Dog owners spend more on veterinary care, according to AVMA

Dog owners are more dedicated to providing their pets with appropriate veterinary care than cat owners are, according to a preview of results from the 2012 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook.

The 2012 Sourcebook, which isn’t expected to be released until this fall, is a study of pet ownership trends and veterinary expenditures conducted by the AVMA every five years.

The amount of money dog owners spent on veterinary care for their pets increased to $19.1 billion in 2011, up 18.6 percent from 2006. Veterinary expenditures for cats remained comparatively flat, rising only 4.2 percent from 2006 to 2011 to $7.4 billion.

Total veterinary visits for dogs in 2011 increased to 130.4 million, a 9.2 percent increase from 2006. Veterinary visits for cats were down 4.4 percent from 2006 to 2011, when there were 60.5 million visits.

According to the AVMA, results of the survey indicate a slight decline in household pet ownership over the past five years, down 2.4 percent from 2006 to 2011. This trend includes household ownership of dogs and cats, which were down 1.9 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively. Horse and bird ownership also declined, as household horse ownership dropped 16.7 percent and household bird ownership declined 20.5 percent from 2006 to 2011.

The 2012 sourcebook will also show that dogs are still the most popular pet in America, as 36.5 percent of all households in the United States own a dog, compared to 30.4 percent owning cats. But cats are still the most common pet, with the total U.S. population hovering right around 74.1 million, compared to 70 million dogs. Cat owners are more likely to own multiple cats – 2.1 per household – compared to dog owners, who average 1.6 dogs per household.

"Our U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook is one of the most anticipated sources of information about trends in pet ownership and veterinary care," said AVMA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ron DeHaven. "There is really no other source of information in the industry that is as respected and complete. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau cites the U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook in their publications."

The AVMA conducted the research for the sourcebook in the spring of 2012, surveying over 50,000 households to collect data on pet ownership, veterinary visits and spending.