Majority of pet owners not cutting back on veterinary care

A new poll released by the Associated Press and explored how the recession is impacting pet owners’ relationships with their animals. It found that the majority of respondents (85%) are not cutting back on pet care expenses due to economic pressures, even though other polls show a majority of people having to make cutbacks in other areas.

Predictably, lower-income pet owners are twice as likely to have had to make cuts as higher-income owners (11% vs. 20%).

Among the 15 percent reducing pet-related expenditures, cutbacks can be drastic. Half (54%) stated that they are deferring routine visits to the veterinarian, while one in five (21%) are also putting off veterinary visits for serious problems. One in four (27%) are even considering giving up their pet due to financial difficulties.

The most common cutback is buying fewer toys and clothes for their pets, followed by switching to a cheaper type of food.

Nevertheless, in spite of the economy a good number of pet owners planned to include their pet in holiday festivities this year. 43 percent of animal owners planned on purchasing a gift for their pet this season. Canines also have an edge over the felines when it comes to owners expecting to buy a holiday present for their pet (48% vs. 28%).

The survey also revealed that the majority of pet owners in the U.S. believe they have a lot in common with the fictional Dr. Dolittle.

67 percent of pet owners claim they can comprehend their pet’s own language, and 62 percent think their pet understands what they say as well. These numbers not only include owners of dogs and cats, but also horses, hamsters, birds, fish, snakes and other animals.

But all species are not created equal in this case. Dog owners are more likely than cat owners to say that their pets understand them. More than two-thirds (69%) of surveyed dog owners insist their pets understand when they speak to them, while just half (50%) of cat owners say the same.

Gender also plays a role in owners’ exchanges with their animals, with far more women than men reporting they are on the same wavelength as their pets. 71 percent of women think their pets understand them most of the time, compared with just 53 percent of men. On the other side of the conversation, 73 percent of women think they understand their animal’s language, compared to 59 percent of men.

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