US pet owners spent most ever on pets in 2017

Spending on pet food continues to be the highest source of dollars spent, with spending on dog food specifically making up a majority of sales.

Photo by shymar27, Bigstock.com
Photo by shymar27, Bigstock.com

In 2017, pet owners in the United States spent more on their dogs, cats, birds and other creatures than ever before, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Consumers spent US$69.51 billion in 2017, said Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the APPA at Global Pet Expo, an annual pet products trade show presented by APPA and the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA). 

The 2017 pet industry spending numbers surpass the previous year's by nearly three billion dollars (US$66.75 billion spent in 2016), a 4 percent growth. APPA's annual comprehensive industry figures report covers pet spending in the market categories of food, supplies/over-the-counter (OTC) medications, veterinary care, live animal purchases and other services.  

Spending on pet food continues to be the highest source of dollars spent, with spending on dog food specifically making up a majority of sales.  Interest in high end, premium pet food and treats continues to be a key driver for increased spending in the pet food category, but as owners increasingly value shop for these items, total food spending growth continues to slow down.  

"It's incredible to not only see growth for the pet industry in general, but to experience growth across all categories- with the exception of 'live animal purchases' which remained the same," said Vetere in a press release. "Talk to any pet owner and they'll tell you how difficult it is to put a dollar limit on what they'd spend to give their loyal companion a happy life, and it's this outlook that continues to drive growth."

Spending on other pet sectors in 2017

Veterinary care spending remains the second highest source of spending in the pet industry at US$17.07 billion, up 7 percent from 2016. A 6.9 percent growth is anticipated in 2018, exceeding growth estimates for any other category, putting veterinary care spending at over US$18 billion by the end of the year.

The third highest source of spending is in supplies and over the counter (OTC) medications. US$15.11 billion was spent on items such as beds, collars, leashes, toys, travel items, clothing, food and water bowls, and other accessories in 2017. The use of pet medications and supplements to ensure longer, healthier lives for pets is increasing thus somewhat offsetting any lower income for veterinary services. 

Pet technology products are also extremely popular in terms of product innovation for pets, but not yet a big market share in terms of sales, although it is growing.

The category that saw one of the highest growth percentages this past year was other services, which includes pet services outside of healthcare such as grooming, boarding, walking, training, pet sitting, yard services and more. Coming in at US$6.16 billion in 2017- up 6.9 percent from 2016- spending on pet services continues to be an exciting and promising segment of the industry.   

Live animal purchases, for the first time in four years, has not declined, but rather remained steady at US$2.1 billion spent.

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