How do you define family? If you’re a pet owner, you’re likely to use the term “family” to include more than just blood relatives in your own species. In fact, people treat their furry and feathered companions more like family members than ever, pampering them with treats, gifts, toys—even home-cooked meals.
Just how deep are our ties with our pets? According to a recent Nielsen survey conducted by Harris Poll, 95% of U.S. pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family. And in looking at how much we spend on our pets, it’s clear that U.S. consumers are sparing no expense when it comes to their “families.”
Today, 62% of Americans have at least one pet in their household, so it’s easy to see how we spent $19.7 billion on pet care last year alone. Who’s spending the most? In terms of pet ownership, two generations take the kibble: Millennials (65% own pets) and Gen X (71% own pets).
When it comes to which types of pets are in today’s households, dogs sit pretty on top: 71% of pet owners say they have at least one dog; half (49%) have cats; one in 10 have fish (11%); and less than one in 10 have a bird (8%) or some other type of pet (9%).
And to keep their pets happy at mealtime, Americans shell out big bucks, making pet food a thriving, multi-billion dollar industry.
And we like to keep our pets bellies’ full round the clock. In fact, Americans spend $2.6 billion of the more than $9 billion spent on dog food annually purely on dog treats. But we’re not just rewarding dogs for good behavior. We also spend $476 million on cat treats.
But we do more than just pamper our faithful companions with food. Forty-five percent of owners buy birthday presents for their pets, and 64% buy them gifts on holidays. While Gen Xers own the most pets, Millennials are the most likely to buy birthday presents for their pets: 54% of Millennials give birthday gifts, compared with 40% Gen X, 42% Baby Boomers and 27% Matures (69+). Millennials are also most likely to dress their pets in clothing.
So when it comes to birthdays and holidays, what are we gifting to our pets? Toys of all kinds are hot sellers. U.S. consumers spent $389 million on pet toys alone last year, with $32 million being spent on chew toys and $8 million on pet ropes.
Just like we do with our other family members, we’re quick to jump into action when our pets aren’t feeling well. And that level of care doesn’t come cheap. We spend $389 million on medicine, $19.2 million on pet treatments, $2.4 million on pet repellent and $379.1 million on flea and tick products.
But when our pets are well, we definitely want them looking their best. Americans spend $166 million each year on pet grooming and $11 million on new brushes.
Whether furry, feathered or finned, pets in the U.S. continue to develop close relationships with their owners, and Americans are going to great lengths to ensure that they really do have it all.
For local insights into our love for our pets, click here to read Hometown Pampered Pets.
The insights in this article were derived from the following sources:
- An English-language survey conducted by the Harris Poll of 2,205 U.S. adults, 1,323 of whom have at least one pet, surveyed online between May 20 and 26, 2015.
- Nielsen Answers data July31, 2015.