Consumer spending on pets is at record levels

By glblguy


According to Pet Age magazine, total pet spending was 41.2 billion dollars in 2007 up from 38.4 billion in 2006. The American Pet Products Manufacturers (APPMA) predicts a 5.6 percent increase over 2007 spending for 2008 resulting in a prediction of $43.4 billion.

Attributing to this grow is a combination of things including:

  • More baby boomer’s owning pets and treating them like members of the family and showing their appreciation to their pets.
  • Increased spending overall on pet insurance. According to the APPMA, more than 2 million pet owners have pet insurance, and by 2010 5-7% of overall pet owners are expected to have it.
  • Increased expenditures on high-end grooming services such as doggie day cares, pet spas, and pet hotels and other luxury pet services becoming available.

Here is a more detailed breakdown comparing 2007 sales and 2008 projected sales:

2007 Actual
2008 Projected
$16.2 billion
$16.9 billion
Veterinary care
$10.1 billion
$10.9 billion
Supplies/OTC Medicine
$9.8 billion
$10.3 billion
Other services
$3 billion
$3.2 billion
Live animals
$2.1 billion
$2.1 billion
$41.2 billion
$43.4 billion

Controlling Pet Spending

Here are a few tips you can put in place to place a little control around that extra spending for ol’Fido:

  • Don’t make impulse decisions – Avoid succumbing to all of those impulse items close to the register at the local pet store. When visiting the pet store, come with a list of items needed just as you would when you visit the grocery store. Stick to your list. Pet toys and treats are expensive and are often unnecessary.
  • Budget for your pet – If you have a pet, add line items in your budget for your pets expenses. Include food, vet bills, grooming supplies, and medication. From a budget perspective, treat your pet like you would any other member of the family.
  • Have a pet emergency fund – Unexpected pet medical expenses can really put a dent in your wallet. If you have a pet that could incur expensive medical bills, establish a pet emergency fund. I know with our dog some years back, we ended up having to pay close to $1000.00 when she was diagnosed with a rare disease. Foolishly, we put in on a credit card. Now I know better.

A few tips to reduce your pet spending

  • Wash your own pet – Avoid paying the high prices for pet grooming. Instead bath and brush your pet yourself. With basic grooming costs starting around $50.00, a bath at home with some high quality pet shampoo can really save you some hard earned cash.
  • Utilize local clinics – Many large pet stores, animal shelters and other community service providers offer low cost spay/neuter clinics. You can find information and locations by visiting Low cost vaccine clinics are also available and can save you a considerable amount of money.
  • Buy supplies in bulk – Purchase food, cat litter, bedding, etc. in bulk. The larger you buy, the move savings you’ll receive. Many discount Pet Store chains offer larger sizes than available in the local grocery store.
  • Keep up with preventative car – Spending a little money every so often for preventative car for your pets can save you a great deal of wallet pain and heart ache down the road. According to veterinarians, many pet diseases can be avoided through routine check-ups and preventative medication. Many of these same diseases become very hard to treat effectively when in advanced stages. Vets also recommend checking your pet monthly for skin problems, lumps, discharge or redness.

How do you avoid spending too much on your pets? Share your tips and suggestions, add a comment!

18 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Consumer spending on pets is at record levels”

  1. Rachel @ Master Your Card Says:

    It seems strange that people seem to be spending less on themselves and more on their pets! Perhaps I should start selling pet luxuries as a way of making money through the recession!

  2. CindyS Says:

    Now this is a great article. :) They tell me that the pet care business is pretty recession proof. I sure hope so. As long as too many people don’t follow your advice and start grooming their own pet I should do ok.

  3. Greener Pastures Says:

    Great reminder on ways you can save with your pets.
    I’m from the “Dogs are Human” Camp.
    I love my two dogs like they were my children! They take glucosamine, have special food for their teeth,etec etc….they get the royal treatment- but I bargain shop for them like I do for myself.


  4. Kristen Says:

    Great article. It is really easy to go overboard spending on pets. When I adopted my cat from the Humane Society two years ago, I seriously under estimated how much a kitten could cost. He got sick twice within the first three months that I owned him. In addition to the traditional vet care and set up costs, I ended up spending much more than I anticipated on emergency vet care and medicine. My mother used to refer to him as, “the money pit.”

    I’m happy to report that he is now a very healthy adult, and the cost of caring for him has dropped drastically. Still, you are very right about having a pet emergency fund. I think people getting new kittens or puppies should plan on spending more than they estimate, just in case …

  5. Twinsmom Says:

    I save with my kitties several ways. First is by keeping them inside. This is not only a safety issue, but it also greatly reduces the chances of them picking up diseases and fleas from other animals and nearly eliminates the chance of a major accidental injury, thereby reducing vet visits. Second, we measure what we feed them (we have 3), half-cup of dry food per cat. They can still graze throughout the day, but we are not overfeeding them. This not only saves on the food bill, but also helps keep down vet bills as they have less chance of overeating, becoming overweight and developing diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and other lifestyle-related problems. Third, we feed only dry food. Canned food is expensive. Plus, in our case, we have one cat with a rare skin condition and one cat with ear problems, both of which are aggravated with canned or even pouches of moist food. So we save on food costs but also vet bills by eliminating a trigger for these two problems.

