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Behind the Pet Numbers
by Landess Witmer PetFolio Publisher
Nov 30, 2011 | 1234 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Prtfolio Illustration/Turi Everett
Prtfolio Illustration/Turi Everett

You think you know your pet, but did you know this about pets in America? Roughly 78.2 million dogs are registered in the U.S. That’s more than one pedigreed pooch for every 200 Americans. “Max” and “Bella” are among the most popular pet names. And about 39 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog. Believe it or not, there is no preference between male or female dogs, with both being owned evenly.

In America only 78 percent of the owned dogs are spayed or neutered. And, quite sadly, only about 21 percent of owned dogs were adopted from an animal shelter, but that is nearly twice as many as just several years ago. On average, dog owners spend $248 annually per dog on veterinary visits for vaccines and checkups; whereas more than $300 million is paid annually by homeowners’ insurance on dog bites. Interestingly, more than four times as much money is spent on pet food as baby food in America. And there really are more than 400 pet cemeteries in this country!

There are lots of little-known facts about our little companions. For example, most dogs are color blind. In addition, puppies don’t actually wag their tails until about 30 days after birth. One of the earliest recorded wags was observed in a 17-day-old puppy. Amazingly, the longest ear on a dog measured nearly 13.75 inches long on Tigger, a bloodhound from Illinois. And did you know that “Bingo,” which is spelled or clapped repeatedly in the traditional children’s song, is actually the name of the man — not the dog?

Maybe we realize we don’t know nearly enough about the pets we share our homes with. But either way, we do pledge our love to them. For example, Americans spend an average of $220 annually on routine veterinary visits for each of their cats. Eighty-eight percent of owned cats are spayed or neutered. And, there are about 86.4-million owned cats in the United States, with more than 33 percent of U.S. households owning at least one cat. A devoted 52 percent of owners own more than one cat, with female cats preferred by 80 percent. Happily, more than 20 percent of owned cats were adopted from an animal shelter.

Cats remain a mystery to many of us. Americans love their felines quite a lot. Can you believe that 25 percent of cat owners blow dry their cat’s hair after a bath? This one is not well documented, but Calico cats almost always are female. Cats have 290 bones in their bodies and 517 muscles. A cat’s brain is more similar to man’s brain than that of a dog. Maybe that is why they are so amazingly flexible! They fit into our lives and snuggle deep into our hearts.

— Read more articles like this in the December/January issue of PetFolio Magazine, “A World Unleashed.” PetFolio can be found free at Scolaris’, Smith’s, and select Reno News & Review stands or online at
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Behind the Pet Numbers by Landess Witmer PetFolio Publisher

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