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Pet Industry Trends: Pet Spending Statistics in 2024

In the US, over 66% of households own a pet and collectively spend over $136 billion per year! Pet spending has increased nearly every year for the last several decades and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Now more than ever, people consider their pets family members, not just companions. 

Pet owners are no longer just spending money on the “essentials.” Christmas presents, spa days, and doggie clothes are all rising spending categories. 

This article will explore 2024’s evolving pet trends and delve into pet spending statistics. We’ll look at how consumer behavior and economic factors influence spending patterns across the pet care industry as a whole. 

Financial responsibilities of pet owners.

Owning a pet is a serious financial commitment. While the love they bring is priceless, real costs are involved in ensuring their well-being throughout their lives. All pet owners need to purchase essential supplies, like pet food, food bowls, beds, leashes, collars, and litter boxes. Vet visits are also necessary and can get costly, especially for younger and older pets. 

The ongoing costs of owning a pet can be high, too. The average pet owner spends nearly $1,400 a year on each pet. However, depending on the pet's needs, this number can be much higher. 

Pet food, veterinary care, grooming, pet boarding, and training classes are all ongoing expenses that pet parents are likely to spend money on each year. 

Pet spending habits by generation.

The financial responsibility of caring for furry (or feathery or scaly) companions is constantly evolving. Different generations tend to prioritize different responsibilities. 

Millennials are now the largest demographic of pet owners and are likely to be covering the cost of their pets by themselves. In contrast, around half of Gen Z pet owners share the financial responsibility of owning a pet with another person.

When it comes to pet tech products, Gen Zs are more likely than Millennials to make a purchase. 1 in 3 Gen Z pet owners surveyed had purchased a pet tech product.

Pet supplements - a rising pet care niche - are much more likely to be purchased by Millennials than their younger counterparts.

But that’s not to say that Millennials are more health-conscious. Gen Z pet parents are much more likely to provide their pets with a raw food diet. 

Factors that influence pet spending behavior.

The choices and amount pet owners spend on their furry companions are influenced by various factors. For pet care businesses, it’s important to understand these motivators to better cater to your customers’ needs and predict future trends. 

Here are some of the key driving factors:

  • The Human-Animal Bond: For many, the emotional connection with their pet is the major driver in spending decisions. Many modern pet owners see their pets as family members, making them willing to spend more on their well-being and happiness. 
  • Anthropomorphism: Many modern pet owners also treat their pets like humans, attributing human emotions to them. In many cases, this leads to increased spending on premium foods, treats, clothing, and even spa services. 
  • Demographics and Lifestyle: Factors like income and family structure also play a role. Millennials, for example, tend to be high pet spenders due to higher levels of disposable income. Busy lifestyles might increase spending on pet walkers, daycare, or tech-enabled feeders.
  • Pet-Related Concerns: Health concerns drive pet owners to spend money on premium foods and supplements. Often, pet owners are willing to spend more on something if they view it as “healthier.” This likely drives the purchase of special diets, including raw food and home-cooked meals. 
  • Economic Factors: Dog owners see their pets as part of their family and are willing to live more frugally to be able to cover necessary pet expenses. 1 in 3 dog owners admitted to living on a tighter budget to afford their pet’s expenses.
  • Sustainability: Around 70% of pet owners say that it is important that the pet products they purchase are environmentally friendly or sustainable. 
  • Social Media and Advertising: Both Gen Z and Millennial pet owners put a lot of weight on recommendations from friends and family members. 
woman looking at dog leash with dog in her arms for pet spending statistics article.
Source: iStock

What do pet owners spend the most money on?

Pet owners generally spend the most money on two main categories: food and veterinary care. 

Food is a huge recurring expense, and there is a growing trend of dog owners purchasing “special diets” for their pets. Lots of dog owners are touting the praises of a raw food diet. 

