As evidenced by media coverage, some pet owners clearly are challenged to feed their pets, and in severe cases such as loss of a home, have even had to put them up for adoption.
However, the 2008 Goodlife brand survey, conducted in June and based on responses from 1,032 dog and cat owners age 25 or older from a national database of pet owners (margin of error: plus or minus 3%), found that four out of five agreed that skimping on pet food would not be their first cost-cutting move if the budget is tight.
Two-thirds said they still don't consider cost to be the deciding factor when it comes to selecting pet food, and nearly 60% said that natural ingredients are most important in their pet food purchases. (One-third agreed that their personal health habits influence what they feed their pets).
This ties in with Packaged Facts' estimate that sales of natural pet products through all channels jumped 41% last year, to reach $1.3 billion. That growth was driven in part by the Spring 2007 pet food recalls; however, PF projects double-digit annual percentage gains for the natural pet food segment though 2012 in its new report, "Natural Supermarket Pet Department Close-Up: Multi-category Sales, Brand Share, Retailer and Consumer Trends."
Going beyond food, one in four pet owners in the Goodlife survey claimed that they wouldn't cut anything from their pet's lives, even if money is tight. And two out of four still said they planned to spend between $25 and $100 on holiday gifts for their pets.
The 75% who would cut pet expenses said that grooming would be the first to go. Half said that they would not reduce spending on vet visits, any more than they would cut back on doctor/dentist health-maintenance visits for their families.