Thursday, July 19, 2007

Keeping up with the Joneses dog

If you want your dog to keep up with the Joneses dog, you should know they're spending $107 a year on his treats and toys. And that chunk of change is just a drop in the pet spending bucket, according to information from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. In 2007, U.S. pet expenditures are expected to top $40.8 billion (that's up from $38.5 billion in 2006, and $17 billion in 1994). The big bucks trend is fueled by baby boomers who increasingly "humanize" their pets, says Bob Vetere, president of the Greenwich, Conn.-based pet products association. They'll buy something that they find meaningful, such as a pricey designer collar, rather than gift their pet with something like a used tennis ball. This year's expenditures will include $16.1 billion for food, $9.8 billion for veterinary care, $9.9 billion for supplies and over-the-counter medicine, $2.1 billion for live animal purchases and $2.9 billion for pet services, including grooming and boarding. More folks than ever own pets, too. Nowadays, 71.1 million U.S. households, up from 51 million households in 1988, own at least one pet. "I think one of the bigger `surprises' has to be the way baby boomers are continuing to own pets," Vetere says. "Historically, pet ownership drops off dramatically as people reach age 60 and beyond. ... Boomers are actually looking at pets as replacements for the kids who have moved out." And the top dogs among those pets aren't dogs, they're freshwater fish, which number 142 million. There are also 88.3 million cats, 74.8 million dogs, 24.3 million small animals, 16 million birds, 13.8 million horses, 13.4 million reptiles and 9.6 million saltwater fish. Other survey tidbits include: The average age and sex of the person buying pet products is a 46-year-old female. Thirty percent of dog owners buy dental products for their dog, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, tartar/breath control/whitening products or floss. Twenty-six percent of dogs (up from 18 percent in 2004) have their own bed. Fifteen-percent of dog owners and 11-percent of cat owners purchased an urn for their pet's ashes in 2006. More than 50-percent of pet owners purchased a gift for their pets in the past 12 months. Christmas topped the list of popular gift-giving holidays, but Halloween, Valentine's Day and Hanukkah are popular, too. Dog owners buy up to seven gifts per year, while owners of other pets purchase about four gifts per year. Regardless of species, more than $10 is spent on each gift. Salt-water fish owners spend $71 a year on decorations. Oh, by the way, speaking of spending money on your pets: ...

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