Whether furry, feathered, or flippers a-flapping, Americans continue to display close relationships with their pets. 2015 is expected to continue the pet industry’s more than two-decades-strong growth trend — and why shouldn’t it?
More than three in five Americans (62%) have at least one pet in their household, with ownership highest among the two youngest generations tested (65% among Millennials, 71% among Gen X). What’s more, nearly all pet owners (95%, up 4 points from 2012 and 7 points since the question was first asked in 2007) consider their pets to be members of the family – and the behaviors backing up this claim could well be helping along those aforementioned great (sales) expectations:
- 45% of pet owners say they’ve frequently or occasionally bought birthday presents for their pets, up 5 points from 2012 and 8 points since 2007.
- Three in ten (31%) say they frequently or occasionally cook especially for their pets, up 7 points since 2012 and 8 points since 2007.
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,205 U.S. adults, of whom 1,323 have at least one pet, surveyed online between May 20 and 26, 2015. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.
Americans with kids in the household are more likely to have at least one pet than those without (73% vs. 57%) – and kids in those households may themselves be more likely to be the pet owners of the future, as Americans who had a pet when they were growing up are more likely than those who didn’t to have one now (66% vs. 41%).
- Congress’ ratings may be in the dog house, but looking at Americans by their political beliefs, Republicans may be more likely than either Democrats or Independents to have a dog house in their backyard as they’re more likely to have at least one pet in the household (68% Rep, 59% Dem, 60% Ind).
Who’s top dog
When it comes to what pets are in these households, dogs come out on top with 71% of pet owners saying they have at least one dog; half (49%) have cats, while one in ten have fish (11%) and less than one in ten pet owners have a bird (8%) or some other type of pet (9%).
- Interestingly, dogs may have a leg up in “crossover” pet ownership as well: half (49%) of cat owners also say they have a dog, while only a third (34%) of dog owners also have a cat.
The majority of dog owners have just one pooch in the house (61%), and the average number of dogs in these households is 1.6. Cat owners are somewhat less likely to limit their home to just one kitty (53%), and the average number of cats under those roofs is 2.0.
Showing the love
In addition to the aforementioned growing percentages of pet owners frequently or occasionally buying birthday presents for their pets (45%) and cooking for them (31%), majorities of pet owners frequently or occasionally let their pets sleep in bed with them (71%) and buy them holiday presents (64%). Just over two in ten at least occasionally dress their pet in some type of clothing (22%), while just over one in ten at least occasionally bring their pets to work (12%).
- Cat owners are more likely than dog owners to let their pets sleep on the bed (81% vs. 73%), but dog owners are more likely to “paws” and show their love in all of the other tested manners, including buying holiday (70% dog owners, 61% cat owners) and birthday (52% and 40%, respectively) presents and cooking for them (38% and 26%, respectively).
- Women are more likely than men to say they at least occasionally buy their pets holiday presents (70% vs. 58%), while men are more likely to at least occasionally bring their pet to work (16% vs. 9%).
- Millennials are more likely than any other generation to say they at least occasionally buy their pets birthday presents (54% vs. 40% Gen X, 42% Baby Boomers and 27% Matures) and dress their pets in some type of clothing (31% vs. 19%, 14% and 13%).
Of course, pet owners also show their love through their wallets, reporting that they spend nearly a combined $1,200 per year on food/treats ($476.6), medical costs ($425.7), pet sitting/boarding ($128.5), toys ($63.7) and other equipment ($97.4). Women spend more on these items and services for their pets than men (nearly $1,400 vs. less than $1,000).
Over one in ten pet owners (12%) have taken out health/medical insurance policies or any of the pets they own.
- These policies are most common among Millennials (19%, vs. 9% Gen X, 8% Baby Boomers and 9% Matures).
- Additionally, men (15%) are more likely than women (9%) to have such a policy.