Report Highlights. Two out of every three American homes includes a pet, and 393.3 million pets live in the United States. Pet ownership has increased 20% since 1988. Outpacing that growth is pet owner spending, especially in matters of pet health. Dogs, cats, and fish are the most popular pets, though preferences for breeds and types of animals vary across regions.
- 85 million or 67% of American homes include a pet.
- 95% of American pet owners consider their pets to be family members.
- Freshwater aquarium fish are the most popular pet, with 139.3 million of them nationwide.
- Generation X and Millennials make up more than two thirds of all pet owners in the United States.
- Americans spend $1 billion each year on pet insurance.
Pet Ownership by State:
AL | AK | AZ | CA | CO | CT | DE | FL | GA | HI | ID | IL | IN | IA | KS | KY | LA | ME | MD | MA | MI | MN | MS | MO | MT | NE | NV | NH | NJ | NM | NY | NC | ND | OH | OK | OR | PA | RI | SC | SD | TN | TX | UT | VT | VA | WA | WV
Pet Ownership Statistics
Pet Ownership in the United States has risen steadily in recent decades, with a higher percentage of households owning pets today compared to 40 years ago.
- 84.9 million or 67% of American households own at least one kind of pet.
- 63.4 million or 53% of American households own dogs.
- Most dog-owning households have one dog.
- 42.7 million or 35.7% of households own cats.
- Cat owning households keep an average of 2 cats each.
- 11.5 million or 9.6% of households own freshwater fish.
- Freshwater fish owners keeps an average of 12 fish.
- 5.7 million or 4.8% keep birds.
- Between 3 and 4 birds live in the average bird-owning household.
- 4.5 million or 3.8% have reptiles.
- Each reptile-owning households keeps an average of 2 reptiles.
- 1.6 million or 1.3% keep horses.
- Horse owners keep between 4 and 5 horses per household.
- 1.6 million or 1.3% keep saltwater fish.
- Households with saltwater fish keep between 11 and 12 fish on average.
- 5.4 million or 4.5% have another type of small animal as a pet.
- These households keep between 2 and 3 pets.
Pet Ownership Among Generations
Pet ownership appears to be most popular among younger adults. The eldest of Generation Z are just now reaching adulthood. Wtih comparatively little data available regarding Generation Z and pet ownership, statistical meaning is doubtful.
- 73% of Millennials, born between 1981 and 1994, own pets.
- 89% of home-owning Millennials also own pets.
- 35% of all pet owners are Millennials.
- 32% of pet owners are Generation X, born between 1965 and 1981.
- 27% of pet owners are Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964.
- Just 6% of pet owners are in the Silent Generation.
Historical Pet Ownership
While it appears pet ownership among households has stagnated, there are significantly more pet owners now than there were 30 years ago. This increase may be partially explained by the growing number of medical specialists and counselors espousing the health benefits of companion animals.
- There’s been a 20% increase in pet ownership since 1988, when just 56% of American households owned a pet.
- In the 20 years between 1988 and 2008, petownership increased among U.S. households by 11%, or six percentage points.
- In the five years between 2008 and 2013, pet ownership rose 10%, or a further 6 percentage points.
- In the 25 years between 1988 and 2013, household pet ownership grew 0.9% annually.
- Since 2000, dog ownership has risen steadily by 21.9%.
- Cat ownership has cycled up and down but, overall, has increased 29% since 2000.
- Pet fish ownership has declined 12.4% since 2000.
- Bird owners increased slightly, rising 8.4% between 2000 and 2018.
Pet Ownership Among States
Pet ownership not only varies across states, but the popularity of different breeds varies from one state to the next. Wyoming’s high rate of pet ownership but relatively low rate of dog and cat ownership is likely due to the popularity of horses in this region.
- In 80% of states, over half of households include at least one pet.
- Wyoming households are the most likely to include pets.
- Households in Montana are the most likely to include dogs.
- Households in West Virginia are the most likely to include cats.
- Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Oklahoma are among the top ten states in dog ownership.
- Washington, Kentucky, Indiana, and New Hampshire are among the top ten states in cat ownership.
- Rhode Island households are the least likely to include cats and the least likely to include any kind of pet.
- Households in Connecticut are the least likely to include a dog.
|State||% of Pet-Owning Households|
*Data point unavailable.
Exotic Pet Ownership
Typically, the term “exotic pet” refers to any non-domesticated animal; this excludes animals like guinea pigs and canaries. The definition of an exotic pet varies by locale, so what is considered “domesticated” in one place may be considered exotic elsewhere.
- Exotic pets do not bond with humans the same way domesticated animals do.
- Certain states ban specific types of pets.
- Many states ban entire classes of animal, such as primates, from being ketp as pets.
- Other states require special permits for exotic animal ownership.
|Name of Animal||Description||Care Needs||Banned In|
|Bengal Cat||Smaller than wild cats, have been hybridized with wild and domestic cats||High energy, these cats need everything a “regular” cat does, plus extra exercise and mental stimulation.||Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York|
|Fennec Fox||Small, rodent-like foxes with large ears||Can be crated but need lots of freedom to roam outside. They love to play and enjoy companionship.||Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Washington|
|Hedgehog||Small, spiny creature that are neither rodent nor porcupine.||Requires enclosed habitat (similar to guinea pig’s) and specialty food||Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Pennnsylvania, New York City|
|Skunk||The same type of skunk found in the wild, though to be kept as pets, they must be de-scented||These animals are happy with a diet composed of dog food, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. They love to play, needing lots of exercise and time outside their enclosure.||Most states have banned skunks, and the ones that haven’t usually require special permits for ownership.|
Cost of Owning a Pet
The pet industry is one of the largest in the world, with the majority of its $95 billion-dollar value coming from pet food. Historically, spending for pets seems unaffected by the economy’s performance. Pet owner spending has steadily increased in every area except the purchase of live animals. The latter data may be attributable to increased awareness of animal shelters and the benefits of pet adoption.
- $1,126 is how much the average pet owning household spends on their pets each year.
- 40% of that budget goes toward food and treats.
- Annual increases in food spending are often linked to specialty and boutique foods as well as dietary trends.
- 35.7% of annual pet spending goes toward medical and veterinary care.
- Most pet healthcare procedures cost more for dogs than cats.
- 68% of dog owners say they would keep their pet care spending the same no matter what happens with the economy.
Cost of Pet Insurance
The pet insurance industry is relatively new in the United States, but it appears to be on the rise. Competative companies now offer pet insurance as part of employee benefits packages.
- 1.6% of American pet owners have pet insurance.
- 81% of all policies are combined accident and illness policies for dogs.
- Insurance premiums for dogs cost less than they do for cats by an average of $30-$50.
- The most common pet insurance claims are for minor issues, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and ear infections.
- Most companies do not insure exotic pets.
- There are several coverage options available for pets:
- Wellness/Preventative Care
- Whole Pet (covering two or more options above)
Pet health is the second-greatest expense to pet owners after their animals’ food. In general, mixed-breed animals have fewer health problems than purebreds. Some breeds are less prone to health problems than others. Some organizations, such as the Humane Society, help pet owners fund unexpected healthcare expenses.
- Some owners report spending more on their pet’s medical expenses than they do on their own healthcare costs.
- On average, dog owners take their dogs to a veterinarian 2.7 times per year.
- Bird owners take their pets to see a veterinarian the most, with an average of 3.1 vet visits per year.
- Surgery is the most expensive veterinary cost, averaging $474 for dogs, $245 for cats, and $75 for birds.
- Routine veterinary appointments cost an average of $75 more for dogs than they do for cats.
- An emergency veterinary visit costs dog owners $349 and cat owners $154 on average.
Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs
THC, the “high”-inducing component of marijuana, is toxic to dogs. The substance is especially harmful in edible form and may be deadly. This fact little-known fact becomes more relavant with the increasing number of locales decriminalizing marijuana. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends dog owners who smoke marijuana do so away from their pets and keep their supplies locked safely away.
- 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.
- 11 of thos e states have also legalized recreational marijuana.
- If dogs ingest THC, they may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Low Blood Pressure
- Low Body Temperature
- Loss of Coordination
Benefits of Pet Ownership
Medical and healthcare professionals endorse the benefits of animal companionship. Cuddling a dog or a cat is therapeutic. Aquarium fish have a calming effect. These are conclusions derived from scientific and longitudinal studies conducted or endorsed by academic, regulatory, and federal institutions.
- Pet ownership correlates with reduced blood pressure.
- Cholesterol and trigliceride levels are lower in pet owners compared to the general population.
- Pet owners engage in more physical activity and exercise than the average person.
- Companion animals and animal therapy help with depression and anxiety management.
- Anecdotal evidence shows pets reduce feelings of loneliness and increase socialization with other humans.
- Observation of aquarium fish, in addition to easing anxiety, appears to reduce perception of pain.
- Research also indicates the relaxing effect of aquarium fish may limit hyperactivity in children.
Aquarium Therapy for Alzheimer’s
A study at Purdue University concluded that daily exposure to an aquarium eases symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Patients who spent time daily observing aquarium fish experienced improvements in quality of life compared to Alzheimer’s sufferers who did not spend 30 minutes each day with a fish tank.
- Aquarium fish improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients, helping them stay more rational and mentally alert.
- Aquariums influence Alzheimer’s patients to eat up to 21% more food, with an average 17.2% increase in consumption.
- Researchers observed a decrease in the overall number and duration of instances of violence, wandering, pacing, and yelling.
- Reserachers also observed increased verbalization in patients, as well as improvements in short-term and long-term memory.
Pet Population Statistics
These numbers for the current total pet population do not include community pets. What qualifies an animal such as a horse as a pet versus a working animal is simply being identified as such.
- 393.3 million pets live in the United States.
- 139.3 million freshwater fish are kept as pets, more than any other type of animal.
- 94.2 million pet cats live in the United States.
- 89.7 million dogs are kept as pets.
- 20.3 million pet birds live in the U.S.
- 18.8 million saltwater fish are kept as pets.
- 9.4 million reptiles are kept.
- 7.6 million horses are kept.
- 14 million other types of small animals are pets.
- Insurance Information Institute, Facts + Statistics: Pet Statistics.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Healthy Pets, Healthy People.
- Forbes, “Popular Exotic Pets.”
- CheatSheet, “Pets That Are Illegal to Keep in the U.S.”
- Cuteness, “Can You Legally Own a Fennec Fox?”
- American Veterinary Medical Association, “With Legalization on the Rise, Veterinarians Warn Against Pets Getting Into Pot.”
- Pet Life Today, “The State of Pet Healthcare 2019: Guide to Pet Health, How Much Americans Spend, Common Illnesses, Treatment Tips, Financial Aid Options and More (With Infographic).”
- Business Insider, “Illinois Just Became the First State to Legalize Marijuana Sales Through the Legislature–Here Are All the States Where Marijuana is Legal.”
- Consumer Reports, “Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?”
- The Washington Post, “Is Pet Insurance Worth It?”
- American Pet Products Association (APPA), Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics
- APPA, Generational Report Volume 2: Findings
- Animal Sheltering, Pets By the Numbers
- Western Journal of Nursing Research, Animal-Assisted Therapy and Nutrition in Alzheimer’s Patients
- Millennials Put Pets First When Buying a Home
- United States Census Bureau, QuickFacts
- Pet Ownership Statistics by State 2020
- Press Democrat, California Lags Behind Much of U.S. in Pet Ownership
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri Makes Top 10 in Dog Ownership
- What are the Healthiest Breeds of Canine Companions?
- Hawaii Humane Society, Pets in Housing