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Does the term “fur baby” resonate with you? If so, then it should come as no surprise that pet parents are spending increasingly more money on pet care.

Even if “fur baby” is not a term of endearment that you bestow upon your pet, chances are good that you have made a serious and significant financial investment in your pet.

Many of us consider our pets to be bona fide members of our families. Our pets’ health and well-being are often just as important as our own health and wellness, and we’ve shown that through what we spend to keep them happy and healthy.

The Dollars and Cents of Pet Health

The American Pet Products Association (APPA), which promotes responsible pet care, conducts consumer research and reports information on pet ownership rates, pet care trends, and what pet parents spend on animal care.

From 1994 to 2017, the amount we spent on our pets increased by 400 percent, from $17 billion to nearly $70 billion; that number is expected to keep rising.

According to the APPA, in 2017, the most recent year for which data are available, pet parents spent $29 billion on food, $17 billion on veterinary care, and $15 billion on pet supplies and over-the-counter medicine.

In 2018, the financial company TD Ameritrade surveyed 1,139 millennials to learn more about how they feel about their pets and how much money they spend on pet care. Here are key findings from that survey:

  • Millennials spend an average of $1,285 per year on their dogs and $915 per year on their cats.

  • 68 percent of millennials would take leave from work to care for a new pet if their employers allowed it.

  • Millennials generally expect to spend more on their pet’s health care than on their own.

  • 67 percent of millennials refer to their pets as “fur babies.”

Amazingly, spending on pet care appears to even be recession-proof. Data collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that, during the Great Recession of the late 2000s, pet care spending managed to hold steady, despite the heavy financial toll that many Americans suffered during that time.

What’s My Take?

My goal for mentioning these studies was not to bore with you a bunch of data and statistics. Rather, I wanted to highlight these studies to show that pet parents are invested in taking care of their beloved animals.

Of course, pet parents spend on more than just the necessities of pet care. Some pet parents might splurge on outfits for their pet (doggy bikinis, anyone?) or treat their dog to a stay at a luxurious dog boarding house. Other pet parents might gladly spend money on a pet psychic (not my personal choice, but to each their own).

So, even though pet parents may occasionally indulge their pets simply because they can, I truly believe that they are also more committed to providing top-notch pet care. If you see your pet as a member of your family, you will care about them deeply and will likely be willing to spend more to ensure that they are properly cared for.

A discussion on pet health spending would be incomplete without at least a mention of pet insurance. There is no getting around the fact that our pets can be quite expensive to care for; a routine trip to the veterinary office can easily cost $100 or more. Pet insurance can be an excellent way to offset the high costs of caring for our pets throughout their lifetimes.

Overall, I am encouraged by the increasing levels of care that pet parents show toward their pets. You might want to hold off on ordering that doggy bathing suit, though.

By: JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

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