Pet Ownership Statistics in 2021

Key insights + statistics

  • 68% of U.S. households own a pet. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • An estimated total of 85 million families own some kind of pet. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Americans spend about $99 billion on their pets and pet products every year. (Statista)
  • At least 37 million millennials have pets. (Packaged Facts)
  • 4 million dogs and cats are adopted from shelters each year (Humane Society)
  • There are 471 million pet dogs and about 370 million cats kept as pets worldwide. (Statista)
  • Fish were the third most popular pet in 2019. (Humane Society)
  • 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year. (Humane Society)
  • Arkansas is number one for dog ownership in the country. (Pawlicy)

 

How many pet owners are there in the United States?

According to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, about 85 million American families (or 67%) own some kind of pet. Birds, cats, dogs, fishes, or ferrets — these little creatures are part of the family and each year, American families across the country grow a little bit bigger each year.

With national data from the Humane Society, the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and other animal-focused organizations, The Zebra has compiled a report on pet ownership in America for a better look at our species' co-habitation.

 

Table of content

  1. Household pet ownership
  2. Pet ownership statistics by state
  3. Worldwide pet ownership 
  4. Exotic pet ownership
  5. Millennial pet ownership
  6. Cat ownership
  7. Dog ownership
  8. Cost of pet ownership
  9. Pet insurance as a cost of ownership
  10. FAQs about pet ownership

 

Household pet ownership statistics

For more information, review the full reports from the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society:

  • 2.8% of American households own birds.
  • 25.4% of households in the United States own cats.
  • There’s about one cat or dog for every 2.4 people.
  • Approximately 48 million American households own a dog.
  • Over 1.5 million households have over 2.2 million bunnies in their homes.
  • 326,000 households offer a home to ferrets in the United States.
  • There are 13,500 animal shelters and rescue groups across the United States.
  • Roughly 4 million dogs and cats are adopted out of shelters each year.


Ownership statistics by state

According to Pawlicy and the World Population Review.

  • 61% of Pennsylvania households own pets.
  • About 65% of households in Oklahoma own a pet.
  • 70% of Vermont residents own a pet.
  • Roughly 62% of Tennessee households own a pet.
  • 32.1% of residents in South Dakota own a dog.
  • 62% of Ohio households own pets.
  • 30% of Maryland residents own a dog.
  • 40.1% of the population in California owns a pet
  • In Texas, more than 43% of households have a dog.
  • 40% of Floridians own dogs.
  • 69% of Indiana households own pets.
  • Over 50% of Oregon residents own at least one pet.
  • Idaho holds the highest number of dog owners at 58.3%.


World pet ownership statistics

According to Statista, PetSecure, Growth from Knowledge, and Simply Insurance:

  • There are 471 million pet dogs worldwide.
  • Across the globe, about 370 million cats are kept as pets.
  • Brazil has the highest number of small dogs per capita in the world.
  • There are 249,651,000 homed birds in the world.
  • 90% of American households consider dogs as part of the family.
  • Worldwide, 33% of households own pets.
  • Only 2% of Americans admit to having pet insurance.
  • Only 20% of American pet owners can afford to pay a $5,000 vet bill
  • 59% of Russians own a cat, which makes the country the highest share of cat owners in the world.


Exotic pet ownership

The following data came from pet-focused sites such as Animal Law, PetHelpful, Expert Insurance Reviews, and CNBC:

  • Only 20 states specifically ban private ownership of large exotic animals.
  • Insurance for exotic animals, including coverage and liability limits, is generally much higher than regular home insurance
  • In 2013, 19.4 million households in America owned exotic pets.
  • Between 1990 to 2014, there were around 260 severe or fatal exotic cat attacks in the United States.

 

Millennial pet ownership

For further analysis, view the full reports on Statista, YPulse, and Packaged Facts.

  • Millennials with Generation Z generate 57% of pet ownership in America.
  • Millennials lead the share of pet owners in the U.S. (31%).
  • 76% of millennials own pets.
  • 35% of millennials own cats.
  • For every five millennials, two ages 16-34-year-old pet owners say that they think of their pets as their kids.
  • 49% of 16-34-year-old millennials say that pampering their pets makes them happy.
  • At least 37 million millennials have pets.


