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More Single Americans Opting to Own Pets, Study Discovers

Posted: March 22, 2013, 4:30 p.m. EDT


While families make up the majority of U.S. pet owners, the ownership gap between them and single adults has significantly narrowed over the last five years, the American Veterinary Medical Association reported.

The number of single adults with pets grew by 16.6 percent, from 46.9 percent to 54.7 percent, from 2006 to 2011, the AVMA stated. During the same period, families with pets grew by just 1.37 percent, from 65.5 percent to 66.4 percent.

The findings, reported March 14, were based on data contained in the AVMA's 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook. The resource was released in December, but the Schaumburg, Ill.-based AVMA continues to report specific findings.

 AVMA Sourcebook
Considered one of the most authoritative sources on pet ownership, veterinary spending and pet demographics, the Sourcebook is regularly cited by the U.S. Census Bureau, according to the AVMA.
Other trends documented in the Sourcebook include:

• Pet ownership among divorced, widowed and separated adults grew by 17.7 percent, from 51.3 to 60.4 percent.

• The number of single men living alone with pets increased by 27.7 percent, from 34.3 to 43.8 percent.

• The number of single women living alone with pets increased by 22 percent, from 46.8 to 57.1 percent.

“It's interesting to see that more and more single people are discovering the comfort and satisfaction that owning a pet can offer,” said Dr. Douglas Aspros, DVM, president of the AVMA.

The study indicated that single pet owners are more likely to view pets as family members, while families more often relegate pets to companion or property status.

Dr. Aspros addressed the impressive growth of pet ownership among single men.

“For now, it's true that more single women own pets than single men, but this survey shows us that this may be changing,” he said. “By studying these demographic trends better, the AVMA wants to help veterinarians to better serve our clients and keep pets healthy.”

As for less-encouraging news: Veterinarian visitation showed signs of waning.

One in four pet-owning households did not visit a veterinarian in 2011, a nearly 7 percent increase over 2006.

“Veterinarians can use this information to reach out to these growing segments of our clientele to help reverse this trend of decreasing veterinary care for our pets,” Aspros stated.

“Families, no matter what size, need to bring their pets into a veterinarian at least once a year to maintain optimal health.”

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