A tale of two statistics: Pet ownership by single people up, vet visits down

While the number of single people who own pets continues to climb, the number of pets being taken to the vet at least once a year is falling.

Although the former is great news, the latter is less so, say officials from the American Veterinary Medical Association, publishers of the U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook.

Since it’s Friday, let’s hit the good news first. According to the survey, the number of single people who own a pet jumped almost 17 percent from 2006 to 2011, with 46.9 percent of single people surveyed owning pets in 2006 and 54.7 percent owning pets in 2011. Families still are the most common owner for a pet, despite the increase, the study showed.

Owning a pet has been shown to be good for human health, as it reduces stress levels by increasing oxytocin levels during pet interaction. Stress has been shown to play a part in a host of health problems, such as heart disease.

“It’s interesting to see that more and more single people are discovering the comfort and satisfaction that owning a pet can offer. Pets are powerful, positive influences on our lives, offering unique emotional, psychological and physical health benefits to their owners,” said Dr. Douglas Aspros, president of the AVMA, in a statement. “Unfortunately, despite these positive trends, people aren’t bringing their pets into the veterinarian as often as they should. That trend is worrisome, not only in terms of the pet’s health but in terms of public health. Families, no matter what size, need to bring their pets into the veterinarian – at least once a year – to maintain optimal health.”

So that would bring us to the bad news. More than 25 percent of pet-owning households didn’t take their pets to the vet in 2011 – a staggering 14.3 percent jump from 2006. Missing routine checkups can cause health issues to be missed and make for higher treatment costs later, as prevention tends to be cheaper, AVMA notes.

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