How Many Pets are in the US?

It's "reigning" cats and dogs and all other pets in this country according to the latest statistics from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA). New figures just released from APPMA's 2005-2006 National Pet Owners Survey (NPOS) show pet ownership is currently at its highest level, with 63 percent of all U.S. households owning a pet which equates to more than 69 million households. That's up from 64 million in 2002 and 51 million in 1988 when APPMA's tracking began.

According to the 375 page survey that tracks hundreds of pet ownership trends, Americans own approximately 73 million dogs, 90 million cats, 139 million freshwater fish, 9 million saltwater fish, 16 million birds, 18 million small animals and 11 million reptiles.

"The steady increase in pet ownership confirms that a growing number of us are realizing pets truly enhance our lives," said Bob Vetere, managing director and COO of APPMA. "Pets not only provide unconditional love and affection, research now shows they also provide significant health benefits."

Most pet owners agree with what research has shown. According to the survey, nearly all pet owners say companionship, love, company and affection are the number one benefits to owning a pet. Fifty-nine percent say pets are good for their health and the health of their family and help them relax. Forty percent say that owning a dog motivates them to exercise on a regular basis. It is universally agreed that pet owners are health conscious, like to look their best, like to exercise with their pet, are happy and maintain a well organized home.

Part of the Family

All this might be why pets are now an integral part of the family. Three-quarters of dog owners consider their dog like a child or family member and more than half of cat owners say the same.

There are many other interesting trends emerging from the NPOS including the following:

Pet Gifts and Parties

One trend is that gift giving to pets continues to rise with eight out of ten dog owners buying dog gifts and 63 percent of cat owners purchasing gifts for the family feline. And, the gifts aren't just purchased at Christmas, but also for birthdays, Easter, Halloween, Valentine's Day, Chanukah and on no special occasion. There's also a growing number of parties for pets with nine percent of dog and five percent of cat owners hosting birthday parties for their pets. On average, $17 is spent per gift.

Pets and Travel

A growing number of dog owners are taking the family pet with them when they hit the road. Nineteen percent of dog owners bring along their dog when traveling- that's up from 16 percent in 2002.

The Family Bed

A majority of dogs and cats sleep indoors with most preferring to sleep in their owner's bed, on a blanket or pet bed.

Nutrition and Food

Pet owners are paying more attention to nutrition with table scraps on the decline and gourmet food and food fortified with supplements and added vitamins and minerals showing gains. One percent of dog owners are also feeding dogs kosher food. Obesity is still a concern among pet owners. The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences estimates obesity will occur in 25 percent of dogs and cats. And, according to the Information Resources Inc. and Roper ASW, the weight-control market for pet food has grown 25 percent making it the fastest growing segment of the pet food industry.

Health Insurance

The number of cat and dog owners with health insurance is increasing. Currently three percent of dogs and one percent of cats have health insurance, up from two percent of dog owners and less than one percent of cat owners in 2002.

Homeopathic Remedies

This is also gaining in popularity with three percent of dog owners using homeopathic remedies (up from two percent in 2002) and nine percent of cat owners (up from two percent). The use of vitamins and supplements has also increased among dog and cat owners.

Dental Products

The use of dental products is increasing with a rapidly expanding pet dental market including products such as pet toothpaste, whitening strips, mouthwash and orthodontic products.

Treats and Toys

Giving pets treats continues to increase significantly with 88 percent of dog owners, 65 percent of cat owners, 73 percent of bird owners and 75 percent of small animal owners giving treats. This is especially prevalent in households where the pet owner thinks of their pet as a child. And when it comes to toys, compared to previous levels more owners buy toys and spend more money than ever for them.


While most pet owners still rely on their veterinarian for information, the use of the internet/online as a source of information about one's pet has steadily been climbing among owners of birds, small animals and reptiles.

Pet Owner Leisure Activities

Spending time with one's pet is considered an extremely important leisure activity. Most pet owners go to the movies or rent movies. About 80 percent of pet owners also enjoy dining out, reading and shopping.

Loss of Pet

As a newly added question to the survey, there are no comparisons in this category but a wide array of resting place options are now available for pets. Pet owners are showing stronger interest in urns. Remembrance memorials are also available which incorporate a lock of their pet's hair or some other token, mixed into perennial seeds. Another option upon the death of one's pet is to make a "created diamond" from the pet's remains. Such a ring, estimated at approximately one-half a carat, costs $2,500. Of all the "created diamonds" made to date, 20 percent have been made from a pet's remains. Almost one-out-of-ten dog and cat owners are also interested in a headstone for their pet's final resting place.

Hoofed Pets

Stampeding onto the survey for the first time is the tracking of horses. Four percent of U.S. households own a horse with three percent boarding horses at home and one percent keeping horses outside of their home. Eighty percent of horse owners also have a dog.

Pet Product Purchases

The demographics indicate that the person most responsible for purchasing pet products is a 46 year old woman.

Founded in 1958, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association is the nation's leading not-for-profit trade organization serving the interests of the pet product industry and educating the public on the many joys and health benefits associated with pet ownership. APPMA's membership consists of nearly 850 companies, which include both small businesses, as well as the nation's leading pet product companies. Every year APPMA does extensive research utilizing a number of industry and affiliated sources to track the overall size of the pet industry and also conducts a comprehensive survey of pet owners every two years. Visit APPMA online at