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Our Relationship with Pets

58% of all American households have at least one pet in the house. There are more than 61 million dogs in US households today.

– American Veterinary Medical Association

More than half of all pet owners stated they would want their pet instead of another person with them if they were stranded on a desert island.

– American Animal Hospital Association

Percentage of pet owners who…

  • refer to themselves as their pet’s “mom” or “dad”– 84
  • greet their pet first when they return home – 72
  • greet their spouse or significant other first – 13
  • greet their children first – 7
  • include their pet in holiday celebrations – 86
  • hang a Christmas stocking for their pet – 64
  • say they are willing to go into debt to provide care for their pet – 74
  • say they will spend $1,000 or more to save their pet in a life-threatening situation – 73
  • have sung to or danced with their pet – 65
  • celebrate their pet’s birthday – 63
  • have cooked or baked for their pet – 54
  • include their pets in family or holiday portraits – 51
  • have taken time off work to tend to a sick pet – 51
  • have given their pet a wrapped present – 43
  • have taken their pet to work – 44
  • have more pictures of their pets than of their spouse or significant other – 39
  • allow their dog to sleep in their bed – 36
  • talk to their pets on a phone or answering machine when they’re away from home – 33
  • have held a funeral after their pet’s death – 19
  • carry a pet’s picture in their wallet – 17
  • say they feel closest to their pet when exchanging kisses – 11

– From a survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) among pet owners in Canada and the United States.

  • Percentage of pet owners who consider vaccinations and routine care critical to their pet’s quality of life – 92
  • Amount spent by pet owners on veterinary care in…
    • 1991 – $6.9 billion
    • 2002 – $11 billion
  • Number of vets in the United States who perform surgery on pet fish – about 20
    • Cost of fish surgery–$350 to $1,000
  • Number of vets in the United States who specialize in pet dentistry – about 60
    • Cost of dog or cat root canal–$600 to $800
    • Cost of dog or cat orthodontics–$2,800 and up
  • Average amount spent annually by pet owners on pet expenses–$1,266
    • Typical breakdown:
    • $156 Routine vet visits
    • $289 Specialized vet visits
    • $187 Food
    • $45 vitamin supplements, worm medications
  • Eight out of ten owners purchased at least one gift for their dogs in 2000
  • Percentage of pet owners who…
    • say their pets make their family or home life healthier, either emotionally or physically–84
    • say that playing with or confiding in their pet relaxes, calms and helps them cope better with life and the associated stresses of our fast-paced society when they are stressed or worried–70
  • Average amount spent on food, toys and treats annually–$750

– From a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA)


Many people believe that research with animals is conducted for the exclusive benefit of humans. In fact, practically all biomedical research with lab animals also advances veterinary medicine and helps companion animals live longer, happier and healthier lives. Dozens of diseases, affecting both humans and animals, are prevented through the administration of vaccines. Many other conditions are successfully treated, in both humans and animals, with antibiotics. From asthma and epilepsy, from high blood pressure to cancer, people and their pets share myriad diseases and therapies. And thanks to animal research, effective new drugs have been designed, sophisticated medical devices have been developed and remarkable surgical procedures have been perfected – for human and veterinary medical care.

For years, there was basically one way to treat sick pets: Put them to sleep. But today they can live happy, long lives. Because animal research has resulted in medical advances for both you and your four-legged family members. (That news should make them wag their tails. Unless, of course, they're cats.)

 - Foundation for Biomedical Research


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