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Pet Product Spending is Up: How Come?

Guest post by Carol Bryant

I love pet products. I love being around them, learning about them, finding the ones that really stand out and are actually good for our beloved pets (mostly dogs in my case), and then sharing that info with Dex blogpaws denver friends, family, fans, blog readers, and the general public.  It’s a passion and one that my heart is following career-wise, too.

My heart beats dog, as I so readily wrote on BZTAT’s mural at BlogPaws Denver. Heck, my dog Dexter made headlines recently with his busy holiday lifestyle.

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) reports in their 2011-2012 APPA National Pet Owners Survey that $50.84 billion dollars will be spent in the U.S. Pet Industry for 2011. Staggering, isn’t it?

For 2011 of that $50.84 billion, here is the U.S. breakdown:

Estimated Breakdown:                                          
Food                                                      $19.53 billion 
Supplies/OTC Medicine                           $11.4 billion
Vet Care                                                 $14.11 billion
Live animal purchases                             $2.15 billion
Pet Services: grooming & boarding           $3.65 billion 

The economy is tumultuous at best and people are spending. In taking a purely informal survey with family, friends, and pet lovers in general, the general consensus revealed more was spent this year than in previous years. I asked one pet industry expert his take on why. “People are getting laid off or losing their jobs, so they are home more and spending time with their pets. They want to give back to their pets the way their pets give so freely and lovingly to them.”

That’s certainly one theory.

I’ve been to more pet product expos, shows, and industry events this year than in the past three years combined. Part of that is because I love learning, networking, and being around like-minded pet people. Part of it is because I want to share pet product news with people in general. A part, I admit, however, is because I want to buy things for my dog. And my salary isn’t Rockefeller by a long shot.

Another theory is more people have pets, so the spending will naturally increase. Perhaps this is true, with the same APPA survey reporting the total number of pets owned in the U.S. (in millions) as:

  • Bird – 16.2
  • Cat – 86.4
  • Dog – 78.2
  • Equine – 7.9
  • Freshwater Fish – 151.1
  • Saltwater Fish – 8.61
  • Reptile – 13.0
  • Small Animal – 16.0.

The numbers of pets relinquished to shelters has risen dramatically, too, which puts a completely different mind-boggling thought processes into this post, and perhaps one for a future musing.

I am curious, though, my pet blogging friends, community, and writers: Why do you think spending on pets has increased so dramatically? Is the pet product market as recession proof as headlines indicate?

Whatever your pet is receiving this holiday season, a handmade toy or a stocking to rival Rudolph, a candle lit in his or her memory, or perhaps the holidays are being bypassed this year; commercialism and all, my wish is a simple one: Peace to all, a loving home and a full tummy for pets here, near, and far. Happy Holidays and Happy Spending.

About the author: Carol Bryant has traveled with dogs for over 15 years and is touted as a dog product and travel expert. A frequent media contributor, Carol has appeared on Animal Radio and Oprah Radio’s Gayle King Show, WBAL-TV, News12CT, and as a guest speaker at conferences and seminars about social media, writing, dogs and dog travel. She is also a repeat nominee from the Dog Writers Association of America.  Visit her blog at www.fidoseofreality.com and the FIDO Friendly magazine blog at www.fidofriendly.com/blog, winner of the Best Dog Blog from Dogtime Media. 


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  1. I think the new generation of young adults are having pets instead of babies! Young professionals are getting married later in life and starting families later too. In San Francisco, there was a recent report that the dog population is greater than the child population. Case in point. Combine that with disposable income and you get 50 billion spent dollars! My wife and I (and almost all my friends) got a dog first…then kid. I certainly don’t agree with the “expert”, in that unemployed people are spoiling their pets…makes no sense. In fact, I bet the rise in shelter animal population is due to unemployment. There is a disproportionate number of employed people in this country driving the economy. For example, in San Francisco you can barely get a dinner reservation at any of the $$$ restaurants. Recession?…..not here.

  2. Very interesting, Brian. The “expert” also is heavily involved in the pet product world, so hearing opinions and real-life replies like this are so very much appreciated.

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