We’ll all spend less buying animals in ’18 and that’s GREAT- here’s why

By on March 1, 2018

Veterinarian’s Money Digest recently published some numbers concerning spending by pet owners in 2017. As you can imagine, the total dollar amount rose, as it has each year in recent memory, but one number didn’t. Interestingly, the number that is on the decline is the one metric we’re most excited about. We’ll explain, but first look at a little summary.

In 2016, spending on pets and their needs totaled about $66 billion- that number is from U.S. citizens and they’re a total of a few categories (food, supplies including over the counter medications, vet care, pet licenses, live animal purchases, and other services). In 2017, the total spent totaled an estimated $69 billion and no one would be surprised if that 4 percent increase was a conservative estimate. The higher numbers overall can be attributed to any number of things, but we’re sure that premiumization of pet products and caring for pets as if they are people contributes the most to the increases.

Dollars spent on food, meds, the vet, licenses, and grooming (among other services counted) rose about $3.5 billion in 2017 compared to ’16. Those numbers are going to rise, experts say, in 2018. The biggest jump in money spent will be on vet care and other professional services for your pets (7 and 5 percent respectively). The cost of “things” continues to rise and your pet services are growing faster than most anything else.

Here’s the measure we’re excited about:

In 2016, Americans spent abut $2.1 billion on live animals. In 2017, the number stayed the same- that means no growth in pet sales. That’s great.

What’s even greater is this: experts predict that 2018 will show Americans spending $2.01 billion on live animals, a 4.2 percent drop from ’17.

Now, why is that a good thing? The amount that people spent on live animal purchases has either stayed the same or gone down four years in a row, according to an article from Veterinary News. In the articles cited here, there’s no reason given for the lack of growth, but we’re going to extrapolate a little here given our knowledge of trends in the pet world. Some reasons this number could be stagnant and, therefore, a good thing for people who care about animal welfare and addressing problems in the companion animal world:

  • Adopting costs less than buying from a breeder (reputable or not) or pet store (mill dogs). If adoptions are the way more folks are going, that means fewer are buying from commercial pet sales and that top-line number is dropping. This is good news for folks who fight against puppy mills and pet stores that sell mill dogs.
  • Less spent on animals means fewer animals are being purchased, period. That’s also good news in that that likely means fewer animals are available for purchase. Fewer available means spay and neuter programs are likely working to some degree.
  • A shrinking number here likely means there a fewer stores that sell animals. Good news.
  • Overall, fewer dollars spent on buying animals means that people are spending in the “right” places and are taking care of the pets they’ve got. Better overall care for your animals is another great concept.

We hope all of this is truth and not conjecture. If it is true, that means efforts by folks who fight for shelter and rescue animals are winning, albeit by small margins yearly. And if those people are winning, so are the mill fighters in that fewer dogs are coming out of mills. Again, this could all be rose-colored perspective, but we’d be interested in being proven wrong here.

Remember: Adopt and don’t shop. Shelter and rescue operations WILL have the animal you want, though you might have to exercise (gasp!) patience. It may not be as easy to attain as dropping in at the local pet shop that sells (mill) animals, but it’s 100 percent possible. Keep fighting for animals and keep watching this number drop.

*photo credit: Aubree Sweeney

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