Why Do Dogs Smell Like Corn Chips? 10 Fascinating Facts About Pets

In honor of the furry, scaly, and sometimes slimy companions who live under our roofs, we thought it’s only fitting to lay out some warm and fuzzy, wild ‘n’ crazy facts about pets. Like: Are dogs or cats more popular? Where do they sleep, and do we celebrate their birthdays? The answers to these burning questions will get you appreciating these creatures even more than you do already.

How many of us have pets?

A whole lot. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 48.4% of U.S. households have at least one pet.

Which are more popular: Dogs or cats?

That depends on how you count. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 36% of households own dogs while 30% own cats. So Fido wins, right? Not so fast. Apparently there are more cats per household (2.1) than dogs (1.6).

Hey, what about other animals?

Let’s not ignore our feathered and scaly friends. Here are the numbers of households that cater to rarer home companions:

  • Fish: 7.7 million
  • Birds: 3.6 million
  • Horses: 1.7 million
  • Rabbits: 1.4 million
  • Turtles: 1.3 million
  • Hamsters: 877,000
  • Guinea pigs: 847,000
  • Lizards: 726,000
  • Gerbils: 234,000
  • Ferrets: 334,000

City with the most (and least) pets

Tucson, AZ, is the city with the most pets (nearly 60%), according to the U.S. Census. Meanwhile, New York City hangs at the bottom, with only about 20% of households having animals.

How much do pets cost?

You might pick up one at the pound for free, but it’ll still cost you. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the average U.S. household spends just over $500 per year on pets. That’s more than they spend on alcohol, phone lines, or men’s or boys’ clothes (because let’s face it, your pooch needs a cute sweater way more than Dad does).

So what do pets do for us?

Pets may gnaw our shoes, shred our couches, and drain our bank accounts, but they give back plenty. According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, pet owners were less lonely and preoccupied than those who didn’t have a furry companion greeting them at their front door. Pet owners were also more physically fit, boasted greater self-esteem, and were more outgoing. All in all, pet owners are happier people.

What about the strays?

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about 6.5 million animals enter shelters every year. Sadly, 1.5 million end up euthanized, but that number is down from the past, thanks largely to the fact that 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted by loving families. An additional 710,000 animals were just lost, and get returned to their owners.

Do we celebrate their birthdays?

Among pet owners, 45% say they get their pets a birthday present and 64% also get a gift for the holidays. Because honestly, don’t we all deserve a new squeaky toy on occasion?

Where do they sleep?

According to Harris Polls, 81% of cat owners let their felines lounge on the bed, while 73% of dog owners allow their canines the same sleeping privileges.

Why do dogs’ paws smell like corn chips?

Now for the question that’s been stumping dog owners for decades: It’s a condition nicknamed “Frito feet,” which describes how dogs’ paws smell just like this delicious snack.

Turns out, it could be due to the Proteus bacteria, which is found on dogs’ feet and gives off a sweet, yeasty odor. It’s no cause for alarm; however, if you don’t love the smell, well, that’s just one more reason to keep your dog off the bed, right?

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