Record-high dog ownership and increasing ownership of less traditional pets, such as poultry and lizards, are two key takeaways from the recent pet ownership and demographics data released by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The study found nearly 57% of US households owned a pet at the end of 2016 and approximately 38% of those households owned one or more dogs. This is the largest percentage of dog-owning households in the US since the AVMA began gathering this kind of data in 1982. Cats were ranked the second most popular pet, with 25% of US households owning at least one cat.

Specialty or exotic pet ownership in the US was up to more than 13%, representing a 25% increase from 2011, according to the study by AVMA. This includes ownership of animals such as fish, ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, turtles, snakes, lizards, poultry, livestock and amphibians. Interestingly, poultry as pets has gained influence in US households with 1.1% claiming poultry as pets at the end of 2016, which is a 23% increase within the last five years.

Rural states were found to have higher pet ownership rates, with the 10 highest percentages in Wyoming (72%), West Virginia (71%), Nebraska (70%), Vermont (70%), Idaho (70%), Indiana (69%), Arkansas (69%), Mississippi (65%), Oklahoma (65%) and Colorado (65%). Urban states have generally lower rates of pet ownership; the states with the lowest pet ownership are Rhode Island (45%), South Dakota (46%), New York (50%), New Jersey (47%), Maryland (49%), Illinois (49%), Massachusetts (49%), Connecticut (50%), Georgia (51%) and New Hampshire (52%).

Additionally, AVMA’s data on veterinary care in the US points to dog owners as having the highest propensity to seek veterinary care at an average of three visits per year, while cat-owners averaged 2.4 visits per year. 

"This is a fascinating look into the world of pets as well as the people and veterinarians who love and care for them," said Dr. John de Jong, president of the AVMA. "Examining current trends in pet ownership and care provides our members with information they can use to better serve their clients and protect the health and welfare of their pets."

The AVMA is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. The organization released its 2017-2018 edition of the Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook in November 2018. The data is one of the most comprehensive sources on pet ownership and related habits of US pet-owning households.

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