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How Many Pets Are in the World & US in 2023? A Deep Dive into the Surprising Statistics

For millions of people worldwide, pets aren‘t just animals – they‘re family. Recent surveys reveal that the vast majority of pet owners consider their dogs, cats, birds and other companion animals to be members of the household. But just how many furry friends are there? What types of pets do people prefer? And how much do pet owners invest in caring for their "kids"?

Let‘s explore the data and trends surrounding global and US pet populations in 2023 to find out more about our ever-growing multispecies families!

Over 90 Million US Households Have Pets – and That Number Keeps Rising

According to the 2022-2023 National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 70% of US households currently own a pet. That equates to over 90 million homes with pets right now.

To fully appreciate the scale, there are more households with pets in the US than the entire populations of California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania combined.

Not only that, but the percentage of US households owning pets has increased steadily over the past 30 years:

  • In 1988, 56% of households owned a pet
  • By 2012, that number rose to 62%
  • Today, 70% of US households have pets

With millennials starting families and baby boomers becoming empty nesters, growth in the pet population is likely to continue.

There Are Now More Than 370 Million Pet Cats and 470 Million Pet Dogs Worldwide

Globally, dogs and cats reign supreme as the most popular companion pets.

While estimates vary on the precise numbers, roughly 900 million dogs and 600 million cats are thought to live worldwide as of 2022 reports Pet Secure and Axios.

Of that total:

  • Approximately 470 million dogs worldwide are considered pets
  • An estimated 373 million cats globally are pets

So while the overall dog population still outpaces cats, the numbers of dogs and cats kept as pets are closer than you might expect!

Pet Dogs Outnumber Pet Cats in the US – For Now

Here in the United States, pet dogs remain slightly ahead of cats – but only by a tail.

In 2023, there are approximately:

  • 65 million pet dogs in the US today
  • 47 million pet cats

However, cats have been steadily closing the gap. Thirty years ago, the ratio of dogs to cats was nearly 3 to 1. Now, dogs lead cats by just under 50%.

Looking ahead, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) projects:

  • The US pet dog population will rise to over 100 million by 2030.
  • Pet cats will grow to exceed 82 million in the same period.

So while Americans have long favored "man‘s best friend", appreciation for feline companions is clearly on the rise!

Different Cultures Show Varied Pet Preferences

Pet ownership rates and preferences differ widely based on culture and geographic region around the globe.

For example, in China, dogs edged out cats 74 million to 67 million as pets in 2022. Yet only around 20% of Chinese households overall owned either type of pet.

Meanwhile, in the EU, cats at 113 million actually surpassed dogs at 92 million, likely owing to more concentrated urban populations.

Brazil displayed a strong preference for canine companions at 54 million dogs versus just 24 million pet cats.

Other country pet populations:

  • UK: 13 million dogs; 12 million cats
  • Japan: 9 million dogs; 10 million cats
  • Australia: 6 million dogs; 5 million cats

While the US leads in total dogs and cats kept as pets, other regions like Australia and Europe have higher pet ownership rates relative to households.

Nearly 50% of Australian households own a dog versus 38% in the US. And 29% of US households own a cat, below the 27% of Japanese households with felines.

Cultural attitudes and housing situations clearly influence both pet ownership and preferences.

US Pet Ownership Rates Vary Widely by State

Within the US, pet populations fluctuate significantly depending on the state.

Southern and more rural states show the highest rates of pet ownership:

  • Vermont – 70% of households
  • Oklahoma – 65%
  • Indiana – 69%
  • Tennessee – 62%
  • Ohio – 62%

Coastal urban areas like Oregon and Texas have lower ownership rates:

  • Oregon: 50% of households
  • Texas: 43% of households

Experts attribute these discrepancies to factors like housing (apartments vs. large homes with yards), costs of living, transit time and schedules, and cultural attitudes.

The popularity of different pet types also shifts by state based on climate, housing, lifestyle and other variables.

Here Are the Most Popular Pets in the US Today

While dogs and cats make up the bulk of companion animals in the US, other pets also have a strong following.

Here are the numbers of US households owning popular pet types according to the APPA 2022-2023 survey:

  1. Dogs – 65 million households
  2. Cats – 47 million households
  3. Freshwater fish – 11 million households
  4. Birds – 6 million households
  5. Small animals (rabbits, hamsters, etc) – 7 million households
  6. Reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes) – 6 million households
  7. Saltwater fish – 2 million households
  8. Horses – 2 million households

Although dogs and cats dominate in absolute numbers, fish, birds, and small mammals are welcomed into millions of pet-loving homes.

