New National Pet Owners Survey Details Two Decades of Evolving American Pet Ownership

New National Pet Owners Survey Details Two Decades of Evolving American Pet Ownership

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- American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) Releases 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey (NPOS), the Most Comprehensive Consumer Research Examining Demographics, Buying Habits, and Other Traits of U.S. Owners of Dogs, Cats, Fish, Birds, Horses, Reptiles, and Small Animals -

(GREENWICH, Conn.), June 18, 2007 – Pet ownership remains at an all time high, dogs still rule as the largest group of pet owners, recent catastrophes demonstrate the length owners go for their pets, increased pet services, better availability and types of care products, improved veterinary care and medicines have universally affected pet ownership, and the emotional connection between an owner and their pet is stronger than ever according to American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey (NPOS).

Since the first National Pet Owners Survey was published in 1988, the market has undergone many changes, first and foremost, incomparable growth in the number of pets owned.
Pet ownership is currently at its highest level with 71.1 million households in the U.S. owning at least one pet (63% of the 113,707 million U.S. households). The steady increase is up from 69 million households in 2004, 64 million households in 2002 and 51 million households in 1988 when APPMA’s research began. According to the 375 page survey that tracks hundreds of pet ownership trends, there are 74.8 million dogs, 88.3 million cats, 142 million freshwater fish, 9.6 million saltwater fish, 16 million birds, 24.3 million small animals, 13.4 million reptiles and 13.8 million horses. An estimated $40 billion will be spent this year on these American Pets.

Changes that have universally affected pet ownership include; an explosive rise in the availability of pet accessories, increased uses of pet care services such as grooming, sitting, hotels and training, a meteoric rise in the use and efficacy of oral and topical flea and tick products, a greater variety of food and treat choices including organic, kosher and gourmet, better dental care including brushing, flossing and breath odor control, improved veterinary care and medicines helping pets live longer, increased use of homeopathic medicines, streamlined information sources, and a widespread expansion of pet care items and odor controlling products.

“In the past few years, the pet industry has experienced unparalleled traumatic catastrophes including Hurricane Katrina and the recent pet food recall,” said Bob Vetere, president of APPMA. “Both events demonstrate just how much pets mean to us, the lengths we are willing to go for them and the resiliency of the industry. Hurricane Katrina led to improvements in emergency preparations and disaster planning and while there are still many questions to be answered surrounding the food recall, a positive outcome is that it has brought forth a greater understanding and education among pet owners of pets’ nutritional needs.”

Nutrition and Food
After the devastation of the 2007 pet food recall, pet owners nationwide became increasingly aware of the food and treats they were feeding their pets. And, of the research conducted in 2006, this survey notes only modest increase of pet owners who consider specially formulated pet food worth the extra time and money, statistics that have likely already increased. However, pet owners who choose specially formulated or organic pet food said their pets enjoyed subsequent benefits including prevention of obesity and other medical conditions, hairball management and maintenance of a healthy coat. Among dog owners, the most common specially formulated food fed to their pets is almost equally distributed between puppies, middle aged pets and senior pets.

Disaster Relief Preparedness
In the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane season, more than 600,000 known pets were displaced, injured or killed. The NPOS recorded a majority of all pet owners said they would take some type of action to ensure their pet was cared for during a disaster situation. In the event of an emergency evacuation, almost seven-out-of-ten total dog, cat, bird and small animal owners said they would take their pets with them, and less than 10% say they would bring their pet to an animal shelter.

Loss of Pet
Losing a pet is always difficult and according to the survey, nearly three-out-of-ten pet owners decide to memorialize their pet in some way. The most common item pet owners would buy is a memorial/garden stone for the home/yard. Another product rising in popularity is an urn for lost pet’s ashes as 15% of dog owners and 11% of cat owners purchased an urn in 2006.

Green Pet Products
With global warming and the increased need for green, earth friendly products, it’s no surprise the pet industry is doing its part to offer pet owners environmentally friendly products including recycled packaging, biodegradable toys and organic food and treats.

