Spring 2010 Magazine

Pet Industry Trends for 2010

By Nancy Marano

Each year the American Pet Products Association publishes the National Pet Owners Survey. This provides statistics on pet ownership and spending as well as trends for the pet industry. The 2009/2010 edition is available now and has some interesting things to say about how the nation treats pets.

The total number of pets owned in the U.S. in millions.

Bird 15.0
Cat 93.6
Dog 77.5
Equine 13.3
Freshwater Fish 171.7
Saltwater Fish 11.2
Reptile 13.6
Small Animal 15.9

Cats are still the number one pet at 93.6 million. However, more households own dogs. Cats are owned by 38.2 million households while dogs are in 45.6 million households. Apparently cat owners tend to have more than one cat while dog owners don't.

Spending on pets in 2009 was at $45.5 billion dollars. Estimated spending for 2010 will be $47.7 billion dollars. The largest share of this, $18.28 billion will be spent on food followed by $12.79 billion for vet care and $11 billion for supplies and over-the-counter medicine. The remainder is for live animal purchases and pet services such as grooming and boarding.

The basic cost for owning a dog is slightly higher than for a cat. Costs for dogs generally run $20-$40 more annually for each category of food, boarding, routine veterinary and surgical veterinary visits, groomer/grooming aids, vitamins, food treats and toys.

What are the pet industry trends to watch for?

The status of pets in the family continues to rise and with it comes a desire for owners to learn more about their pets and how to care for them.

As people become more conscious of living an eco-friendly lifestyle, they want the same type of lifestyle for the pets. Earth-friendly pet products from natural litter and organic food options to eco-friendly toys and accessories are gaining in popularity.

The retailing of pet products also is expanding. More and more establishments from pet boutiques or PetSmart to big-box stores like Wal-Mart or Home Depot sell pet supplies. Even companies better known for human products like Paul Mitchell or Old Navy are offering pet products from dog shampoo to pet attire, or gourmet pet treats and food.

More people want to take their pets with them on vacations or just to run errands. This has sparked greater interest in dog-friendly cars, pet airlines, and pet-friendly hotels and restaurants. Hotels may even supply check-in gift baskets that include pet treats, a toy and an ID tag. A few hotels even have a dog masseuse on staff. While traveling, pets need a seat belt system or portable carrier to stay safe on the road. Food and water, as well as safety supplies, are available in all-in-one kits and waste disposal systems are made for easy clean up on trips. There are even motion sickness aids for pets.

Families are interested in interacting with their animals and manufacturers are happy to help them. Pet toymakers will concentrate on multi-purpose, intelligent, interactive and puzzle type toys.

As the cost of pet health care continues to increase, people are interested in purchasing pet health insurance. In order to supply this need, more companies and stores will team up to provide various insurance options. Insurance will cover alternative types of treatments and older pet care as well as general pet health care.

Consumers will also turn to alternative treatments to help pets live longer, healthier lives. These treatments include massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, hydrotherapy, nutrition, and homeopathy.

High-tech has invaded the pet supply industry. Items such as computerized ID tags, digital aquarium kits, automatic door, and touch-activated toys allow owners to care for pets with ease. Other products designed for convenience include, programmable feeding and drinking systems, self-cleaning litter boxes and self-warming pet mats.

Complete and balanced meals tantalize pets' taste buds. There are balanced meals for kittens and puppies and special diets for senior pets to help a pet live a healthy life.

We tend to humanize our pets and want them to have a lifestyle comparable to ours. Pet-related spending may not be recession proof but it does seem to be recession resilient. Pet owners continue to spend on necessities for their pets but may forego some of the more frivolous items. This year's statistics and trends reassure us that pets continue to enjoy their status as family members.

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