Both Existing and New Pet Owners Plan to Buy or Adopt Pets in Next Three Years, According to L.E.K. Consulting

BOSTON, MA (July 13, 2021) – The pandemic-related boom in pet ownership is expected to slow, but positive growth in pet ownership is likely to continue even after the pandemic ends.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 boosted pet ownership in the U.S. Global management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting estimates that the total number of dogs and cats in the U.S. grew by 6 to 7% in 2020 compared to 2019 – as consumers confined in lockdown restrictions turned to animals for companionship, in many cases for the first time.

“We believe part of this was ‘pulled-forward demand,’ as many consumers who were already considering pets decided to move forward with ownership sooner than later. However, some of it was new pet ownership among consumers who had no prior plans to get a pet,” said Lauren DeVestern, Head of the Pet Practice at L.E.K. Consulting.

Long -term, pet ownership growth is not a fad, nor was it a “one-off” driven by the pandemic. Pet ownership was growing steadily prior to the pandemic. Likewise, consumers remain interested in pet ownership even as pandemic restrictions are removed, according to The Great Reopening and Priority Reset: Consumer Insights, conducted by L.E.K. Consulting. The survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers was conducted at the end of the first quarter 2021.

While the growth rate in the total number of pets in the U.S. is expected to slow down after 2020 – due to the pulled-forward demand seen during the pandemic – slightly positive growth is expected to continue through 2025, according to L.E.K. In fact, the survey results show that between 11% and 13% of pet owners reported interest in buying or adopting additional pets in 2021-23, and 3-10% of non-owners plan to buy or adopt during the same time frame. Twenty-nine percent of those planning for a pet within the next three years said the pandemic made them more likely to buy or adopt in the future.

“Those findings match what we are observing – demand for pets remains high. In fact, 2021 appears to be on track to be another strong year since many consumers are still on waiting lists. After 2021, the growth rate in total pets will slow down further but is expected to remain slightly positive through 2025,” said DeVestern.  

“The figures are encouraging for the pet products industry, and investors should remain positive despite the pandemic-related surge,” continued DeVestern. “It is also worth remembering that millions of pets die each year. Pet owners are strongly devoted to their pets and to the experience of pet ownership, and that means that ‘replacement’ pets – for lack of a better term – drive a constant influx of new pets each year.”

About L.E.K. Consulting
L.E.K. Consulting is a global management consulting firm that uses deep industry expertise and rigorous analysis to help business leaders achieve practical results with real impact. We are uncompromising in our approach to helping clients consistently make better decisions, deliver improved business performance and create greater shareholder returns. The firm advises and supports global companies that are leaders in their industries — including the largest private- and public-sector organizations, private equity firms, and emerging entrepreneurial businesses. Founded in 1983, L.E.K. employs more than 1,600 professionals across the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe. For more information, go to