Fido Lives the Life of Riley: Americans Spend 53 Billion Dollars A Year on Their Pets

Several years back I operated a pet gift website. During the course of running the site I was exposed to many facts about American pet owners. One of those was the annual amount of money that people spent on their pets. Merchandizing wizards always have these kinds of facts at the ready as they desire greatly to carve out a greater and greater portion of that “annual market share” for themselves as profit. This, of course, is the goal of all advertising.

The year was 2002 and the annual sum that Americans spent on their pets was calculated to be more than 20 billion dollars at the time. I recall being staggered by the amount. I even jokingly mused that I had possibly missed my calling by entering a career in graphic design instead of pet retailing or veterinary medicine.

It’s now eleven years later and the new numbers reflect a staggering increase of money lavished on American dogs, cats, fish, lizards, turtles, snakes, birds, horses, you name it. The sum has nearly tripled in 11 years and we now collectively spend more  than 53 billion dollars a year on our animals.  That is NO small amount.

There are two pets in my house, and they get treats now and then, along with catnip and chew toys. But I haven’t lost my mind yet.  I’m not building a hot tube in the back yard for the dog, and I haven’t yet installed a special goldfish pond just for the cat. I am still clinging to sanity as a pet owner by the sheerest of threads.

Not only do some people dress their pets in outfits for Halloween and Christmas, which we’ve all seen, but “pet couture” is now an exploding trend as some pet owners actually shop for and acquire wardrobes of different outfits for their dogs to wear on a daily basis. I’m not sure if this perverse pet owner activity is yet classified as a bonafide mental illness, but it ought to be considered for inclusion in the 2013 PDR, don’t you think?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m bothered that right now there are probably at least 20 million dogs in America whose diets are better than many people’s. When dogs dine on filet mignon and people are eating cat food something’s just not right. Can I get an amen?

Below I have re-posted the article which dissects just exactly how we spend 53 billion dollars annually on our pets, along with some videos that take a peek at the hidden world of super pet luxury and the lavish lifestyles of rich and famous PETS in America.

See also:

These 4 Charts Explain Exactly How Americans Spend $52 Billion on Our Pets in a Year

By Derek Thompson

 Feb 23 2013, 9:00 AM ET 10

Americans spent an estimated $52 billion on our animals in 2012, according to the American Pet Products Association. That’s a lot of zeroes, so for context: It’s more than we spend on coffee and bottled water combined.

The APPA has data as far back as 1994. Their inflation-adjusted numbers are graphed below. This is the American pet economy. And it is booming.

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Where exactly do our 50 billion pet dollars go? Overwhelmingly to food and medicine. Also, fun fact: We spent $6.2 billion on grooming and treats for our pets in 2012. That’s more money than Facebook made in advertising revenue last year.

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What’s more expensive: dogs or cats? Well, the National Pet Owners Survey can’t tell us that exactly, but they do collect data on major spending categories on America’s two most popular animals. As you can see, both basically cost the same as far as food and most medicine goes. But dogs require more expensive boarding, grooming and toys.

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And finally — this has nothing to do with money, but it’s still fascinating — how many millions of families own pets, what kind, and how many?

Dogs call 46 million American households “home,” but families with cats and fish are much more likely to have more of those pets — perhaps because one of those animals is occasionally consuming the other.

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Homepage image: Patrick Clemens and his bulldog Beefy at the New Yorkie Runway Doggie Fashion Show (Reuters/Shannon


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