Americans’ pet addiction has been skyrocketing by the billions for nearly two decades, with early estimates saying U.S. spending statistics on pet food, gear, and vet visits could reach over $69 billion this year, according the American Pet Products Association (APPA).
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And a majority of the cash—around $28.3 billion (according to 2016 numbers)— is going straight to the pet food industry. But pet owners aren’t just looking to buy any ole pet food either.
According to new research from GlobalData last month, half of all pet owners are opting for more “clean eating” options, forcing many companies to scurry to produce more and more premium food options.
Last month, supermodel Christie Brinkley told FOX Business that Nestle, who owns about 10% of the pet food market share with its Purina food brand, approached her to be a spokesperson for its new dog and cat food line formulated to help aging animals.
“Just like it’s important for us to give our families good nutrition, our pets are like members of our family, too,” Brinkley, the owner of two dogs, Maple Sugar and Chester, said.
But it’s not just food, another hefty expense is vet care. According to a survey, conducted by APPA in 2016, the average dog owner spends $551 a year on surgical vet visits as well an additional $235 a year on routine check-up visits. Other yearly expenses include kennel boarding ($333), grooming ($83), vitamins ($62), and toys ($47).
Today 68% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to roughly 84.6 million homes. That number is up from a 1998 survey that found only 56% of households owned one.
Additionally, the pet craze—particularly with dogs seems to go much deeper than just spending cash. A recent survey out this week from SunTrust Mortgages found that dogs are becoming one of the biggest factors in whether millennials buy a home or not.
SunTrust found tthat one-third (33%) of millennials (ages 18 to 36) who purchased their first home, did so because it had a yard and better space for their dog. That percentage then dropped off slightly at 25% for marriage and even less for kids at 19%.
"Millennials have strong bonds with their dogs, so it makes sense that their furry family members are driving home-buying decisions," Dorinda Smith, SunTrust Mortgage President and CEO said.
And to take it one step further, a new survey from PetSmart Charities, found that 66% of Americans say that adopting a pet would make them happier “in the long run” than winning the lottery and 64% of them said giving up their pet would be worse than losing their job.