Cat ownership statistics

The following statistics are taken from reports generated by the ASPCA, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society, and PetPedia:

  • There are more than 58 million pet cats in America and anywhere between 30 million and 100 million self-sufficient feral cats roaming American streets.
  • 25.4% of households in America own cats.
  • 3.2 million cats find themselves in a shelter every year - either born in a shelter, surrendered or abandoned.
  • In 2012, it was estimated that there were 74.1 million pet cats in America and this number is growing.
  • On average, there are approximately 30 to 40 million stray, feral, uncared-for cats in the United States.
  • On average, people adopt stray cats more often than they adopt stray dogs.


Dog ownership statistics

For more additional statistics, consider the full reports generated by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society, and PetFoodIndustry.com:

  • 38.4% of American households own a dog.
  • In 2018, Americans owned 76,811,305 dogs.
  • Nearly 40% of households in the United States own at least 1 pet dog.
  • 40% of the dogs in shelters are purebreds
  • 44 percent of dog owners adopted their precious pups from a rescue or shelter
  • Dog ownership increased by nearly 11% during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.


Cost of pet ownership

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the American Pet Products Association, and Statista:

  • Dog owners spend more than $1,000 annually on veterinary check-ups, medication and medical supplies every year.
  • Since 2010, pet expenses have become a $99 billion a year industry in the United States.
  • In 2007, overall pet expenditures sat at $41 billion.
  • In 2012, $52 billion was on pets.
  • In 2016, Americans spent $66.75 billion on their pets.
  • In 2018, Americans spent $72 billion on their pets.
  • In 2020, Americans spent over $103 billion on their pets.
  • Pet-owners spent nearly $30.2 billion on vet expenses and products in 2020.
  • For 2021, roughly $109.6 billion have been spent on pets in the U.S.
  • Americans spend nearly $93 billion a year on pet food and pet travel in the USA.

 

Pet insurance: the best to protect Fido

Pet coverage allows you to mitigate the risk of being on the line for the full cost of veterinary bills, which can be surprisingly expensive. Without such a policy, many pet owners find themselves in a tough situation. Just like a standard carrenters or home insurance policy, pet insurance requires monthly premiums. For those premiums, your pet will receive coverage in the amount that you select. This can cover the full cost of your pet’s bills or only a portion depending on your policy. 

Below are the most common policy types and some of the situations they cover.

  • Comprehensive: While the name may vary, this type of comprehensive policy is robust and covers your pet with very few exclusions. Such policies are likely to cover hereditary conditions, vaccinations and illnesses such as cancer.
  • Emergency only: In this policy type, your pet will only be covered if injured in an accident. Illness and routine check-ups aren’t covered. This type of policy is most often used to keep high, unexpected costs down after an accident or injury.
  • Accident and illness: This policy type will cover emergencies and costs related to illness.
  • Wellness plan: This covers check-ups, routine visits and vaccinations, but may not cover illness or emergency care.

How much does pet insurance cost?

Pricing for pet insurance policies is based on a number of factors, primarily those specific to your pet. In general, the following factors are most likely to affect your pet insurance premiums:

  • ZIP code: More densely populated areas tend to have higher rates, as do areas where care is more expensive, i.e., California.
  • Species: The species of pet you own can play a big part in what you pay. Dogs, for instance, are often more expensive to insure than cats or many other animals.
  • Breed: Different pet breeds can also affect your premiums, as some may be more prone to certain types of illness or other medical conditions.
  • Age: Older animals cost more to insure.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about pet ownership

Question: What is responsible pet ownership?

Answer: According to the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, the number one most important aspect of pet ownership is committing to the responsibility of providing for the animal’s welfare needs for the life of the pet. View more of what constitutes responsible ownership on their site

Q: What is the monthly annual cost of pet ownership?

A: According to Spruce Pets, the average monthly cost of owning a dog is between $125 and $824.

Q: Can you have pets in shared ownership?

A: According to Share to Buy Expert Sessions, your lease with your shared ownership space will tell you if you can keep pets in your home. 

Q: How do you change pet ownership?

A: With a microchipped animal, a transfer of ownership requires three things: 1) a bill of sale with the microchip number noted, 2) a letter from a veterinarian establishing ownership, and 3) a signed transfer form from the original owner.

Taylor Covington
Taylor CovingtonContent Researcher

An in-house qualitative researcher for The Zebra, Taylor collects, organizes, and analyzes data to shine a light on trends in the insurance industry and beyond. Taylor's data studies have been cited by Yahoo Finance, The Atlantic, MSN, PolicyAdvice, Fox Business, The Simple Dollar, Hippo Insurance, and Bloomberg.

In her hometown of Austin, Texas, she can be found reading at Half Price Books or eating the world's greatest pizza at Via 313.