Los Angeles — We feed them, groom them, clothe them and otherwise shell out the big bucks to protect and pamper our pets.
The American Pet Products Association’s annual report on pet industry spending says Americans spent $58 billion in 2014 on their 397 million pets, which range from freshwater fish and reptiles to cats and dogs.
The industry trade group released the survey Thursday at the Global Pet Expo, an annual trade show in Orlando, Florida. The data came from a variety of groups, market research studies and media reports.
Here’s a snapshot of how we spend money on pets:
Where the money goes
The association measures five areas of spending. Last year, people spent $22 billion on food; $15 billion on veterinary care; $14 billion on supplies such as beds, bowls and collars and over-the-counter medicine to fight ailments such as fleas, ticks and colds; $4.8 billion on other services; and $2 billion on animals themselves.
The “other services” category grew the fastest in 2014 and includes payments on grooming, boarding, walking, training, day care and even trips to the spa — where pets can get facials and massages, said Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the pet products association, based in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Vet visits flat
The report says trips to the veterinarian were unchanged or slightly down last year, although expenditures per visit have increased as owners green-light more expensive procedures, Vetere said. Those treatments ranged from the lifesaving to the exotic, like plastic surgery.
A robust human-animal bond still exists, especially with dogs and cats, and people are doing more to prolong their pets’ lives, from surgery to food, Vetere said.
What’s for dinner
If food for pets sometimes sounds good enough to eat, it’s because it is. San Diego-based Honest Kitchen and Vero Beach, Florida-based Caru Natural Dog Stews are two pet food brands considered human-grade by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because their grub is made with ingredients palatable by people and produced in facilities meeting higher safety requirements.
Americans spent the most on food for their pets last year, and much of it mirrored human trends, such as gluten-free, wheat-free, little sugar or reduced-calorie. The feast might come dry, wet, raw, baked, flaked, shredded, diced, sliced, frozen or freeze-dried.
Pet sales down
Sales of the animals themselves dropped from $2.23 billion in 2013 to $2.15 billion in 2014, which was expected because spending in the category has fallen slightly each of the past several years, Vetere said. There is likely no one reason, he said. But adoptions at shelters and rescues are strong, many cities banned the sale of dogs from puppy mills and the lifespans of dogs and cats have lengthened.
As pets have become more important parts of U.S. families, spending on them has exploded. There has been more than a threefold increase since the group’s first survey was released in 1994, when people paid out $17 billion. Spending grew 4.2 percent, from $55.72 billion in 2013 to $58.04 billion last year, Vetere said.
People spent about five times more on their pets than they did on movies last year. The box office firm Rentrak estimated that ticket sales from 2014 totaled $10.4 billion, a 5.2 percent drop from 2013. But people spent far more on their homes than they did their pets, with expenditures from home improvements and repairs reaching $298 billion in 2013, the most recent data available.
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