of the family and are concerned about their comfort as they would be for any other member of the family.
The percentage of dogs being adopted from shelters and that of dogs bought from breeders is the same in the U.S. It is heartening to see that many people are opting for adoption from shelters as animals in shelters are mostly rescued animals. While breeders breed dogs for sale, it is always better to help an animal in need rather than buy one as a commodity and seeing U.S. pet owners giving equal priority to shelter animals is great news. There is hope that the adoption rate from shelters will increase in the future.
Generation wise pet ownership trends in the past decade
The age of the owner plays an important role in pet ownership as well. Millennials think differently from the Baby Boomers, while GenZers think at a completely different level. How each generation perceives owning a pet affects the percentage of pet ownership overall.
Here are some related statistics from the Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S.: Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets, 3rd Edition published in 2019
- Millennial pet owners between 25 to 39 years of age constitute 27% of all pet owners in the U.S.
- Pet ownership among adults aged between 55 to 74 years of age increased from 50 to 54% between 2008 and 2018.
- Whereas pet ownership among 18- to 39-year-old adults saw a drop from 63 to 61%.
- Surprisingly, in the last ten years, pet ownership among the 70+ generation saw a rise from 41 to 45%. This was not seen previously, and pet ownership was always found to drop after 70 years of age.
These statistics give a very clear picture of how pet ownership is affected by the owners’ age. It is evident that the Boomer generation seeks companionship from a pet as they age. Pet owners above 70 have also, apparently, felt the need for a companion in a pet and understood how a pet improves their wellbeing, which is why there is a sudden rise in the percentage here.
Though the percentage of millennial pet owners doesn’t seem substantial, they are very crucial to the pet industry as most people in this generation have adopted young animals that gives rise to the need for more pet products. Also, millennials own more animals than other species like fish, birds, smaller mammals and reptiles, which is not common among the Boomer generation. This makes them an important consumer group for the pet market as well.
The scenario of pet ownership in the U.S. as well as globally will continue to change with time. There are so many factors that impact people’s ability and desire to own a pet. As long as these dynamics keep changing, be it the economy or people’s awareness towards animal rights, these numbers are bound to be unstable. The current trend, however, shows a rising pattern with more and more people coming forward to adopt an animal. If this trend in pet ownership continues, it would definitely be good news for animal shelters and the pet industry too.