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Reference Desk August 2012

AVMA Announces Survey Results on Pet Ownership, Veterinary Visits, and Spending Over Last 5 Years

    SAN DIEGO, California, August 3, 2012—The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) released early results from a study of pet ownership and veterinary spending during its recent annual convention in San Diego. The 2012 US Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, which isn’t expected to be released until this fall, is a study of pet ownership trends and veterinary expenditures conducted by the AVMA every five years.

    Results of the survey indicate a slight decline in household pet ownership over the past five years, down 2.4% from 2006 to 2011. This trend includes household ownership of dogs and cats, which were down 1.9% and 6.2%, respectively. Horse and bird ownership also declined over the same time period, as household horse ownership dropped 16.7% percent and household bird ownership declined 20.5%.

    The 2012 sourcebook will also show that dogs are still the most popular pet in America, as 36.5% of all households in the United States own a dog, compared with 30.4% owning cats. But cats are still the most common pet, with the total US population hovering right around 74.1 million, compared with 70 million dogs. Cat owners are more likely to own multiple cats—2.1 per household—compared with dog owners, who average 1.6 dogs per household.

    The study also revealed trends in veterinary spending. Of the two most popular pets in America, dog owners were revealed to be more dedicated to providing their pets with appropriate veterinary care.  In fact, total veterinary visits for dogs in 2011 increased to 130.4 million, a 9.2% increase from 2006.  Veterinary visits for cats were down 4.4% from 2006 to 2011, when there were 60.5 million visits.

    The amount of money dog owners spent on veterinary care for their pets increased to $19.1 billion in 2011, up 18.6% from 2006. Veterinary expenditures for cats remained comparatively flat, rising only 4.2% from 2006 to 2011 to $7.4 billion.

    The AVMA conducted the research for the sourcebook in the spring of 2012, surveying more than 50,000 households to collect data on pet ownership, veterinary visits, and spending.

    Source: American Veterinary Medical Association

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