Americans' Spending Proves Love Of Pets

With 62% of Americans having at least one pet in their household, it’s easy to see how U.S. spending on pet care is approaching $20 billion.

According to a recent Nielsen survey conducted by Harris Poll, 95% of U.S. pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family. Two generations are spending the most: Millennials (65% own pets) and Gen X (71% own pets), according to the poll, which surveyed 2,205 U.S. adults, 1,323 of whom have at least one pet, online May 20-26.

When it comes to which types of pets are in households, 71% of pet owners say they have at least one dog; half (49%) have cats; one in 10 have fish (11%); and less than one in 10 have a bird (8%) or some other type of pet (9%).

Americans spend $2.6 billion of the more than $9 billion spent on dog food annually purely on dog treats. Cat treat spending totaled $476 million, according to the Harris Poll.



Similarly, market research publisher Packaged Facts estimates that total U.S. retail sales of pet treats exceeded $5 billion in 2014, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% during the 2010-2014 period. Sales growth in the treat market has consistently outpaced that of the more mature pet food market and pet supplies in general.

Growth in the pet treat market was accomplished even in the face of greater scrutiny by U.S. pet owners due to ongoing concerns regarding the safety of Chinese-manufactured pet treats and concerns about potential contamination of pet products produced stateside, according to Packaged Facts. Sales growth in the treat market moderated in 2012 and 2013 after a wave of recalls, but quickly rebounded as the treat market overall saw an increase of almost 6% in 2014. The shift toward human-grade pet products has been a factor in sustaining the treat market’s upward momentum.

Forty-five percent of owners buy birthday presents for their pets, and 64% buy them gifts on holidays, according to the Harris Poll. While Gen Xers own the most pets, Millennials are the most likely to buy birthday presents for their pets: 54% of Millennials give birthday gifts, compared with 40% Gen X, 42% Baby Boomers and 27% Matures (69+). Millennials are also most likely to dress their pets in clothing.

U.S. consumers spent $389 million on pet toys alone last year, with $32 million being spent on chew toys and $8 million on pet ropes. Americans spend $166 million each year on pet grooming and $11 million on new brushes.

Veterinary care is also a big ticket item. Americans spend $389 million on medicine, $19.2 million on pet treatments, $2.4 million on pet repellent and $379.1 million on flea and tick products.

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