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Shifting Demographics in Pet Parenthood

By Wendy Rose Gould
published: September 29, 2017 - updated: September 2, 2022 • 2 min. read
Diverse group of people with a dog

Throw on any TV show, stroll down any street, or swipe through any social media feed, and the likelihood of seeing a family pet is very high. We did a little digging, and according to the 2017-2018 survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 68% of homes in the U.S. own a pet. Those percentages account for a whopping 89.7 million dogs and 94.2 million cats. For comparison’s sake – In 1988, the first year the survey was conducted, 56% of U.S. households owned a pet, so that’s an increase of 12 percentage points!

Thank goodness, right? All those cuddly, sweet creatures make the world a more wonderful place to hang out in! Naturally, that information piqued our interest even further, and begged the question, “Which demographics are adopting the most pets?” Is it millennials, eager for some love and a good Insta opp? Is it baby boomers filling empty nests and eager to spoil their pups and felines to the max?

You might have called this one from the beginning, but the answer is Millennials! This generation — which makes up those born roughly between 1982 and 2004 — now owns more pets than any other age group. The APPA found that 35 percent of U.S. millennials own pets compared to 32 percent for baby boomers. For many years, it was the baby boomer generation who owned more pets than any other, but the tides are clearly changing: another study on Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S. discovered that 43% of millennials who don’t own pets now would like to adopt one in the future.

“One reason why Millennials have a strong attachment to the idea of pet ownership is that 69% agree that ‘having a pet is a good way to get ready to have a family,’” stated Packaged Facts, who reported on the study.

That’s not to say that baby boomers aren’t adopting; the opposite is happening. Aging baby boomers are more likely to own pets than the previous generation, and “appear to be re-writing the book on pet ownership among older Americans in a way that likely will hearten marketers and retailers in the pet industry,” Packaged Facts wrote. “If this incipient trend continues, the overall rate of pet ownership likely will increase in coming years.”

This is a reflection of people living longer, and being healthier in their golden years. The bottom line is that pet ownership is at an all-time high, and we couldn’t be more excited about that! If you have recently adopted a new furry family member, check out the New Puppy Checklist and New Kitten Checklist to get all your paws in a row.


wendy gould
By Wendy Rose Gould

Wendy Rose Gould is a freelance lifestyle reporter based in Phoenix, Arizona. She has been in journalism for over a decade, and has been freelancing almost that entire time. In addition to lifestyle reporting, she also works with brands to create marketing content for their websites and blogs.

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