What you need to know about today's pet owners - Veterinary Economics
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What you need to know about today's pet owners
A new survey details how your clients care for their pets—and may offer clues about how you could serve them better.


The results of the 2011 petMD Pet Owners Survey reveals the extent of the bond that pet owners share with their pets and how it impacts their daily lives. The survey, which polled 1,500 U.S. pet owners, shows that, much like human relationships, pets are a mixture of love, worry, joy and frustration for their owners, who consistently look for ways to improve the quality of their pets’ lives. Here are some highlights from the survey:

Cost of pet care is the least of their worries. Only 12 percent worry about the cost of their pet’s care. In contrast, 25 percent say their biggest worry is that their pet will get sick. And for pet owners, their pets’ quality of life is just as important as health. Twenty-two percent worry that their pet spends too much time alone and 20 percent worry their pet is not happy.

Although pet owners’ top worries revolve around their pets’ health and wellness, only 34 percent rated their knowledge of what’s best for their pet’s health as excellent. The survey uncovered deficiencies in key areas of pet health knowledge:

> One in four pet owners said that their pets have accidentally ingested a toxic substance.
> Only 5 percent identified pollen or mold as common pet allergens.

Pet owners are loyal to companies that support animals. Fifteen percent would buy the products of a company that supports a pet charity over products of a company that does not support a pet charity, and that figure jumps to 65 percent if product quality and price are the same.

Pet owners could make or break an election. If they perceive that a presidential candidate doesn’t like pets, 66 percent of pet owners would not vote for him or her.

In the battle of the sexes, pets are actually in charge. Ninety percent of pet owners would fight more passionately for their pets than for money in a divorce. And the dating world reveals a similar allegiance. Sixty percent of pet owners would be turned off and decline a second date if a date didn’t like pets. Only 10 percent would give the person a second date and 30 percent would try to change the person’s mind about pets before dumping him or her. And in a stat that exemplifies the expression “man’s best friend,” 73 percent would choose their pet over a human if they could only have one friend.

Most view their pets as family members. Pet owners overwhelmingly believe that pets are an essential part of the family. Ninety-eight percent believe it’s important for children to grow up around pets. Twenty-five percent of pet owners report having tasted their pet’s food.

With all the love, of course, come a few caring complaints. Fifty-three percent said that scratching and shedding drive them most crazy about their pets. Likewise, under the category of “if they only had thumbs”:

> 50 percent of pet owners wish their pets could brush their own teeth
> And yes ... 40 percent wish their pets could clean up after they go No. 2
> Only 3 percent wish their pets could feed themselves.

Despite these minor concerns, it’s clear that most pets play an important role in their owners’ lives. It’s up to you to help nurture that bond.



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