Americans continue to spend more and more on our cats, dogs and other furry friends. In fact, we spend $41 billion a year on our pets. This is more than the gross domestic product of all but 64 countries in the world.
Add up what Americans spend on pet food, health expenses, toys, houses, beds, clothes, grooming, jewelry and even Neuticles (240,000 pairs of these have been sold) and everything else that goes into caring for and spoiling our pets. This amount is more than what Americans spend on movies ($10.8 billion), playing video games ($11.6 billion) and listening to recorded music ($10.6 billion) combined.
No longer are the days when Spot will get a wash in the backyard with a hose when he’s dirty. He will get a grooming appointment and perhaps even be treated to a blueberry facial at a luxury pet spa. Princess doesn’t go to the kennel down the street. She goes to a five star pet hotel. She also gets to wear pearls and a Marilyn Monroe inspired pet dress.
Pets share our lives, our homes and even our beds. About 63% of U.S. households, or 71 million homes, now own at least one pet, up from 64 million just five years ago. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association says that 42% of dogs sleep in the same bed as their owner. The bond between humans and pets continues to grow closer, and for some the bond is similar to a parent’s bond with his/her child.
A Seattle newspaper video blogged several pet owners to see where their money goes.
Pet retailers and companies see this increase in how much pet “parents” spend on their beloved pets and are tailoring their stores, products and marketing to target the needs of their customers.
For example, PetSmart is shifting its company mission from being a pet food top seller to helping customers become better pet “parents.” They are adding PetHotels in their stores. While at a PetHotel, pets can take calls from their parent, cats get fish tanks to watch in their rooms, and there is a separate air filtration system for cats and dogs. This expansion has increased their service business from almost nothing in 2000 to $450 million this year.
There is even a Pet Fashion Week held in New York in August. These days, a pet’s wardrobe can include sweaters, bikinis, ball gowns, leather jackets, jewelry, and even high heels. Pet clothing designers can cater a pet’s outfit to a specific owner’s sense of style.
One of the most recently expansive parts of the pet industry is the pet food business. With the massive pet food recalls leading to thousands of cats and dogs dead or ill, pet owners are cautiously watching what we put in our pet’s mouth. One pet food industry executive calls this the “Godiva-ization” of food, referring to owners wanting human grade meats, visible vegetables, and nutritional supplements. (And of course, no poison or toxins in our pet food either.)
Owners are also spending more on their pet’s health. Americans spend $9.8 billion a year on veterinary services and an additional $9.9 billion on over-the-counter drugs and other health supplies for pets. Also, the range of veterinary services continues to grow. An older cat can get braces or a dog can have a face lift. Pet liposuction is even available if your pet needs to get rid of some unwanted pounds.
Pharmaceutical companies are jumping in the pet industry band wagon also. There is an anxiety drug for dogs or even a diet pill if your pet is a little on the round side. Americans are expected to spend 52% more on medicines to treat their pets this year than they spent five years ago.
Even the pooper scooper business is rapidly growing. There are over 350 businesses in the United States that are dedicated to picking up after your pet. The industry is growing by 50% annually.
One pet parent summed up how much he spends on his pet by calling his dog his 401(k) with paws because that’s where all his money goes.
Sources: Business Week, Seattle P-I, various Itchmo reports