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The Big Business of Pet Care

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Does it seem like pet owners are spending more than ever on their four-legged companions? Well, it’s true. And a look at the actual numbers are pretty staggering.

In 1995, US Pet Owners spent approximately 19 billion dollars on pet care. Fast-forward a mere 20 years and that number triples to 60 billion dollars! Expenditures include food, supplies, vet care and services such as grooming and boarding. Even more amazingly, this growth didn’t slow a bit during the recent recession.

So what’s driving this growth and how can marketers take advantage of it?

For starters, the megatrend of “pet parenting” or the practice of rewarding or caring for pets in human terms. Simply put, our pets have become a true part of the family. As such, demand has skyrocketed for items such as specialized diets, gourmet treats and health supplements. Demand has also increased for services such as dog walking, training, pet therapy sessions, full service doggie hotels and more.

So where will future growth come from? And where are the opportunities for marketers? Here are five categories that show the greatest promise for continued product innovation.


  1. Specialty Foods. Much like human diets (gluten free, low carb, etc.) our pet’s diets have become increasingly specialized. And with greater specialization comes a higher price point. Senior diets, dental care or diabetic control are just some of the many examples.

  2. Made in USA/Organic. With recent recalls of Chinese pet food, consumers are more than ever looking for the safety and regulation of domestically produced food. Echoing the human food industry, organic foods are the choice for owners looking for every perceived health advantage for their pets.

  3. Pet Fashion. Be-dazzled collars. Hand knit sweaters. Accessories of all descriptions. This trend plays off of the insight that pets are seen as an extension of their owner’s style and personality.

  4. Smart pet doors, smart feeders, health monitors, GPS tracking. There’s even a device that will play catch with your dog. If technology can make an owners life easier or provide valuable piece of mind it seems virtually no price tag is too high.

  5. As a direct reflection of the trend that our pets have become a true part of the family, pet healthcare may have more potential than any of the aforementioned categories. Specific opportunities for growth and innovation exist in vet specialty care, holistic wellness programs, pharmaceuticals, senior care, hospice and insurance.



Can the pet care industry sustain this growth? What’s the limit on what consumers will spend on their pets? With the joy and companionship that pets bring to our lives whatever it is will be worth it!

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