These foods are more expensive, but owners see their pets as “furry, winged and finny extensions of their family,” Vetere said, noting that it didn’t matter if the pets were dogs, cats, bird, fishes, horses or something else.
Sales numbers show owners are buying more age-specific, breed-specific, vitamin-infused or additive-enhanced foods, Vetere said.
The health of people also plays a role in the robust outlook for the industry’s future, Vetere said. “The body of science validating that pets are good for us is growing with strong research in numerous areas of health,” he said.
Other spending included $14.37 billion for veterinary care; $13.14 billion for supplies and over-the-counter medicines; $2.23 billion for live animal purchases; and $4.41 billion for other services.
Those services which include grooming, boarding, training and pet-sitting, grew by the largest percentage last year – 6.1 percent.
Health and wellness products, supplies and over-the-counter medications – which grew by 7.4 percent in 2012 – grew only 3.9 percent in 2013, Vetere said.
Sales of live animals – everything except dogs and cats – has fallen off in the past few years, Vetere said. He expects it to drop off another 2 percent this year.
American pets include an estimated 95.6 million cats and 83.3 million dogs, the APPA said. There are also 20.6 million birds, 8.3 million horses, 145 million freshwater fish, 13.6 million saltwater fish, 11.6 million reptiles and 18.1 million small animals.