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Pet Ownership Through the Ages

Photo: Courtesy of Petra Bouchalová

Though we all love our pets, how we love them can differ depending on our generation. Let’s take a look at the differences.

No matter our age, the unconditional love we have for our pets looks the same across different generations. However, how we spoil our pets, how we choose to spend our days with them, and even why we got them in the first place can vary from one generation to the next. Based on the American Pet Products Association’s latest National Pet Owners Survey, let’s take a look at the different ways we care for our pets and see if you resonate more with your own generation or with another. 

Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2000)

Just getting into pet ownership themselves, Generation Z represents about 11 percent of the pet-owning population. Though all generations believe in the health benefits of pets, this group heavily derives stress relief, decreased anxiety and depression, and increased exercise from owning a pet. They like exercising, walking, running, and hiking with their pets.

Millennials (born between 1980 and 1994)

Millennials are the largest pet-owning generation, making up 31 percent of all pet owners. Though they delay marriage and family life, pets are still a priority. This determined group is willing to spend more money to get the pet they want compared to other generations. Regarding their pets’ health, millennials are more inclined toward holistic remedies, pet vitamins, supplements, and calming products for their pets. 

Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979)

Generation X makes up 26 percent of the pet-owning population. Additionally, this group is likelier to have two dogs compared to other generations. They believe that pets can find companionship in other pets. Though they buy more organic dog food, their preferences are evenly split between premium and generic pet food. On a related note, they also have the highest percentage of overweight dogs.

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Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)

As the second-largest pet-owning population, Baby Boomers make up 29 percent of pet owners.  This is a generation that wants the best care for their pets. They often hire professional pet care services to assist. They have their dogs groomed and taken to the veterinarian more often. They are more likely to use kennel and boarding services for their pets (versus bringing them along) when they travel. Because they use these services most often, they also spend more on these services than other generations. Though they are not interested in brand names, they still spend more on pet food and treats than other generations.

Builders (born between 1925 and 1945)

Making up the smallest segment of pet owners, Builders are only 4 percent of the population.  This generation tends to spend the most time their pets during the day. They strongly believe people should have a pet only if they are committed to spending time with them. “Eco-friendly,” “BPA-free,” and “ethically sourced” are not important labels for this generation; instead, they value “made in USA” more. Builders spayed and neutered more pets compared to other generations. 

From the products we purchase to the services we use, one thing is clear: our pets are treasured members of our families. Across generations, pets are helping us cope with stress, anxiety, and social isolation. They help us stay fit and motivated. Life with pets is simply better.  

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