US Pet Industry Continues to Grow...and Grow... and Grow!

Group of animals posed together- dog, cat, parrot, rabbit
Humans are adopting more animals of all kinds than ever before, but now for companionship and friendship, much different than decades ago.

If you’re considering adding a pet to your home in 2015, you’re in very good company. As many as 71.4 million homes are expected to include a pet in 2015. According to the American Pet Product Association, pet families have increased from 56% of households in 1988 to 62% this year.

This, of course, translates into increases in the percentage of our budgets that are spent on animals. The upward trend in spending is being fueled not only by the increasing number of pets, but also by the increasing amount of pampering we are showering on our animals.

In your grandmother’s day, a dog was likely kept on the premises to guard the property or to assist in hunting, herding, or some other job. Dogs were fed table scraps or left to fend for themselves by ridding the home and barn of vermin.


Dog fetching duck for his owner.
Decades ago, dogs were kept mainly to help hunt, heard farm animals and played a real working role in a family.

Today, dogs are held in such high esteem, many consider them on par with their human children. Considered in that light, it’s not surprising we’re willing to dip into our wallets to provide them every advantage and comfort.

As we learn more about the health benefits of having a pet around, many of us are loosening our purse strings to improve the lives of our pets in return. Walking your dog has obvious health benefits, and it has been proven that having any animal in your home can lower your stress level as well as your blood pressure.

As the US population ages, these health benefits become even more important. And a pet can provide an important emotional lift to those baby boomers who are now struggling with empty nest syndrome.



Dog cuddling on man's shoulder
Today, dogs have proven to save human lives and to build indisputable emotional bonds with their ownsers.

Let’s not forget those who live alone, whether by choice, through divorce, or as the result of illness claiming a beloved partner too soon.

Replacing that emptiness with a pet has been proven to uplift spirits.

It can be a reason to get up every morning and to get out of the house to socialize – at dog parks, doggie daycares, and dog-friendly business establishments.






Horse, fish, cat, hamster, lizard group image
Who are our best non-human friends?

Number of U.S. Households that Own a Pet (millions)

Bird 6.9
Cat 45.3
Dog 56.7
Horse 2.8
Freshwater Fish 14.3
Saltwater Fish 1.8
Reptile 5.6
Small Animal 6.9


As you can see, dogs dominate, but cats are not that far behind. As reported at the top of this article, 71.5 million households are expected to include a pet in 2015. However, if you add up all of the households in the chart above, the total is over 140 million, which means that many pet households include two or more pets.



The size of the market

Graph showing increase in market share
Growth over the past few years

In 2014, it’s estimated we spent over $58.5 billion – yes, that’s billion with a “b” – on our pets, up from 17 billion just 20 years ago. Just under 40% of this is for food, while about 25% goes for vet care. That leaves 35% – over $20 billion! – for supplies and services.

As the economy has improved over the last four or five years, Americans have been able to find more disposable income, and much of that income is going for luxury items for our animals. Even those whom the economic recovery has not yet reached are still willing to shell out big bucks for their four-legged family members.

Annual revenue growth is expected to top 4.4% through 2016, growth which will be unmatched in many other sectors of the economy.

Small dog surrounded by pet glitz and glamour accessories
Oh, how we pampor and cave to those "puppy eyes". They know just how to work us! :)

From health-related products like shampoo, specialty foods, and medical care, to the merely frivolous items like designer clothing and bejeweled accessories, products for our pets are flying off of store shelves.

Honestly, what self-respecting dog can be expected to survive without automated food and water dispensers, a designer dog bed, or a monogrammed sweater?

The pet service industry cannot be discounted. You can get a facial (blueberry-flavored, no less) for your dog, as well as a complete mani-pedi.

It’s no longer enough to simply trim your dog’s nails at home; the modern dog requires polish and pampering.

And it’s no longer good enough to leave your dog at home on the couch while you work. You have to start early to get your dog into the best doggie daycares money can buy.


Where’s the best place to invest?

If you’re looking to invest in a pet-related business, here’s what experts say will be the best places to put your money:

  • Daytime care: walking, pet sitting, adventure camps, playcare
  • Training: encourage good behavior with obedience training or prepare dogs for competitions like agility or conformance
  • Boarding: traditional cages or frou-frou programs designed to make your dog enjoy vacation time as much as you do
  • Supplies: basic, designer, and out-of-this world categories
  • Pet food: gourmet and organic are up-and-coming opportunities, and delivery services are coveted by the overly busy
  • Grooming: basic bathing and clipping, as well as fancier services like specialty coloring, facials, and manicures. Don’t forget the do-it-yourself market, where you provide the facility and the dog’s family does the work.
  • Waste removal: Probably the worst part of sharing your home with a dog is cleaning up after him. Why not hire a service to take care of this project on a scheduled basis?
  • Opportunities abound for those who would serve pet families in this country. All that’s required is start-up cash, creativity, and a belief that people who have pets in their home and money in their wallets are ready to spend, spend, and spend some more!



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