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Pet Industry Spending Tops $48 Billion in 2010

Posted: March 17, 2011, 3 p.m., EDT

The pet industry continues to perform as recession resistant, according to the American Pet Products Association, which released its 2010 Pet Industry Spending Figures today. Overall spending in the pet industry grew by 6.2 percent from $45.53 billion in 2009 to $48.35 billion in 2010.

The APPA forecasts continued growth through 2011 with a total spending to exceed $50 billion, a 5.1 percent increase.

The overall spending figures include food, supplies, veterinary care, live animal purchases and other services such as grooming, boarding and pet sitting.

Health care related pet spending continues to show the greatest growth within the pet industry, according to APPA figures, with spending on veterinary care growing by 8.1 percent to $13.01 billion in 2010.

Veterinary and health related services are growing at a fast rate because pet owners are treating their pets as they would their children, said Bob Vetere, president of APPA.

“Pet owners are searching for more ways to enhance their pets’ lives with products and services similar to those that humans enjoy,” Vetere said. “And the industry has answered that call with a more diverse array of offerings than ever.”

Pet insurance, which is included in veterinary care figures, is a huge area of potential growth, the APPA noted. With improved policies that include more conditions, even at increased premiums, pet insurance will become more attractive for pet owners and more lucrative for insurance carriers and veterinary hospitals, according to the APPA.

Of all categories, veterinary care has the largest anticipated growth at 8.5 percent, which would result in an estimated $14.11 billion in spending in 2011.

Pet services is another category that has experienced sustained and diversified growth in response to the increasing demands pet owners face in their every day lives, according to the APPA. The service category has more than doubled in the past decade and accounted for $3.51 billion spent in 2010.

Pet food increased 6.8 percent to $18.76 billion in 2010 while pet supplies and over-the-counter medications increased 5.1 percent to $10.94 billion in 2010.

Click to enlargeSales of live animals declined 1.4 percent to $2.13 billion in 2010.

Another survey released today by the APPA takes an in-depth look at the pet owners actually doing all this spending. The 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey examines the demographics, buying habits and other traits of U.S. owners of dogs, cats, fish, birds, equine, reptiles and other small animals.

For instance, the survey shows that the number of U.S. households that own a pet has increased by 2.1 percent to an all time high of 72.9 million. About four out of 10 pet owning households are multiple pet owners.

The breakdown of the number of pets owned are as follows: 78 million dogs, 86.4 million cats, 151.1 million freshwater fish, 8.61 million saltwater fish, 16.2 million birds, 16 million small animals, 13 million reptiles and 7.9 million equines.

For the first time, the survey asked respondents if the economy influenced pet ownership in any way. The majority of pet owners reported that the economy had not affected their decision to own a pet. In fact, anywhere from 2 percent to 5 percent of pet owners reported spending more money on their pet than in previous years. However, the survey revealed that 18 percent of non pet owners did not get a pet because of the economy.

Excluding equines, dog owners spent the most to purchase their pet at $364, up from $121 in 2008. The increased price of pure breed dogs is a contributing factor, according to the APPA.

The greatest expenses for dogs and cat owners are food, kennel/boarding, routine veterinary visits and surgical veterinary visits.


The greatest expenses for freshwater fish owners are ponds and expenses associated with owning them. Saltwater fish owners spend the most each year on aquariums, aquarium stands and other supplies, according to the survey.


The greatest costs associated with owning a bird are cages, routine veterinary visits and surgical veterinary visits.

Owners of small animals and reptiles paid the most for food, other supplies and routine veterinary visits.

Number of Pets Owned in the United States
Dogs                            78 million
Cats                             86.4 million
Freshwater Fish            151.1 million
Saltwater Fish               8.61 million
Birds                            16.2 million
Small Animals               16 million
Reptiles                        13 million
Equines                        7.9 million
Source: American Pet Products Association
The greatest expenses for equines are trainers/exercisers, farriers, routine veterinary visits and surgical veterinary visits.

There are some estimates that project pet owners spend an average of $11,000 per pet during its lifetime, even in times of recession, according to the APPA.

When asked about veterinary visits, owners took their cats to the veterinarian more often in 2010 (2.4) than in 2008 (2.1) and spent an average of $423 on surgical veterinary visits as compared to $278 in 2008.

The average number of times a dog has been taken to the veterinarian in the past 12 months is almost three (2.7), which is nearly identical to the number of visits in 2008 (2.8).

Bird owners reported the same number of visits as last year (2), but spent significantly more on surgical visits ($190 up from $55).
The use of specialty formulated food for dogs declined to 53 percent in 2010 from 67 percent in 2008 while such food for cats dropped only slightly to 60 percent from 62 percent.

Looking at training devices, about 48 percent of dog owners continue to use treats as a way to train their dog, versus 12 percent of cat owners using treats as a reward.

One out of 10 dog owners also used an unspecified “other” device as a training method, as well as professional training, training books and videos and bitter apple.

The percentage of pet owners who purchased gifts for their pet in 2010 is practically parallel to what was reported in 2008, according to the APPA. However, there was a 30 percent gain in dollars spent on dog gifts (to $73 million from $56 million) as a result of dog owners spending more money per gift.

Gifts are typically purchased for no special occasion but dogs, cats, birds and small animals are more likely to also receive a gift for Christmas, according to the survey.

In addition, 9 percent of dog owners and 4 percent of cat owners have held a holiday or birthday party for their pet.

Upon the death of their pet, two to four out of 10 owners (with the exception of equines) would buy something to either memorialize or bury their pet.
About 18 percent of dog owners, 12 percent of cat owners, 6 percent of bird owners and 3 percent each of small animal and reptile owners would buy an urn. Less than 4 percent of pet owners would purchase a headstone.

Almost all equine owners reported they would do something to memorialize their pet, usually have their horse buried at a farm, according to the survey.

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Pet Industry Spending Tops $48 Billion in 2010

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