Annual pet spending passes $50 billion mark

SUE MANNING
The Associated Press
Modified: March 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm •  Published: March 9, 2012
Advertisement
;

Pet ownership is becoming less of an impulse decision, Vogelsang said. "I am seeing a lot of people saying, 'This isn't the time for us.' People are more interested in pets than ever before but they are taking their time, once they make the commitment, to do it right."

"I don't think this is a bad thing. I am proud of the owners," she said.

Pet insurance is another area that is expected to grow briskly, Vetere said. Included in the veterinary care category, insurance was estimated to be $450 million in 2011 and expected to grow to more than $500 million in 2012.

"Insurance makes such a difference in the health of an animal," Vogelsang said. "I can't tell you how many times I have had a pet come in and the only reason (the owners) were able to afford catastrophic care is because they had insurance. It's literally a life-saver and I'm really glad people are embracing the concept," the veterinarian said.

The pet industry is also a major attraction for entrepreneurs and investors looking for creative and innovative products, Vetere said.

Vogelsang believes the trend is toward "very specific items geared to the specific needs of pets. 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," she said.