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Dog Commerce: The Multibillion-Dollar Industry

How much is Fido worth to an average American family? Well, if you look at how much consumers shell out for their pooches every year, it seems those pups are supporting an entire sector of commerce on their own.

Yes, dog commerce is very much alive and well.

In fact, a recent Nielsen survey conducted by Harris Poll indicated that 95 percent of U.S. pet owners think of their dogs as family members. And not the distant cousin type of family member who comes for an unexpected visit and outstays their welcome; the pooches are making their way to the top dog spot in the family.

That sentimental connection might explain why pet owners spent $389 million on pet-related gifts for birthdays and holidays in 2014 (after all, Santa wouldn’t dare forget all the good boys and girls), but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

With 62 percent of Americans having as least one pet, that’s generating a $19.7 billion industry that’s spent on pet care alone. So who has the most pets? Millennials (65 percent own) and Gen X (71 percent own), Nielsen said. In terms of meals, that’s also keeping the concept of pet commerce thriving into a growing, multibillion industry.

Here’s how pet owners’ annual food expenditures break down:

• Dog food: $9.5 billion

• Cat food: $4.9 billion

• Bird food: $571 million

• Other pet food: $115 million

• Fish food: $60 million

The non-food item costs take the figures to the next level. Cat litter alone is a $1.8 billion industry — and dog control costs come in at around $250 million. Litter supply costs, in general, hit $136.3 million in a year’s time; bowls hit $66.8 million; houses and carriers hit $60.5 million in that same time period.

And the expenses don’t stop there. Consumers also shell out, on average, $389 million on medicine, $19.2 million on pet treatments, $2.4 million on pet repellent and $379.1 million on flea and tick products. Americans also spend $166 million annually on pet grooming and $11 million on new brushes.

Perhaps the million- and billion-dollar grand totals seem like a lot, but, in the grand scheme of things, it’s safe to say that many Americans find their pets to be priceless.

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