Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Based on statistics collected over the last decade, approximately 57% of US households owned pets. From 2006-2016, that number barely changed, indicating that pet ownership continues steadily in a nation where more than half of all households own a pet of some kind.
In America, dogs are the clear favorite with cats coming in second. But millions of people still own other pets such as birds and horses, though the numbers pale in comparison to dogs and cats.
We’ve collected some of the most eye-opening and interesting pet statistics from the most reputable sources around to help give you a birds-eye view of pet ownership. From dog attacks on postal workers to the average yearly costs of veterinary visits for dog and cat households, these stats are sure to surprise you and help you gain a better understanding of pets and their people.
General Pet Ownership Statistics
- 48,255,413 – Number of households that own a dog in the US
There’s no question; more American households own a dog than any other type of pet. And it makes sense when you look at the American dog culture. Shows like Lassie and The Adventures of Scooby-Doo have kept dogs at the forefront of peoples’ minds. Meanwhile, movies like Airbud and Beethoven have propelled dogs to mega-levels of fame.
- 31,896,077 – Number of households that own a cat in the US While dogs are clearly America’s favorite companion pet, cats aren’t that far behind. Over 30 million households have felines for pets. Cats have long been revered by many cultures around the world as far back as the ancient Egyptians. While they’re popular here, they don’t enjoy quite the same reputation as dogs. Still, the numbers don’t lie; America loves cats. Just not as much as they love dogs.
- 3,509,032 – Number of households that own a bird in the US
Cats and dogs are quite obviously stealing the show here. The next contender isn’t even close. Birds are owned by just 3.5 million households in the US. That’s just about 10% of the total number of cat-keeping households. Of course, birds aren’t nearly as cuddly and affectionate as cats or dogs. They also tend to be pretty loud, though having a pet that can repeat things you say might be cool! Or dangerous, depending on the way you speak!
- 76,811,305 – Total pet dogs in the US There are nearly one-quarter as many pet dogs in America as there are people! If that doesn’t tell you something about how much Americans love dogs, then nothing will. If you added the total amount of stray dogs to the domestic dogs, there would be almost half as many dogs as people in America.
- 58,385,725 – Total pet cats in the US Even though the total number of pet cats in the US is less than the number of dogs, they’re not that far behind. Compared to the meager 7.5 million pet birds in the country, cats seem like superstars. Less than 20 million cats to go before they catch up to dogs…
Household Based Statistics
- 4% – percentage of US households that have dogs
We mentioned that 48-million households own dogs in the US. Well, that works out to be 38.4-% of American households. Those are pretty decent numbers, showing that more than one-third of American families have dogs.
- 4% – Percentage of US households that have cats
Cat-owning households make up just one-quarter of all US households. That’s 13% less cat owner than dog owners in America. Cat owners better hope they never have to go war against dog owners, they’re vastly outnumbered!
- 1% – Percentage of US households that have birdsBird ownership in America looks even worse when you look at it as a percentage. Just 2% of the population has birds! They’re clearly not in the same realm of popularity as dogs or cats; at least not in the US.
- Dog owners have 1.6 dogs per household on average
On average, households with dogs have 1.6 dogs. Obviously, no one can have a half of a dog, but this shows that slightly more than half of dog households have more than one dog. The more the merrier! If you can deal with all the hungry mouths and extra pet hair that is.
- Cat owners have 1.8 cats per household on averageThough there are more total dog-owning households in America, each household that owns cats owns slightly more on average. This difference could explain why the difference between cat-owning and dog-owning households is much larger than the difference between total pet cats and dogs in the country.
- On average, dog families spend $410 on veterinary visits yearlyDogs might be our favorite, but they’re also more expensive to care for, at least medically. The average dog household spends $410 each year on vet visits. This shows that families really love their dogs; enough to spend good money on their health. Two, it shows that dogs either get sick more often than cats, or their care costs more.
- On average, cat families spend $182 on veterinary visits yearlyCat families spend less than half what dog families shell out each year on veterinary visits. Are cats healthier creatures that get sick or injured less? Or is the cost of cat care more affordable than dog care? It’s hard to say, but either way, cats are a more cost-effective pet than dogs, at least when it comes to their health care.
- The average dog family visits the veterinarian 2.4 times each yearAnd it looks like we’ve found our answer. Dog families take their pets to the vet nearly twice as much as cat families. This seems to show that dogs get sick and/or injured at a higher rate than cats. Maybe curiosity really killed the canine and not the feline?
- The average cat family visits the veterinarian 1.3 times each yearWith just 1.3 average veterinary visits each year, cat families spend less time and money caring for their pets’ health. Maybe it’s because cats have nine lives or because dogs tend to be more active outside pets. Regardless, cats visit the vet a lot less than canines.
Attacks, Bites & Fatalities
- 5,803 – Total dog attacks on USPS employees in 2019
This statistic is just a little humorous, unless you’re a postal worker! Luckily, the average is down significantly from years past. 2018 had over 200 more dog attacks on postal workers than in 2019, and 2017 had 200 more than that! If attacks on USPS employees continue to drop, soon no one will be able to make jokes about dogs chasing the mailman!
- 5 million – Yearly dog bites in the USThis is a bit of a grim statistic. 4.5 million is quite a few people, but only 885,000 of them are bitten bad enough to seek medical attention. But it does get worse; about 30,000 people annually have to get reconstructive surgeries due to dog bites. Unfortunately, children tend to be the most common victims, with the majority in their mid-late childhood stages.
- 10-20 – Average yearly fatalities due to dog bites in the USWhile more than four million people get bitten by dogs each year, only 10-20 of them die. It’s still a tragedy, but you’re statistically not very likely to die from a dog attack.
