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News / Life / Pets & Wildlife

Study: Washington home to ‘most responsible dog parents’

State’s owners take ‘care of pets hygiene and mental health’

By Rosemary Montalvo, The News Tribune
Published: January 26, 2024, 6:04am

TACOMA — There once was a time in which it was completely outrageous and even controversial to refer to our dogs as our children, but in this post-pandemic world that we live in, it is the new norm.

Our furry friends offer a companionship like no other, so it’s no surprise that people turn to pups for emotional support. In fact, about half of U.S. households consider their pet — dog and otherwise — to be a member of the family, according to the Pew Research Center.

According to Forbes Advisor, pet ownership in the U.S. has grown significantly in the past 35 years. As of 2023, more than 65 million households in America have a dog, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Whether it’s taking them to vet visits, grooming them regularly or taking them on daily walks, dog owners do a lot to make sure that their pups are well taken care of and feel their best.

But caring for a dog is not cheap, and many dog owners have to make changes and sacrifices to their lifestyle, said Forbes Advisor. In fact, a recent analysis by Synchrony found that 45 percent of dog owners are not prepared for the financial expense of becoming a pet parent.

With that being said, have you ever wondered which state has the most best, most responsible dog owners?

A new Forbes Advisor study compared and ranked each state from most to least responsible dog owners. The study surveyed 10,000 dog owners, 200 from each state, and used 16 metrics to measure how responsible dog owners are and how well they did staying up-to-date with routine pet care.

Topping the list for the most responsible dog owners in the country is Washington.

What makes a responsible dog owner?

The study determined the ranking of states with the most and least responsible dog parents based on the percentage of who:

  • Visit the vet at least annually
  • Report that their dogs are up-to-date on their vaccinations
  • Walk their dogs daily
  • Report that their dog has a location device
  • Administer flea/tick treatment more than annually
  • Administer heartworm medication more than annually
  • Trim their dog’s nails every month
  • Brush their dog’s teeth weekly

According to the study, the five states with the most responsible dog parents are:

  • Washington
  • New York
  • Maryland
  • Florida
  • Georgia

It’s a dog-friendly state

Washington was ranked as the state with the most responsible dog owners in the country, scoring a 100 out 100 on the study’s ranking metric.

The study notes that Washington dog owners take “care of their pets’ hygiene and mental health through socialization.”

Lindsey Heaney, the director of communications and outreach at The Human Society for Tacoma and Pierce County, said that she agrees that Washington definitely has responsible dog owners and hears lots of success stories from dogs that are adopted from the shelter.

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“We see wonderful success stories all the time, whether it be foster parents fostering a dog and really bringing it back to health or folks that adopt dogs that become a part of the family,” Heaney said.

Heaney added that over 2,000 dogs were adopted from the The Humane Society of Tacoma and Pierce County in 2023 alone, which was a big increase of adoptions compared to 2021 and 2022.

Heaney said that Washington in general is a dog-friendly state and also a great place for people to own dogs because they make great companions for people who enjoy being outside and active.

According to Forbes Advisor, 94.5 percent of Washington dog owners reported that they take their dogs to the vet for a check-up at least once a year and 90 percent reported that their dog is up-to-date on vaccinations.

Washington also ranked number one in the following metrics:

  • Percentage of dogs that have a location device (such as a microchip/AirTag)
  • Percentage of dog owners who take their pets to training classes
  • Percentage of dog owners who brush their dog’s teeth at least once a week

Although Forbes Advisor used several metrics that were dependent on finances to measure how responsible dog owners are in the United States, it’s important to note that not every dog owner has the financial capability to afford to do all of the things listed above.

Heaney said that being a responsible dog owner comes down to knowing what makes your dog happy and ensuring that they are healthy.

Whether your pup enjoys going on long walks or simply cuddling on the couch, make sure to do those things and turn to low cost veterinary care if you need financial assistance to ensure your dog is healthy.

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