VCA Animal Hospitals

Pet ownership declining

Published: Sep 20, 2012

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A recent study released by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) revealed that fewer American households include pets.

The 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, which has been released every five years since 1983, polled more than 50,000 Americans last year.

Overall, it found that total pet ownership dropped 2.4 percent from 2006 to 2011. During that time, cat ownership decreased 6.2 percent, while dog ownership dropped 1.9 percent. Still, there are more than 74.1 million pet cats, and 69.9 million pet dogs in the United States.

The Chicago Tribune reports that cats overcame dogs as America's most popular pet in 1987 and remain so today, even if fewer people are making the commitment to become pet owners.

Many suspect a difficult economy may be to blame for the decline.

"The drop in pet ownership certainly appears related to the downturn in the economy," AVMA spokesman Michael San Filippo told Fox Business News. "While we have heard about people abandoning animals because they couldn't afford them any longer, it's more likely the decline in ownership is due to people choosing not to bring new pets into their households after their old pets have passed away."

An aging "Baby Boom" generation may also play a part in the decline. Experts say they may opt against the responsibility of a cat or dog as they age.

"Even though there are a lot of studies out there that show how good pets are for older people, we don't see it happening," Stephen Zawistowski from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) told the news source. "When the kids leave home, people tend not to have pets."

While fewer people may be taking pets into their homes, the amount of money pet owners spend on their animals is increasing. The AVMA reports that the cost to bring a cat or dog to see a pet health expert has risen in recent years. Vet care expenses for dogs rose by 13.5 percent from 2001 to 2006, while the cost of vet care for cats was up 11.1 percent in the same period.

More people are bringing their dogs to veterinary hospitals each year, too. Vet visits for dogs increased 9 percent. However, the number of people bringing their feline friends to the vet for preventative care each year is down 4 percent.

Even though the majority (80 percent) of those surveyed are happy with the care their pets receive from their veterinarians, many admit to seeking out pet health information online.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.