Americans Spent $50 Billion On Pets Last Year

We love our pets, so it’s not surprising that we spend big bucks on them.

But over $50 billion?

That’s how much, and more, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) says Americans spent on their pets in 2011.

Growth Of ‘Pet Services

Food and veterinary costs accounted for about 65% of the figure, but the category of “pet services” grew faster than any other, totaling $3.79bn in 2011. These include grooming, boarding, pet hotels and pet-sitting.

About 63 percent of U.S. households, or 71 million homes, now own at least one pet — up from 64 million just five years ago.

From the BBC:

Spending on pet services should continue to grow and reach $4.11bn (2.59bn) by the end of 2012, said APPA President Bob Vetere.

“We are seeing a boom in this category as people continue to work and require services such as pet-sitting, boarding and walking to care for their pets at home,” Mr Vetere said.

‘Bionic toys’

Pet insurance is expected to be another growth area, with spending estimated at $450m (284m) in 2011.

A wide range of pet clothes are available from US retailers, from polo shirts to wigs and fancy dress costumes.


“We are seeing a lot of puzzle feeders for dogs – not just toys but ones that are geared toward the mental needs of the animal. Then there are bionic toys for destructive chewers, a lot of very niche items.” (San Diego vetenarian Jessica Vogelsang told the Associated Press)

$695 Annually For A Medium Dog, $670 For A Cat

How does this break down for each individual pet? According to the ASPCA, the first-year cost for a medium dog is $1580, while a cat will set you back $1035. That first year is expensive. After that, it costs around $695 per year for a medium dog, and $670 for a cat. The chart on their website explains exactly where the dollars go.

That sounded like a huge amount to me, until I started to figure out how much I spend on my cat, Sergeant Pepper: around $1000 including food, vet bills and pet sitting expenses. She’s not big on toys. Of course, then there are the expenses of time consumed cleaning the house, since her fur gets everywhere, even into the rooms she’s not allowed to enter.

But take heart! According to, the average annual cost of owning a dog in the UK is currently 1,183 ($1873), while the average annual cost of owning a cat is slightly lower at 1,028 ($1627).

And besides, we can’t do without our pets.


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Photo Credit: Sephiroty Fiesta

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Lynn D.
Lynn D.3 years ago

Pets are often more loveable then the people members of a family and should be what ever the ownerts want to spend on them, they're more then worth it!

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

I recently read an article that said 'MEAT' should be the 'FIRST' ingredient listed in your cat food. So, we started paying more for the food we get them now!! Our 5 fur babies are worth every penny!!

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley3 years ago

Our fur-babies are worth all that and much more!

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright3 years ago

I would like to echo what Ayesha wrote. Animals are sentient beings who deserve to be treated well. In my mind they deserve no less than humans and probably deserve more.

Pets ARE worth every cent we spend on them....can't say the same thing for people. Ugh....

Carrie Anne Brown

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

Marieanne Phillips

Yes they are worth it. If you want to have a pet than you need to be responsible for them. Do what it takes.

Susan Duncan
Susan Duncan3 years ago

My husband and I adore our three rescue cats and make sure they have the very best of everything money can buy, from food to toys, beds, veterinary care, and we also contribute to several cat rescue groups. I have no idea how much we spend on our cats yearly and don't care. It could never be too much.

Those who "disapprove" of spending so much on animals are misguided. Each person has the right to spend his or her money where he or she sees fit. There are enough people in the world, if everyone who is able did just a little bit, monetary or otherwise, for the causes he or she believes in, then everyone would benefit, animals and humans.

Marcia Machado
Marcia Machado3 years ago

Pets are members of the family, so they deserve it.

Hanna Barney
Hanna Barney3 years ago

absolutely not surprised at the numbers.
we love us our pets.

Darla G.
Darla G.3 years ago

The estimate given for the cost of a dog for a year is much less than what I spend on each of my dogs. I don't have an exact figure but I know it's more but I don't's my money and I'll spend it on what I want. I don't spend a ton of money on clothes or shoes or other things. I give money to local dog rescues/shelters.