When I saw our dog, Nico, looking at me helplessly before a recent cold spell, I knew what he was thinking – “Give me a break! Can’t you buy better things with your money, like toys?”

I told him, “I agree, Nico, why do we spend so much on stupid stuff for our pets?”

While I think there are some interesting psychological reasons for what we do, I was equally curious about the pet market itself, which continues to be one of the strongest growth retail segments in the United States.

Here are some fun and interesting things I learned about the Pet Industry including five new types of services or products emerging.

One thing I learned is that I have a new title, I am a “pet parent.”

A Snapshot of the Pet Industry. The U.S. pet industry is a $75 billion industry that has grown on average 9 percent per year since 2001. It is now three times the size of the toy industry and almost as large as the cosmetics industry.


Source: AmericanPetProducts.org

The percentage of households with pets is now 68%, up from 56% in 1988. The fastest-growing demographic segment with pets is the younger Millennial and Gen-X segments that own 62% of all pets, while Baby Boomers account for 32%.

Dogs represent the largest pet segment at 46%, while cats are second at 31%, although they act like they are number one. Millennials, though, are really embracing dogs, since dogs represent 74% of their pets. Dogs are more expensive to own, however, with average annual costs amounting to $1,381 as compared to $908 for cats.

Source: AmericanPetProducts.org

How We Spend our Money on Pets. As we pet owners know food is our largest expenditure at about 42 percent of all spending. This is followed by vet expense (25%) and supplies and play toys (22%).

Millennials are having a huge impact on sales trends within these categories as they push towards natural and healthy foods and giving pets many more treats than Baby Boomers. According to Zoom Room, a Pet Franchise publication, perhaps the Millennials’ most significant impact is they love to buy nonessential pet items and services – 60% of Millennials versus 8% of Baby Boomers.

Five Interesting Pet-Related Products or Services. Speaking of nonessential pet items or services, here are five new pet-related items that caught my eye in a Forbes Magazine article from 2018 The Biggest Trends in the Pet Industry.

  • Pet Plate. This is a dog food subscription service that ships nourishing, frozen, proportion-controlled meals to the pet parent on a regular basis. This picture of a meal from PetPlate.com almost even appeals to this Pet Parent.
  • Grand PooBox. This is a new kind of cat box that uses less kitty litter and controls litter spreading and helps remove the same from the cat’s paws. You can see the Grand PooBox in this You-Tube video if you are intrigued.
  • SpotOn. Like Uber and Lyft, SpotOn is a pet-friendly driving service. Not only do they welcome all kinds of pets on your ride, they even provide safety belts and other safety devices for your pet.
  • Dig Dates. With dating apps becoming more specialized, “the dog person’s dating app,” DigDates.com, is becoming more and more popular. The app helps plan dog-friendly dates and users are 65% women, which apparently is opposite from most dating sites.
  • PupJoy. Another subscription service, PupJoy allows you to customize and consolidate all your dog needs including food, chews, treats, toys, and supplements, into one regular delivery.

What will you buy your pet this holiday season? Perhaps one of these items will help you, but please think of your pet’s self-esteem. As you shop, keep Nico’s face in your memory bank!