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Latest APPA Survey Reveals Trends In Pet Ownership

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) just released its 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, which provides insight on demographics, buying habits and other traits of U.S. owners of dogs, cats, fish, birds, equine, reptiles and small animals.

Posted: April 4, 2011, 8:30 p.m. EDT

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Caring For A Pet’s Health
APPA projects that this year pet owners are expected to spend $12.2 billion for veterinary care, up from $11 billion last year and $8.2 billion five years ago. Bird owners reported the same number of visits as last year (2.0), but spent significantly more on surgical visits ($190 up from $55). Owners also took their cats to the veterinarian more often in 2010 (2.4) than in 2008 (2.1) and spent an average of $423 on surgical veterinary visits as compared to $278 in 2008. The average number of times a dog has been taken to the veterinarian in the past 12 months is almost three (2.7), which is nearly identical to the number of visits in 2008 (2.8). Interestingly, only 5 percent of dogs have been given a homeopathic remedy.

Pet Travel
While most pet owners will ask family, friends or neighbors to come to their home to care for their pets when they are traveling, an increased number will bring their pet along. Almost a quarter of owners reported they took their dog with them in the car when they traveled for at least two nights. Additionally, 4 percent of bird owners, 3 percent of small animal owners, and 2 percent of reptile and cat owners respectively travelled with their pet in the car. Unchanged since 2008, 3 percent of dog owners have taken their dog to work with them, an average of 22 times, up from 17 times in 2008. Based on the number of dog owners (46.3 million), approximately 1.4 million dog owners are taking their pet to work.

Training Devices
The percentage of dog owners currently using some type of training device or service to train their dog continues to increase while the percentage of cat owners using a training device or service has remained relatively stable. Approximately one-half of dog owners (48 percent) continue to use treats as a way to train their dog, versus 12 percent of cat owners using treats as a reward. One-out-of-ten dog owners also used an unspecified “other” device as a training method, as well as professional training, training books and videos and bitter apple.

What Pet Owners Would Do Upon The Death Of Their Pet
Upon the death of their pet, two-to-four-out-of-ten owners (with the exception of equines) would buy something to either memorialize or bury their pet. Specifically, almost all equine owners reported they would do something; usually have their horse buried at a farm. More dog owners (18 percent) would buy an urn than cat owners (12 percent), bird owners (6 percent) or small animal or reptile owners (3 percent each). Less than 4 percent of pet owners would purchase a headstone. Among dog owners, the current percentage who said they would get another pet of the same type notes a significant increase (to 39 percent from 34 percent) over 2008.

Disaster Preparedness
In the 2011-2012 APPA Survey, pet owners were asked what they would do with their pets if they were faced with a disaster situation. For most species, the majority of owners would take their pet with them. In the event a pet owner would have to choose between their dog’s or cat’s medical treatment and their own, 16 percent of dog owners and 13 percent of cat owners stated their pet’s medical treatment would take priority over their own treatment.

Gifts For Pets
The percentage of pet owners who purchased gifts for their pet in 2010 is practically parallel to what was reported in 2008. In spite of conservative consumer spending on themselves or other people, pets do not appear to be “victims” in the current economic climate. In contrast, pets appear to be the winners in these tough economic times. As a result of dog owners spending more money per gift, there is a 30 percent gain in dollars spent on dog gifts (to $73 million from $56 million dollars). Gifts are typically purchased for no special occasion but dogs, cats, birds and small animals are more likely to also receive a gift for Christmas. Additionally, the survey reports 9 percent of dog owners and 4 percent of cat owners have held a holiday or birthday party for their pet.

Economy And Pets
For the first time, the survey asked respondents if the economy influenced pet ownership in any way. The majority of pet owners reported that the economy hadn’t affected their decision to own a pet, in fact, anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of pet owners reported spending more money on their pet than in previous years. It was reported, however, that 18 percent of nonpet owners surveyed stated they did not get a pet because of the economy. These respondents are more likely to reside in the Northeast region.

Demographics
The survey also profiles who the pet owners are and where they live in the U.S. Pet owning households are more apt to be defined as traditional families (76 percent) than the U.S. population (68 percent). Pet owners are also younger than the total U.S. population as a whole and significantly more pet owners are married (63 percent) compared to the rest of the population (55 percent). Approximately one-quarter of the U.S. population and all pet owners live in rural, small towns, as do specific species owners. 

Primary Shopper For Pet Products
Unchanged since previous APPA surveys is the finding that at least three-quarters of primary shoppers for pet products are female. However, men reported spending more money on gifts for pets than women. The average age of the primary shopper for pet products remains 47 years old.

Additional Pet Ownership Trends
In addition to the information provided in the survey, APPA has noted additional trends in the pet marketplace that may affect pet ownership growth including: the total pet population continues to grow but at a slower pace; the pet industry continues to perform as recession resistant and show resilience both after September 11th and after the economic crisis throughout 2010; pet food trends mimic human food and diet trends; health and wellness focused pet products and services including pet insurance represent one of the most powerful current trends in the pet industry; pets are replacing children, so owners are even more willing to purchase products to satisfy and spoil pets; specialized pet services such as high-end grooming and daycare are projected to grow as owners continue to work; research indicates that Black and Hispanic segments are the fastest growing U.S. demographic, but have lower than average incidence of pet ownership.

The complete 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey includes more than 500 pages of trended information on pets covering the past two decades. The survey will be available for purchase online at the APPA website.

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Latest APPA Survey Reveals Trends In Pet Ownership

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Does anyone have the statistic (From this survey or otherwise) for the number of rabbits kept as pets?
Cory, Grand Rapids, MI
Posted: 5/1/2011 6:10:43 PM
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