Pets, stand up and be counted

April 23, 2019
dvm360, dvm360 June 2019, Volume 50, Issue 6

If you need more proof that your veterinary patients are considered family members (as if!), weve got it for you. Wisdom Health is conducting a national pet census to coincide with the 2020 U.S. census.

Wisdom Health, a division of Mars Petcare, has announced that it will conduct a national pet census this year with plans to release the results alongside those of the upcoming 2020 U.S. census. Researchers will examine a wide range of topics related to pet breed, size, activity level and overall lifestyle:

  • Average number of pets in each household
  • Top purebred and mixed-breed dogs
  • Top pedigreed and random-bred cats
  • Places where people obtain their pets
  • Most popular feeding choices
  • Most popular recreational activities with pets
  • Most common reasons for obtaining a pet
  • Preventive healthcare regimens
  • Most commonly diagnosed disorders
  • Frequency of veterinary visits.

What's more, data collected from the pet census will be combined with Wisdom Panel's genetic data to glean more detailed information that can help veterinarians and owners improve the health of dogs and cats, company representatives say.

“Wisdom Health is a purpose-driven company focused on leveraging technology to make a better world for pets,” says Audrey Yoo, the company's general manager, in a media release. “Not only will the 2020 pet census provide a window into the lives of America's cats and dogs, but it will also better inform the relationship between pets, their owners, breeders, shelters and veterinarians with the ultimate goal of improved pet care and wellness.”

Wisdom Health hopes the insights drawn from the pet census combined with the genetic information from Wisdom Panel will help advance canine and feline health. “We're also hoping a genetic portrait of our nation's pets will lead to greater awareness of which breeds are predisposed to certain complex health conditions such as gastric dilatation and volvulus … or skin allergies (atopy), along with the genetic disorders found in the Wisdom Panel array of tests,” says Angela Hughes, DVM, PhD, a genetics expert at Wisdom Health, in the release.

2010 National Mutt Census findings

This is not the first time a pet census has been taken. Ten years ago, Mars Veterinary surveyed more than 16,000 owners of mixed-breed dogs. Here are the key findings from the 2010 National Mutt Census, according to the Wisdom release:

  • German shepherds were among the most popular purebred and mixed-breed dogs.
  • Most owners of mixed-breed dogs prefer smaller dogs over larger dogs. Only 11% of mixed breeds weighed more than 80 lb.
  • People obtained mixed-breed dogs primarily from shelters (46%), followed by friends, neighbors and relatives (18%).

Dry diets were the most popular feeding choice (65%), surpassing mixed wet and dry food (21%), wet food (5%), and raw food and scraps (9%).

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