- 400,000 – Average yearly cat bites in the USCat bites don’t occur at nearly the same rate as dog bites. They total about 400,000 bites each year, still shy of half a million. Of those, about 66,000 require visits to the hospital. Interestingly, female adults are the most common recipients of cat bites.
- 48% – Percentage of dog bite deaths that occur in children under the age of one
It’s always sad if someone dies from a dog bite, but it’s much worse when they’re very young. Unfortunately, statistics show that almost half of all dog bite deaths occurred in children less than a year old.
- 66% – Percentage of dog bite deaths attributed to Pit Bulls
This is one of the most-unfortunate statistics of all. Out of all the deaths caused by dog attacks, Pit Bulls were responsible for two-thirds of them, though they make up just 6.5% of the total dog population in the US. Rottweilers were responsible for just 10% of all deaths by dog attack, a far off second to the Pit Bull.
Top 10 Pet Ownership Statistics by State
- California has the most pet-owning households with 80 million
- Wyoming has the most pet-owning households per capita at 72%
- Rhode Island has the least pet-owning households per capita at 45%
- The state with the highest pet dog population is California with 8,690,000
- California also has the most dog-owning households with 5,576,000, though only 40.1% of households own dogs.
- In Idaho, 58% of households own dogs, giving them the most dog-owning households per capita
- California has the most dog attacks on USPS workers with 794 occurring in 2019
- 45% of households in Vermont have cats, which gives them the highest cat ownership per capita of any state
- California has the most cat owners with 3,190,000 households that own a cat
- Rhode Island has the lowest cat ownership of any state per capita with just 17% of households owning a cat. However, Washington DC actually has lower ownership at 16%, but they’re not a state.
Breaking Down Pet Ownership in the US
California has the most pets and pet owners total of any state, which makes sense because they’re the biggest state with the largest population. About 8 million households in California own pets with 5,576,000 of those being dog households.
You get a different story if you look at per-capita pet ownership though. Most of the states with the highest percentage of pet households are located in the middle of the country. Wyoming has the highest pet ownership with 72% of all households owning pets. They’re followed closely by Idaho and Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Missouri. Interestingly, California doesn’t break the top ten.
While the Midwest is full of pet-owning households, the states of the northern east coast have the lowest pet ownership per capita. Technically, Washington DC has the lowest pet ownership at just 38% of households. But Rhode Island has the lowest pet ownership of any state at 45%. South Dakota is the one straggler state in the Midwest at a meager 46% pet ownership. Then it’s New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Connecticut, all with less than 50% pet ownership.
Exotic Pet Ownership Facts
In the US, 13% of households own exotic pets. Of all exotic pets, fish are the most common, being owned by 8% of US households. While most cat and dog families have just one or two pets, fish families are a bit different with an average of 7.3 fish per household. That works out to over 76 million pet fish in America!
Another exotic animal found in high numbers in captivity in America is the tiger, though the numbers can’t touch the numerous fish in captivity. There aren’t that many tigers left in the world. In fact, the WWF estimates that there only 3,900 tigers left in the wild in the whole world. What’s crazy is that according to the Werner Tiger Census, 4,692 Tigers are estimated to be held in captivity in the US. That’s more than the total remaining wild population!
You might be wondering how so many people could keep tigers in captivity. In many states, owning such animals is illegal. In other states, you can own them with a permit that’s hard to acquire. But in four states, Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, there are no laws or regulations governing the ownership of exotic animals!
Pet Ownership Around the World
Even though more than half of all US households own pets, other countries have much higher rates of pet ownership. For instance, in Argentina, 66% of all households own dogs, helping them to lead the world in pet ownership. Mexico also has incredibly high levels of pet ownership with dogs being found in 64% of households.
Interestingly, neither country has as many cat owners as the US, though both of them eclipse the US in total pet ownership. In Argentina, 32% of households own cats while just 24% do in Mexico. In contrast, 39% of American households keep cats.
But America’s not leading the pack on cats. In Russia, 57% of households keep cats. France is also ahead of the US with 41% cat ownership. Apparently, the French prefer cats because their dog ownership is at just 29%.
Another interesting difference between countries is in the foods we choose to feed our pets. In the US, chicken dominates the pet food market. But that’s not the case everywhere. Greece, China, and the Czech Republic, for instance, prefer to feed their dogs beef. In France and Spain, pets are fed a more diverse diet featuring fish, chicken, beef, and more.
Pet Overpopulation Statistics and Facts
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 1.5 million animals in shelters are euthanized each year. That includes 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats. Surprisingly, this number is much lower than in previous years. In 2011, for instance, 2.6 million total shelter animals were euthanized.
On a more positive note, of the 6.5 million or so animals that enter the shelter each year, about 3.2 million of them, nearly half, are adopted. That’s split about half between dogs and cats at 1.6 million each. Another 710,000 shelter animals each year are strays that get returned to their owner for a happy reunion.
The Stray Animal Foundation Platform says there are approximately 70 million stray cats and dogs living in the US alone. To deal with the problem, between 4,000 and 6,000 shelters exist. But with 70,000 new cats and dogs being born each day, it’s an uphill battle they’re tasked to fight.
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Across the world, people of all walks of life from all different cultures and countries keep pets as companions. The pets we prefer to keep vary from place to place. Each country has its preferences, like in France where only 29% of people own dogs but 41% own cats, or in Mexico where it’s the opposite and 64% keep dogs but only 24% have cats.
Of course, some countries hardly keep pets at all, like South Korea where 20% of people own dogs and just 6% own cats. It’s one of the few countries with more bird ownership than cats!
Our pet ownership is as different as our cultures and cuisine, but pets still steal hearts everywhere, in all languages.
Featured Image Credit: NDAB Creativity, Shutterstock