The American Pet Products Association's annual pet industry spending and data report found that pet industry spending grew by 5.3 percent to an all-time high of US$50.96 billion in 2011.

The American Pet Products Association projects a 3.8 percent growth rate through 2012 and US$53 billion in overall pet spending, driven by new, innovative products including petfood, pet supplies and over-the-counter medications, veterinary care, live animal purchases and other pet services.

Pet services, like grooming, boarding, pet sitting and others, experienced the largest growth, rising 7.9 percent from 2010 to US$3.79 billion in 2011. The report projects pet services will grow by 8.4 percent in 2012 to US$4.11 billion in spending. Petfood spending had a slower, but steady increase in 2011, rising 5.8 percent to US$19.85 billion, and is projected to rise 3.1 percent to US$20.46 billion in 2012. Spending on pet supplies and over-the-counter medications also grew in 2011, up 7.6 percent from 2010 to US$11.7 billion in 2011.

According to the association's president, Bob Vetere, two reasons for the slower growth in petfood sales are that pet sales and adoptions are flattening, and most consumers have already been drawn to high-end petfoods so the segment is reverting back to a more traditional growth pattern.

"As the total pet population continues to grow, despite a slower pace, we still see the overall industry expanding year after year," Vetere said. "As pet owners continue to pamper pets and treat them like members of the family, we see positive growth and a response to consumer demand for more products and services which we expect to see through 2012.”