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4 in 5 claim their pets are bigger sports fans than them

The majority said they watch sports with their pets (79%).

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Dog playing outside in the garden with a little blue ball
(Ground Picture via Shutterstock)

Is your pet a bigger sports fan than you? A new survey suggests that, yes, they probably are.

A poll of 2,000 American pet parents found that four in five claimed their pets to be bigger sports fans than them, out of the 68% who identified as sports fans themselves.

That’s probably because we’re bringing them to the viewing party: 79% said they watch sports with their pets, and 83% even said their furry friends have a favorite sport to watch. Pets appear to be drawn to sports with a lot of action and running, including football (40%), soccer (19%) and basketball (14%).

Commissioned by PetSmart and conducted by OnePoll, the study also revealed that 78% of pet parents think their pet has a favorite athlete, which may be why a majority of them (87%) have either named a pet after an athlete or would consider naming a pet after an athlete in the future.

Some respondents even shared their sports-inspired names: Lionel, Messi, Bolt, Fenway, Maholmes, Jackson, Hulk, Labron, Japhet and many more.

Pet sport-mania even goes into themed items. Two in three pet parents (65%) said they’ve bought their pet a sports team-themed item, including pet bandanas (19%), collars (19%), jerseys (18%) and stuffed toys (17%), all sporting their favorite teams.

Of those who have bought sports team-themed clothing for their pets, 90% will dress their pet in the item when their team is playing.

For many, it pays off: 83% swear they’ve seen their favorite team win a game because their pet was present. A quarter (26%) said they watch sports with their pets because they’re actually a lucky charm.

“We know that pet parents will do anything for their pets, and there’s no question that pets are the real MVPs in our lives,” said Will Smith, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at PetSmart. “This new data not only reveals a pet’s excitement for sports, but it also highlights how we bring pets into all our favorite activities as they are a reflection of our own personalities and interests.”

The survey also found sports are just one type of show pets like to watch. Respondents shared their pets like to watch cartoons (45%), nature shows (41%), movies (41%) and comedy specials (37%).

How do pet parents know their pets are even watching what’s on the TV? The survey asked and found that after it gets turned on, pets react by staring at the screen (42%). And once they recognize something on-screen, they are likely to react by following the action with their eyes (54%), becoming vocal (52%) or perking their ears up (50%).

Overall, 69% of owners said their pets love watching shows with them.


  • Football - 40%
  • Soccer - 19%
  • Basketball - 14%
  • Baseball - 13%
  • Golf - 4%
  • Hockey - 3%
  • Tennis - 3%
  • Motor racing - 2%
  • Bowling - 1%

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 American pet owners was commissioned by PetSmart between January 4 and January 5, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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