Health Insurance
The percentage of dog owners who obtained health insurance coverage for their dog remained steady in 2006 at 3%, while the survey reports cat owners are not purchasing health insurance as much, dropping from 1% in 2004 to 0 in 2006. However, Americans are still concerned with the health of their pets. More dogs are given medication (77%) than any other pet type. Nearly as many horses (72%) have also been given medication in the past year.

Homeopathic Remedies
The use of homeopathic remedies has been steadily on the rise among dog owners since 2002. According to the latest statistics, 6% of total dog owners and 4% of cat owners prefer homeopathic remedies when caring for and treating their pet’s health.

Dental Products
According to the 2007-2008 NPOS, three-out-of-ten dog owners have dental products for their dog including a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, tartar/breath control/whitening products or floss. Around 10% of dogs and cats were taken to the veterinarian for dental care last year, however dogs are the most likely pet to have dental procedures conducted at home.

When in need of information about one’s pets, owners rely on several sources including their veterinarian, pet-store personnel and their own past experience. However, the internet has shown explosive growth since 1998 as an information provider, particularly as it relates to research pertaining to reptile and small animal ownership. Though the internet is a powerful information tool it is still not a commonly used source in creating awareness of new pet products. Television ads remain the most common means of creating awareness of new pet products.

Pets and Travel
Pet owners prefer family or friends care for their animals while they are on vacation. However, other arrangements made when pet owners travel include professional pet sitting services, boarding at a kennel, taking pets along on vacation or leaving pets home alone. According to the latest NPOS, dog owners are the most inclined pet owner to bring their pet along with them on vacation.

The Family Bed
Man’s best friend is receiving the royal treatment these days. There has been a significant increase in the percentage of dog owners who have a bed for their pet, from 18% in 2004 to 26% in 2006. Most of the growth is attributed to households in which there is only one dog, male purchasers, large dogs and dog owners in the west.

Treats and Toys
Perhaps one of the greatest joys for a pet owner is rewarding their pet with a treat or toy. According to the NPOS, seven-out-of-ten dogs, cats, and other small animals are privy to the growing market of tasty snacks and boredom-busting playthings. On average, dog owners spend $66 per year on treats and $41 per year on toys. Salt-water fish owners also spend a significant chunk of change on decorations, totaling $71 a year.

Pet Gifts
Gift giving to pets continues to rise in popularity. The NPOS shows more than one-half of all pet owners report having purchased a gift for their pet in the past 12 months, with Christmas remaining the most popular gift giving holiday. But, pet owners also shell out the big bucks on Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Hanukkah. According to the survey, dog owners are likely to buy up to seven gifts per year, whereas owners of other pets only purchase about four gifts per year. Regardless of species, more than $10 is spend on each gift.

Hoofed Pets
According to the latest statistics, the total number of households that own a horse increased by 2.4% to 4.3 million households from 4.2 million households. There is no doubt the cost of owning a horse is significantly higher than that of owning a dog, cat, or small animal and it is understandable horse owners presented a higher household income compared with other pet owners and the rest of the population. The average amount spent to purchase a horse in 2006 was $6,900 and 72% of horses receive medication and 49% receive other supplements in the span of 12 months. Despite the higher costs, close to three-quarters of horse owners feel the pleasure of riding is an invaluable benefit, relieving stress and affording companionship and affection.

Person Most Responsible for Purchasing
The average age of the person most responsible for purchasing pet products is 46 years old and typically, female.

The complete 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey with more than 375 pages of information retails for $995 and can be purchased at

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The American Pet Products Manufacturer's Association (APPMA) is the leading not-for-profit trade association serving the interests of the pet products industry since 1958. APPMA membership includes more than 900 pet product manufacturers, their representatives, importers and livestock suppliers representing both large corporations and growing business enterprises. APPMA's mission is to promote, develop and advance pet ownership and the pet product industry and to provide the services necessary to help its members prosper. Visit for more information.

Tags: APPA, Bob Vetere, Pet Products, Pet Industry, Pet Statistics, American Pet Products Association

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