Fast food is going to the dogs: Survey

People food is the new dog food.

One of every six American households orders fast food for a dog during at least some of their drive-thru or take-out visits, according to a new survey by marketing research firm Relevation Research.

A drive-thru window of a Wendy's restaurant in Peoria, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

About one-third of dog owners report going through the drive-thru with their canines while about four out of five of those say they order someone something specifically for their pet.

The online survey drew responses from 1,499 adults in March. People visited McDonald's most often with their dogs, followed by Burger King and Wendy's.

McDonald's: Golden or broken?
McDonald's: Golden or broken?

Millennials recorded even more trips with Fido than overall dog owners. Meanwhile, male diners visited fast food with their dogs twice as often as women.

"QSR and dog food/treat manufacturers should team up to design dog-safe offerings," said Nan Martin, principal at Relevation Research, in a release. "Companies catering to the dog will win with owners who want to, guilt-free, feel like they're spoiling the dog."

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With fast food restaurant visits up just 1 percent for the year ending in February, according to NPD Group, targeting canine customers might be a good idea for chains struggling to bring in diners.

At least one emerging chain has already caught on to the trend. Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar even has a specific menu for man's best friend that includes a grilled hamburger patty with brown rice, a grilled chicken breast with brown rice and plain brown rice.