  6. David Carter Says:

    Pets are expensive period.

    A tip I could give to save money on food is to go to your local grocery store and ask the meat dept if they have any extra meat trimmings. Maybe even call in early and ask them to hold it for you b/c they throw the stuff away eventually. Its free! Most of your pets are supposed to eat raw meat anyway, so its a lot healthier for them. But what they give you is mainly fat, so that might actually be bad for them I’m not sure. You won’t be able to do this at your local walmart b/c all their meat comes in prepackaged, you’ll prolly have to go to a nicer grocery store like a haris teeter or something, they all seem to be switching over to prepackaged food though.

  7. Curt Says:

    I have a line item for by dog in my budget and it has run about $500 per year for 6 years. The biggest increase has been in veterinary care.

    Now, their is also research that shows pets increase health by increasing exercise and reducing depression. My guess is that me family health increase is worth more then $500 per year that my dog costs me – so I’m money ahead.

  8. debtdieter Says:

    My cat is definitely part of the family, but his needs are also part of my monthly budget. He eats more name brand food than I do though! :-)

  9. castocreations Says:

    Interesting. I’ve never really thought about exactly how much we spend on our three big dogs. Once I put it all in writing it is VERY eye opening. We spend a LOT!

    I linked wrote it up on my blog and linked back to you.

    I disagree about saving on vet/vaccines though. That’s one area where I’m not taking any chances. :)

    We do buy bulk and order several containers of their food to get a small discount but we feed very expensive food to our dogs. We are thinking about cutting our insurance and just saving the money on our own in ING.

    Great article! :)

  10. Financial Learn Says:

    Pets are expensive but I find it is worth it. We care for them so much because they are a part of the family. I like the pet emergency fund idea, or even a plain old emergency fund for anything that comes up.

  11. Make Friends, Earn Money Says:

    I’ve notied this year that our pet insurance has doubled in just one year and was told that this was due to rising vets fees, so your post is absolutely spot on. Buying supplies in bulk is a great tip and we now do this with dog food because it saves money in the long term.

  12. Zee Says:

    Great post! I’m with castocreations: I won’t take chances by going to a “low-cost” vet/clinic. I just don’t trust them. My vet costs a bit more but I trust him completely and he’s excellent at what he does, which to me is worth the extra $$.

    I also have veterinary pet insurance: I pay less than $15 per month for a basic insurance plan plus a cancer treatment “rider.” I know a lot of people don’t like pet insurance because it doesn’t cover everything fully, and sometimes costs an awful lot, but I think about it as a way to stretch my money a little further: if I saved that $180 a year, it wouldn’t get me much in the way of treatment, but the insurance will let me buy more treatment for her than if I didn’t have it. I also budget for my dog monthly and put money aside for vet bills and unexpected costs, the way I do for myself, because the pet insurance works in a “pay out of pocket, get reimbursed” model, and I’m not willing to keep a credit card on hand. That’s what the emergency fund is for! :)

    It also seems to function as “Murphy Repellant”: since I’ve had the insurance, my dog hasn’t had any major health problems (touch wood!)… that is definitely worth $180 bux a year! :-D

    That said, the “isn’t that cute/must have it for the pooch” syndrome can be an expensive one: best defense for me is just to stay out of the stores in the first place and to go in with a specific list when I do go there.

    I’ve also cut back on the number of rawhide bones I give my dog, because the kind she likes (Dingo brand) are so crazy expensive: I still give her a couple a week, because she loves them and they keep her teeth cleaner than I can get them with a toothbrush. (I’ve had her four years and have never needed to have her teeth cleaned! Big expense in and of itself!) I also do all my own grooming: baths, haircuts, toenails, daily brushing and etc. Saves a bundle, especially considering she’s a Yorkie, and she enjoys the extra attention.

    I definitely think there’s a line to be drawn, but I don’t have kids so she’s my companion and friend and I’d pretty much do anything for her… (except go into debt!)

  13. Aaron Stroud Says:

    If anyone needed convincing that our economy is doing just fine, these statistics should do the trick. I even have neighbors who run an organic petfood shop!

    As far as pets go, we just have the one dog, but we’ll be adding to the family in a couple of years when the time is right. Pets are expensive even if you pass on the pricey foods.

  14. Shayne Spalla Says:

    If only everyone loved kittens to the extent we all do. Maybe you have heard concerning the Epa and flea control drops? It’ pretty unsettling just what some of these items are doing to our pets. Unsettling: Flea Control Products Killing Pets