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How Many Pets Are in the U.S.?

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Pet owners say companionship, love, company and affection are the number one benefits to owning a pet.

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.

Category: Insurance

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