Veterinary costs have been steadily increasing over the decades. Regular preventative care like vaccines and parasite control typically costs pet parents hundreds a year. Millennials and Gen Zs are feeling the squeeze and are more likely to feel concerned about covering the costs of veterinary care compared to baby boomers.

Around 88% of dog owners are willing to pay for pet insurance, and many are driven by the financial stress of costly vet bills.

While food and vet care are the primary spending categories, there are a few others that contribute to the overall expense of pet ownership, including:

  • Essential supplies: Beds, leashes, collars, litter boxes, etc.
  • Grooming: Some breeds require professional grooming. 
  • Pet sitting: This service can be a great addition to most pet care businesses.
  • Pet insurance: As we stated above, more and more owners are choosing pet insurance to help cover unexpected vet bills. 

Holiday pet spending habits.

The holiday season is synonymous with gift-giving, and our pets are more and more likely to be included in this celebration now. However, exactly how much the average owner spends on their pets during the holidays varies. 

Both Millennials and Gen Z spend around $100 on their pets over the holiday season. But when looking at pet parents who have cats only, Gen Z spends about $85. This is significantly more than Millennials who spend about $55.

Popular holiday gifts and pet products to consider selling in your pet business include:

  • Apparel, especially if it's festive
  • Toys
  • Treats, often holiday-themed
  • Special food and personalized essentials
woman looking at dog harness for pet spending statistics article.
Source: iStock

8 promotional strategies for you to try in 2024.

Understanding consumer spending is only the first step to increasing revenue. Now, you have to use what we’ve discussed in your business. Here are some ways you might do that:

1. Appeal to emotional connection.

Emphasize the human-animal bond in marketing campaigns, as this is one of the key driving factors in pet purchases. Content and visuals that showcase the love between owners and their pets may drive more sales. 

2. Cater to specific demographics.

Millennials and Gen Z pet owners spend differently. Tailor marketing emails and product offers to these different age groups. Consider offering special solutions for busy pet owners, too. Online ordering and subscription services for needed supplies can help pet parents save time and money. 

3. Address health and wellbeing.

Pet owners are likely to spend more on products they see as healthy. Highlight the benefits of how your service increases their pet’s well-being. While food and supplement companies can obviously benefit from this finding, pet walkers, trainers, and groomers all play a role in pet health, too. 

4. Remain sensitive to economic factors.

While pet owners are spending more on their pets, economic factors still play a role in their purchasing decisions. Promote value-based options and highlight where your services and products are cheaper. Discounts and bundles can help drive sales.

5. Utilize influencers.

Consider utilizing influencers to help drive sales to pet owners. Targeted social media campaigns can leverage user-generated content and are likely to reach younger pet owners. Influencers may have a wider audience than your business and often carry some credibility with their followers. 

6. Embrace sustainability.

Millennials and Gen Z pet owners prefer eco-friendly and ethically sourced products. Highlight your sustainable practices whenever possible. Consider partnering with animal welfare organizations or environmental protection non-profits. 

7. Highlight convenience.

Many pet owners are busy. Consider how you can make their lives easier by offering online ordering and delivery options. Utilizing a pet care business software, like PetExec, can do this for you. 

PetExec allows pet parents to manage their credit card information, make payments towards a balance, and purchase packages right from their mobile app. Additionally, your clients can book appointments online. This offers a whole new level of convenience to your clients.

8. Leverage the power of data.

With modern management software, you can use your customer data to send personalized messages and recommend products. Use a business management software like PetExec to create personalized pet profiles and track your clients' preferences and needs. 

Final thoughts.

Whether your business is new or a decade old, it’s a great time to be involved in the pet industry. That said, keeping up with current trends and adjusting your business strategy accordingly is important. 

More and more pet owners are influenced by sustainability, and most are inherently concerned with their pets’ health. Using this type of information can help you market your products and services more effectively. 

For pet care business software that can help you jump on the 2024 trends, check out PetExec!

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