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Tierra Bonaldi / Julie Rowe
The Impetus Agency
(775) 322-4022 /

New Survey Shows America's Love Affair With Their Pets Stronger than Ever

-Leading Trade Organization Study Finds More People Than Ever Own Pets, American Spending on Pets Doubled, Pet Product Sales Outpace Toys & Candy, and Pet Pampering Reaches All Time High-

GREENWICH, CT., September, 2003 - If you think the country is going to the dogs- you're right. It's going to the dogs- and the cats and fish and iguanas. According to The American Pet Products Association (APPA), Americans own more pets than ever before. In fact, there are more pets than people in the U.S. And, as a show of their affection, American spending on pets has nearly doubled, despite the recent sluggish economy. Responding to this trend are manufacturers and service providers that are offering more lavish pet products and services than ever before.

APPA's 2003/2004 National Pet Owners Survey shows pets are playing a bigger role in the American Dream as people become more aware of the health benefits and joys associated with welcoming a pet into the home. Sixty-two percent of all households in the U.S. now own a pet, which is the highest level recorded since APPA began monitoring ownership in 1988 when ownership was 56 percent.

This love affair with pets has fueled one of the country's healthiest industries, with sales of pet products now at $31 billion, outpacing the human popular toy industry ($20.3 billion in annual sales) and the candy industry ($24 billion). It has also spurred the creation of toys, clothing, bedding, furniture and treats that rival those of humans.

"The products and services that are making up a growing portion of this beast of an industry could knock your cat's socks off," said Bob Vetere, COO of APPA. "Not only are pet owners treating their pets like a child or family member, in some cases they're treating them like royalty, indulging them in massages and gourmet dinners from pet menus at some of the country's finest hotels."

According to the survey, more than half of America's pet owners buy gifts for their pets. Sixty percent of dog, cat, bird and small animal owners have purchased a gift for their pet, while three out of 10 fish and reptile owners have also bought their pet a gift. And while Christmas is a given, most pet owners say they give their pets gifts for no special occasion, couldn't we all be so lucky!

Here are some of the trends emerging from our love affair with pets:

  • More pet-friendly destinations:
    Many hotels across the country are adopting pet friendly policies. Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has announced new policies at its Sheraton, Westin and W Hotel properties that include oversized pet pillows, plush doggie robes, and a check-in gift package that includes a pet toy, dog treat, ID tag, bone and turn down treat. They also have a licensed dog masseuse on staff.
  • Non-traditional companies offering pet products:
    Companies, traditionally known for human products are also realizing this love affair with pets can prove lucrative. Companies like Paul Mitchell, Omaha Steaks, Origins, Harley Davidson and Old Navy now offer lines of pet products.
  • Human Look-Alikes
    Some of the products coming onto store shelves reflect even further our sentiment that our pets are one of the family by resembling human products. You can now find diapers for puppies, edible greeting cards, matching ensembles and bacon flavor popcorn.
  • Pampering Products and Services
    For owners that spare no expense on their furry, feathered and finned best friends, products on the market include faux mink coats for cold afternoon outings, designer bird cages, botanical fragrances, feathered French day beds, and rhinestone tiaras. Some professionals are also now offering massages, chiropractic and even liposuction services for pets.
  • Convenience and on-the-go products
    New technology and innovation are spurring more and more products that make it easier than ever to own pets, care for pets, and take them with you. For the home, products include programmable feeders, self-cleaning trays and cages, and battery operated toys. For road trips, you can now find everything from motion sickness aids and boxed meals for pets that include food, water and a toy to fluoride-enhanced bottled water for dogs that comes in a plastic bowl with a lid that doubles as a Frisbee.

      With 77 million cats, 65 million dogs, 16 million small animals, 17 million birds, nine million reptiles, seven million saltwater fish, 185 million freshwater fish and counting… America's love affair with pets, and the array of products they lavish them with, is sure to keep growing.

      # # #

      Every two years APPA's National Pet Owner's Survey, the pet industry's most comprehensive consumer research study, examines demographics, buying habits, and other traits of U.S. owners of dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, and small animals.

      Founded in 1958, the American Pet Products Association is the nation’s leading not-for-profit trade organization serving the interests of the pet product industry and educating the public on the many joys and health benefits associated with pet ownership. APPA’s membership consists of over 750 companies, which include both small businesses, as well as the nation’s leading pet product companies.