5 statistics on the COVID-19 pet adoption wave
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans had a living animal companion at home. About 44% of households nationwide had a dog, while 35% had a cat between 2015 and 2016, according to the American Pet Products Association. This represented a total of 78 million dogs and almost 86 million cats. Americans choose different adoption methods for their pets, with more dog owners opting for breeders than shelters. Cat owners usually opt for animal shelters for adoption or adopt cats through friends and relatives.
After the pandemic shuttered businesses and forced schools to go virtual, even more Americans added a pet to their household. Nearly 1 in 5 households have acquired a dog or a cat. Officials reassured Americans that the risk of pets transmitting COVID-19 to humans is extremely low. For animals, serious illnesses due to the coronavirus seem rare.
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift and many people return to work and school outside the home, what’s happening to pets? Are the new owners rushing to return them? What can be done to curb separation anxiety in dogs and cats facing new routines at home?
In order to contextualize the pet surge caused by the coronavirus pandemic, ManyPets consulted a 2021 survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on pet ownership during the pandemic and presented five takeaways from the study.
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19% of Americans have added a dog or cat to their home and household budgets
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, 23 million American households brought home a new pet and they opened their wallets for their new companions. Americans paid $42 billion for pet food and treats in 2020, and are expected to pay $44 billion in 2021, according to the American Pet Products Association. They spent just over $22 billion on supplies and over-the-counter medications in 2020, with spending also expected to increase by a few billion the following year. Veterinary care saw bigger spending, at $31.4 billion in 2020. In total, the bill for these new pets came to nearly $104 billion nationwide.
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90% of dogs and 85% of total pets are still at home
Even as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and Americans return to work and school, they continue to incorporate their new pets into their families, reports the ASPCA. The majority of respondents expressed few concerns about being able to spend enough time with their new dog or cat.
Dog walkers saw business decline during the pandemic, but demand picked up in 2021. Revenue is expected to rise 10.5% as society reopens and people take long-delayed vacations. Apps for booking dog walkers or pet sitters are more popular than ever, with one popular app, Wag!, predicting revenues of $42 million in 2022, a huge increase in revenue from 2021.
87% of new pet owners say they would not consider rehoming their pet
Often, pets are abandoned due to some sort of problem with the animal, according to the ASPCA. The reasons can be aggressive behaviors or other problematic behaviors; the size of the animal, especially if it grows more than expected; or health issues that the owner cannot handle. Respectively, pet problems are the cause of almost half of the dogs and cats that are rehomed. According to the 2015 ASPCA Rehoming Survey, just over 6 million households rehomed their pets over five years. Pets are more likely to be given to a friend or relative, which may explain why so many need to be rehomed.
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The number one concern for new pet owners is financial security
The ASPCA estimates the annual cost of owning a dog at $1,391 per year and a cat at $1,149 per year. Initial and other special costs can bring first year costs up to $3,221 for a dog and $1,904 for a cat. Some tips for keeping costs down include buying high-quality pet food, which can reduce health issues later, grooming your pet at home, and neutering your pet.
A 2015 ASPCA housing survey found that those with incomes below $50,000 were more likely to rehouse their pets due to the cost of caring for them or housing issues. . About 30% said affordable veterinary care, access to cheaper food, or pet-friendly housing could have helped them keep their pet. For tenants, housing issues were the main reason for relocating their dog or cat.
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22% of new pet owners say they would like to travel more, but “feel limited” by their pet
Traveling with a pet can be complicated. If you want to fly, for example, only cats and dogs that meet age, size and other restrictions can travel in the cabin. Others may need to be shipped. Flying carries serious risks for some pets, especially animals with “sunken” faces like pugs and Persian cats. These animals are more at risk of oxygen deprivation and heat stroke. Driving is less risky, but taking long car trips can make your pet restless, so frequent stops may be necessary.
Pets can’t always join vacation destinations, and hotels may even refuse guests with pets. Weighing the options between finding a pet sitter or taking the pet is a common dilemma that many pet owners face, and as travel restrictions lift, it only makes sense that near a pet owner out of 4 animals feel limited by their new four-legged friend.
This story originally appeared on ManyPets
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