We do love our pets, that's for sure.
If any proof is needed, just take a look at statistics released last week by Packaged Facts and reported in MediaPost's Marketing Daily. Even in the worst recession in decades, spending on pet products and services increased 5 percent -- up $2.5 billion last year to total $53 billion.My household has certainly contributed to that increase. Some spending last year on Loki, our 9-year old black Lab --
* A tooth absess and tooth extraction ($2,200)
* A fractured vertabrae disc, thankfully healed now ($2,000)
* Ongoing skin allergies, requiring vet and alergist and dermatologist treatments ($1,200)
But that's ok -- Loki is our third child, and he's the only one who hasn't left home after college. He's always there, happy to see us when we come home, regardless of if we've been away for five minutes or five hours. He greet us, tail wagging wildly. (OK, so the wagging tail has claimed a few glasses that it's knocked off the cocktail table. But it's not like he did it on purpose.)
Pets as kids -- that's a major factor in the strength of the pet market. "The pet-parent sentiment has never been higher," says the editor of Packaged Facts. "The human/animal bond is an excellent insulator against recessionary cutbacks." So strong, in fact, that the publications expects sales of pet products and services to jump another 35 percent by 2014, hitting $72 billion.
Many pet owners, says the report, are unlikely to cut back significantly on pet spending, and in many cases would only do so after cutting back on their own needs. It's equally true across the economic spectrum. Pet owners who have cut back in other areas continue to spend on small indulgences for their pets, like biscuits, treats and toys.
Although "restraint" is the word that characterizes how many of us now shop, it doesn't always apply to the 61 million pet-owning households in terms of what they spend on their nearly 400 million pets.
We hear talk about how the 20-somethings will lead us out of the recession with their spending, but pet owners will be right there with them.
If, like me, you're an animal lover, you might enjoy this blog from The Delta Society, a non-profit group that works "to improve people's health and well-being through positive interactions with animals."