Most Pet Owners Have Dogs – But Cat-Only Homes Are Rising

While there are slightly more pet dogs than cats overall in the US, the distribution among households shows a clear canine preference:

  • 74% of US pet owners have a dog
  • Just 47% of pet owners have a cat

However, the percentage of exclusively cat-owning households has grown from 25% in 2012 to nearly 30% today based on AVMA data.

So while many pet owners still maintain a dog-centric household, feline-only homes are on the rise as cat ownership gains acceptance.

Pedigree Pooches: Labrador Retrievers Lead as Top Dog Breed

The Labrador Retriever continues its reign as the most popular dog breed in the US, occupying an impressive one-quarter of American households with dogs.

Rounding out the top five pedigreed pooches as of 2022 are:

  1. German Shepherd
  2. Golden Retriever
  3. French Bulldog
  4. Bulldog

However, mixed-breeds have made up a larger portion of the US dog population in recent decades – now accounting for about 40% of pet dogs.

Experts attribute this trend to increased shelter and rescue adoption rates, along with perception of some mixed-breeds as healthier or more unique.

Pet Ownership Skews Young… and Female

Demographic factors like age, gender, and household status impact both pet ownership levels and preferences.

Younger generations exhibit the highest rates of pet ownership. Millennials ages 18-39 make up the largest share of overall pet owners at 32%, with Generation Z ages 10-23 coming in at 14%.

Women are also more likely to own pets than men. 71% of female pet owners identified as primary pet caretakers versus 64% of males.

Single adults showed the highest rates of pet ownership at 75%, versus just 65% ownership among married couples. Pets offer companionship in the absence of human family members.

Pet Ownership Cements Its Place as a Health Priority

Owning a pet has transitioned from a luxury to a central priority – with health benefits cited as a primary incentive.

The rise of pets as family coincides with increasing medical evidence confirming companion animals‘ positive effects on human mental and physical health.

Studies demonstrate pets can help:

  • Lower blood pressure & cholesterol
  • Reduce stress and loneliness
  • Increase opportunities for exercise
  • Enhance social connectedness
  • Lessen symptoms of depression
  • Improve overall psychological wellbeing

Veterinary advances enabling pets to live longer have also strengthened pet-human bonds and willingness to invest in care.

Pet Spending Reflects Premium Treatment

Pet owners are increasingly prioritizing upscale nutrition, veterinary services, and products:

  • Total US pet industry expenditures reached $136.8 billion in 2022.
  • Spending on pets has grown steadily at a compound annual growth rate of 6% over the past two decades.
  • Pet food, supplies and over-the-counter medications make up the bulk of spending.
  • Veterinary care, pet sitting, grooming and other services are also growing rapidly.

Premium, specialized diets now account for more than 80% of pet food purchases, according to Nielsen data. Services like pet insurance, doggy daycares, and upscale spas cater to doting pet parents.

The symbiotic "humanization" of pets along with an expanding market for products and care has defined the last decade for the industry – a trend that will likely only accelerate.

Caring for America‘s Pets – It‘s a Full-Time Job!

Between buying the best foods and toys, scheduling vet appointments, cleaning litter boxes, and providing endless cuddles and playtime, properly caring for a pet is a major endeavor.

To tally up the time commitment:

  • The average dog owner spends 1 hour every day tending to their pup‘s needs. That equates to 7 hours per week!
  • For cat owners, the average daily time investment is 1 hour and 13 minutes – just over 8 hours weekly.
  • Fish and small mammal pets require less hands-on time at around 30 minutes per day.
  • Reptile and bird caretakers invest around 45 minutes daily on average.

All told, the over 90 million US pet owners expend more than 840 million hours per week caring for their animals! It‘s a labor of love.

Pets Offer Companionship That Can‘t Be Quantified

While gauging pet populations and ownership rates provides helpful insight into our society, these statistics can‘t fully capture the joy, comfort and companionship that pets bring into our families.

There are simply some benefits of pet ownership that numbers alone fail to measure:

  • The enthusiasm when your dog greets you at the door, tail wagging wildly
  • The purr of a cat lounging blissfully in your lap
  • The delight of teaching tricks to an eager, bright-eyed puppy
  • The therapeutic sensation of holding or petting an animal
  • The adventure and exercise provided by an energetic dog hike or play session

Over 90 million households in the US have already discovered these and countless other joys. For those of us who consider pets family, we know just one is all it takes to make a house a home.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.