Americans spent $72 billion on their pets in 2018

When it comes to their pets, Americans can’t stop spending.

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) released their annual report on pet spending this month, and it shows that Americans spent a record-breaking $72.56 billion in 2018. That’s an increase of more than $3 billion over 2017, when they spent a then-record-breaking $69.51 billion. And that’s an increase of almost $3 billion over 2016, when they spent a then-record-breaking $66.75 billion. . . .

Do you see a pattern here?

To put it in context, two decades prior to 2016, in 1996, Americans spent a relatively paltry $21 billion on their pets.

The 2018 spending figure covers money spent on food, supplies, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, veterinary care, live-animal purchases, and other services. APPA President and CEO Bob Vetere said that the data reflects the fact that millennials continue to be the largest pet-owning demographic: “We know this generation is willing to pay more for quality products and services to improve the health and wellbeing of their pets.” Today, more than ever, pet owners in all demographics view their pets as irreplaceable family members, and Vetere notes that that’s the reason we continual to see “such incredible growth” in all aspects of the pet care industry.

Follow the money

As in previous years, Americans are spending the biggest portion of their pet care dollars on pet food ($29.07 billion), with premium dog food being the most popular purchase, followed by generic and natural pet food. The report notes that rising prices and sales of higher-priced, high-quality food may account for the ongoing growth in this category. Sales of natural, locally sourced treats and chews experienced a significant jump.

Where’s my share?

Veterinary care continues to remain the second-highest category of spending ($18.11 billion) and continues to lead all categories in terms of growth at a rate of 6.1%. The report attributes that, in part, to lower prices that made veterinary care more accessible to more pet owners.

All that other stuff

Supplies and OTC medications continue to hold steady as the third-highest source of pet spending ($15.11 billion). Up 6% over 2017, that includes money spent on items such as beds, leashes, toys, and pet-tech products in addition to OTC medications and supplements.

The report notes that pet owners (especially millennials) are more likely to use digital devices and technology than non-pet owners, which explains the explosive growth in the pet-tech subcategory.

$72 billion is a lot of money. What do you want to bet that Americans will spend even more this year?

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