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15 Pet Statistics That Might Surprise You
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15 Pet Statistics That Might Surprise You

Critter Culture Staff

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There's no doubt that pets are important parts of their families. From cheering people up after a bad day to cuddling together in bed, they're a highlight in so many people's lives, and for good reason! However, there's a lot about our faithful companions that people don't think about.

All sorts of surprising pet statistics are out there, from how many breeds of dogs are available to the ways our furbabies can help improve the health of their owners.

1

There are over 350 dog breeds worldwide

Five dogs in dog school outdoor PK-Photos / Getty Images

It's no surprise that there are a lot of dog breeds out there, but what's the exact figure? While the American Kennel Club recognizes 190 dog breeds, the World Canine Organization recognizes 360. These don't include mixed breeds or cross-breeds like golden doodles or pomskies, either.

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2

Americans spent $136.8 billion on pets in 2022

Customer at Pet Shop Fuse / Getty Images

That's a lot of money! In 2022, $136.8 billion dollars were spent on pets in the U.S. On average, a dog owner spends around $730 annually, while a cat owner spends an average of $634. The biggest expenses are, unsurprisingly, food and medical bills. Other expenses include toys, grooming, training, and pet daycare.

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3

Over 50% of dogs and 60% of cats are overweight

plus sized dog dennisvdw / Getty Images

If you have a pet, there's a good chance they weigh more than they should. It's estimated that over 50% of dogs and 60% of cats have a few too many inches around their waists. As cute as a fat cat or dog can be, it's not good for their health. If you've got a pudgy pal, reevaluate their diet and make sure they get enough daily exercise.

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4

66% of U.S. households own a pet

family pet kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

More and more people rightly think that pets make their lives better and welcome them into their families. This number is significantly higher compared with previous decades. A 2023 study revealed that 86.9 million or 66% of households in the U.S. own at least one pet. That's a pretty significant increase from 1988, when around 56% of households reported owning a pet.

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5

79% of pet owners report feeling less stressed thanks to their pets

Smiling young female farmer holding chicken Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

When life brings you down, your furbabies are there to pick you back up again. Most pet owners say that having a pet helps reduce stress. There's something soothing about petting a cat or dog, and it's probably related to all those feel-good hormones pets trigger. The next time you're feeling a little worried, try giving your best fuzzy friend a cuddle.

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6

90% of lost pets are found again within 12 hours if they're looked for

missing pet StockSeller_ukr / Getty Images

When pets manage to escape, it can be terrifying, but there's relieving news—90% of pets are quickly found when their owners go looking for them. In many cases, when a pet isn't found or returned quickly, it's because they don't have identification tags or microchips. If your fuzzy friend doesn't have a tag, now's the time to get one!

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7

Owning a pet when you have a baby reduces the likelihood of allergies by 17%

Close up portrait of a beautiful sleeping baby petrenkod / Getty Images

All too commonly, people give up their pets when they have a new bundle of joy, worrying about allergies, safety, and hygiene. Despite the common belief that pets and infants don't mix, having a well-behaved pet when your child is young can actually be protective against future allergies.

Studies show that being exposed to pets in early childhood reduces the rate of asthma and allergy from 49% to 32%.

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8

Across the U.S., there are around 5,000 tigers living as pets

trainer strokes the tiger cub Wolfgang_Steiner / Getty Images

If a dog or cat is too basic, why not try a tiger? Some people have chosen to do just that: there are at least 5,000 tigers in the U.S. living the pampered pet life. This is interesting, considering that it's actually a bigger number than the estimated 3,900 tigers in the wild. Four states have no restrictions on tiger ownership, while 13 more allow it with a permit.

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9

Senior pet owners see their doctors 30% less than those without pets

Serious GP doctor showing tablet screen to old female patient fizkes / Getty Images

Seniors with pets actually have better health than those without. They attend 30% fewer appointments with their doctors and take less medication, which is a pretty significant difference. Not only that, seniors with pets are typically less lonely when they feel like they have a daily purpose. Having a pet can encourage them to walk around more and can provide a sense of fulfillment.

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10

44% of people prefer to cuddle their pets over their life partners

cuddling with pet PeopleImages / Getty Images

If you prefer your pet to your life partner, you're far from alone. A study of 2,000 pet owners revealed that nearly half of them preferred spending time with their pets over their partners. That study also reported that nearly 30% of people think their pets are comfier cuddlers than their partners.

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11

Owning a dog may reduce the risk of heart attack by 11%

dog and senior Vladimir Vladimirov / Getty Images

While pet ownership can feel stressful sometimes, it's actually good for you. After all, your pup does more than just warm your heart. They actually protect it. According to a Swedish study of 3.4 million people, those who lived alone but with a pet experienced heart attacks 11% less frequently than those who lived alone without a furbaby.

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12

Owning a dog may reduce the risk of death by any cause by 24%

Woman cuddles, plays with her dog at home Manuel Tauber-Romieri / Getty Images

Beyond reducing the risk of heart attack, canine companions can also reduce the rate of death in general by 24%. Part of this is likely due to pet owners generally having less risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure, perhaps due to reduced stress and more physical activity. That's a pretty good reason to go out and get a furry friend!

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13

Hamsters can fill their cheeks up with 20% of their body weight

Cute Orange and White Syrian or Golden Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) keeping food in elongated spacious cheek pouches to its shoulder on with dark blurred background. A food hoarding hamster behavior Vichai Phububphapan / Getty Images

Hamsters might look tiny, but they sure can pack in the food. Their cheeks can accommodate around 20% of their body weight. That's the same as an average 150-pound person stuffing 30 pounds of food in their mouth! In the wild, they do this to hide their food away for later so they can eat when they want to.

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14

1 million households in the U.S. have pet fish

Goldfish in Bowl Glasshouse Images / Getty Images

Fishkeeping can be a fun hobby, but for many, these scaly buddies are actually beloved pets and friends. Many fish can recognize their owners and get excited when they come up to the tank. No wonder 11.1 million households in the U.S. have at least one freshwater fish! If you're adding a fish to your home, just be sure to do your research and make sure they have enough space!

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15

Nearly 20% of households adopted a pet during the pandemic

Dag Adopt Rescue Animal David Baileys / Getty Images

During a time when normalcy seemed to disappear overnight, people turned to furry companions. More than 23 million households in the U.S. adopted a pet during the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many people working at home and isolated from friends or family, it seemed like the perfect time to welcome a new animal friend into their worlds.

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