By Sherry Davis
It appears the recession has had little impact on what we are willing to spend on our pets, with the latest data showing pet products and services coming in as the seventh largest retail industry in the United States.
The following spending statistics gathered by the American Pet Products Association show that we spent $50.96 billion on our pets in 2011, up from $48.35 billion in 2010, and are expected to exceed that amount in 2012 with an estimated $52.87 billion.
Here's the 2011 breakdown:
Food: $19.85 billion
Vet care: $13.41 billion
Supplies/over-the-counter medicine: $11.77 billion
Pet services: Grooming and boarding: $3.79 billion
Live animal purchases: $2.14 billion
Dogs (by more than $7 million) were the largest beneficiaries of our spending dollar, according to the results from the American Pet Products 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, which listed the number of U.S. households that own a pet:
Dog: 46.3 million
Cat: 38.9 million
Freshwater fish: 11.9 million
Bird: 5.7 million
Reptile: 4.6 million
Small animal: 5.0 million
Equine: 2.4 million
Saltwater fish: 0.7 million
The 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association also listed the following 2011 trends and top products for the "pet who has everything:"
* Natural and earth-friendly pet products -- which include everything from toys made from natural materials to kitty litter -- are the trend, and organic pet food options are endless.
* Companies such as Paul Mitchell, Omaha Steaks, Origins, Harley-Davidson and Old Navy known traditionally for human products are going after your pet dollar and are offering pet products such as shampoos, pet attire, toys and pet food, and another trend appears to be the ever-growing list of celebrities launching their own pet food lines.
* Many hotel chains are re-evaluating and expanding their pet policies, and are rolling out the red carpet for Fido to get your vacationing dollar with canine amenities including everything from pet pillows, toys and turn-down treats to on-staff doggy masseuses.
* Top-selling products are automatic self-flushing litter boxes, digital aquarium kits, baby wipes for muddy paws, scented air fresheners to eliminate pet odors, computerized ID tags, automatic pet doors and feeders, touch-activated toys and hand-made treats.
* Designer outfits to keep pets in fashion throughout the year include monogrammed sweaters, faux mink coats, hipster lumberjack vests, designer plaid jackets and matching jeweled and leather collar and leash sets. Bestsellers are Halloween costumes and other holiday outfits, and upscale leather carriers with cell phone and water bottle holders to keep the pet owner in style.
Do I think of Frank and Gilly as the "pets who have everything?" Well, they do get regular check-ups, eat a premium food and happily anticipate their nightly "milky" or bully stick. And on special occasions they get their favorite (and highly-coveted!) peanut butter bones from Biscuit.
So I'm not ashamed to admit that they're spoiled, and there's certainly no doubt I'm doing my part to fuel these industry statistics.
But to keep things in balance, I also "treat" their minds and bodies with frequent training sessions, and both dogs have full-time jobs as senior and junior assistants in my company and as therapy dogs serving their community.
I think a few bones is a small price to pay for such a priceless return.
Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @csi4K9s. These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.