A study recently released by the American Veterinary Medical Association details pet-ownership across the U.S., revealing many facts and growing concerns about pets and pet-owners.
Using over 50,000 respondents, the AVMA studied pet-ownership and practices of pet owners across the states. The study shows that, since 2006, pet ownership has dropped by almost 3 percent, with 56 percent of households across the U.S. owning a pet. This drop in pet-ownership has been attributed to the ongoing nation-wide recession.
So where does Georgia fit into all of this data?
Georgia ranks 33rd in the nation in regard to general pet-ownership, with just over 55 percent of households owning pets. The state falls into the bottom 10 percent in cat ownership, coming in 46th place, but just under half of all households owning a dog.
The study also revealed the percentage of households taking their pet to see a veterinarian for yearly check-ups has dropped across the country for both dogs and cats. This is especially concerning to members of the AVMA.
Dr. Douglas Aspros, president-elect of the AVMA, wanted to make sure pets are being properly cared for, and has said pet health is one of the most important things revealed by this study.
“Pet owners across the country need to remember to bring their pets into the veterinarian — at least once a year — to maintain optimal health,” Aspros said in a press release.
Dr. Sheila Allen, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, agreed with the concerns of the AVMA.
“Just like with our own health care, prevention and early detection of problems makes them much easier to treat and manage,” Allen said. “A veterinarian can sometimes detect a health concern in a pet before the symptoms are evident to the owner. That is why it is so important to have regular check-ups with a veterinarian.”
She also said despite national trends toward fewer veterinary visits, visits to UGA’s veterinary clinic have risen.
Furthermore, while a majority of pet owners believe that their pet is in good health, statics show that there has been an increase in overweight dogs, and an almost 90 percent increase in overweight cats, causing a trend that the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention describes as “Fat pets [as] the new normal.”
However, pets in the U.S. are living longer than ever, with almost a fifth of dogs and cats in America at 11 years or older. Pet adoptions from shelters and rescue groups have also risen, offering hope for the thousands of animals without a home.
There are many different benefits to owning a pet, from simple companionship, to exercise, to health reasons. Pets have become much more than just pets to many families, with almost two-thirds of pet-owning households reporting that they consider their pet as a “part of the family”.
“We know from research that people who own pets are happier and healthier,” Tom McPheron, spokesperson for the AVMA, said. “Thirty years ago, people wouldn’t even think of bringing their pet to an Oncologist or some other type of specialist, but now they do.”