Pet ownership is on the rise in the U.S., with dogs leading the way and large increases in the number of less traditional pets like poultry and lizards, according to recently released data from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Nearly 57 percent of all U.S. households owned a pet at end of year 2016, according to the 2017-2018 edition of Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, the AVMA’s source of data on pet ownership and related habits of U.S. pet-owning households.
“This is a fascinating look into the world of pets as well as the people and veterinarians who love and care for them,” said AVMA president John de Jong, DVM. “Examining current trends in pet ownership and care provides our members with information they can use to better serve their clients and protect the health and welfare of their pets.”
Approximately 38 percent of households nationwide own one or more dogs—the highest estimated rate of dog ownership since the AVMA began measuring it in 1982. Cats were the next most popular pet, found in 25 percent of U.S. households.
More people than ever own specialty or exotic pets, such as fish, ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, turtles, snakes, lizards, poultry, livestock, and amphibians. The incidence of poultry owned as pets climbed 23 percent in five years.
Pet ownership is highest in more rural states. The five states with the highest percentage of pet-owning households in 2016 were: Wyoming (72 percent), West Virginia (71 percent), Nebraska (70 percent), Vermont (70 percent), and Idaho (70 percent).
The five states with the lowest percentage of pet-owning households were: Rhode Island (45 percent), South Dakota (46 percent), New Jersey (47 percent), Illinois (49 percent), and Maryland (49 percent).
The sourcebook also looks at who visits a veterinarian, how frequently, and under what circumstances. Survey findings show dog owners have a higher propensity to obtain veterinary care than owners of other types of pet.
The report is available for purchase on AVMA’s website.