Adventures in Pet Food

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry, shares her insights and opinions on all things pet food, addressing market trends as well as news and developments in pet nutrition, food safety and other hot topics for the industry.

Thank goodness for humanization of pets

Observing the buzz at SuperZoo last week and hearing about its growth over last year's show, I kept thinking (and even remarked to a few people), "Thank goodness for pet humanization!" This engine that has been driving the continued growth of our industry is still humming along. Perhaps it's dipped below full throttle occasionally during the last several tough economic years, but according to a new survey, it's keeping our industry on an upward journey.


The survey comes from what seems an unlikely source --, an online for all sorts of coupons, not just petfood products -- yet offers some very welcome news: 68% of US dog owners surveyed said economic challenges are not affecting their dog care spending. Further, 21% of respondents spend an average of US$100 or more per month on their dogs.


According to, the survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive in August -- certainly not a bellweather month for the US economy -- among 2,212 US adults and was released now to celebrate National Dog Week, September 19-25.



(In another odd pairing, National Dog Week is sponsored by the Dogs on Stamps Study Unit of the American Topical Association, according to I found a Cats on Stamps Study Unit on the ATA site but not one for dogs. The site mentioned on,, is definitely not about dogs on stamps.)


The survey also found that these dogs owners consider veterinary visits their highest dog-related expense, with 57% of respondents choosing it, followed by dog food at 16%, prescriptions and medications at 15% and boarding at 6%. That food came in a distant second (and barely ahead of other health-related expenses) is a good sign for our industry, I believe -- in addition to the fact that for most pet parents, a sour economy will not stop them from caring for their pets like human family members.



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