American pet owners come in all ages, all economic levels, racial identities, and everything in between – painting a portrait of a pet owner is nearly impossible. Among the 90 million pet dogs nationwide and their owners, no two look exactly alike; but between all of us, our pets are our very best friends.

It’s what pet owners have in common with one another, not their differences, that makes the business of pets so interesting. In 2018, Americans spent $72 billion on their pets, ranging from $80 to $142 per month and about $1,300 per year. In spite of economic and personal financial struggles, the pet industry continues to grow, with many pet parents prioritizing their pet’s health and happiness beyond their own.

  • Among pet owners, 66 percent consider their pet a best friend, 56 percent a snuggle buddy, and 37 percent a guardian.
  • 67 percent of millennials consider their pet their “fur baby”.
  • Spending in the United States on pet care, at $72 billion, surpassed the value of the combined GDP of 39 countries in 2018.

Just as we may prioritize our own healthy eating habits, pet owners are beginning to do the same for their pets as well. Over 80 percent of pet owners believe better food and nutrition over a lifetime will help improve their pet’s quality of life. More and more pet parents are educating themselves on what exactly they are scooping into their fur baby’s food dish. The bad list includes harmful additives such as BHA and BHT, common carcinogens that are often used as preservatives. Low-quality feed-grade ingredients, meat by-products, and dyes contained in cheap pet food varieties are being replaced on grocery shopping lists by premium alternatives. Though often more expensive, high quality pet foods leave little room for additives, use natural preservatives like vitamins C and E, and follow strict guidelines for food sourced in the U.S.

  • Pet parents are starting to opt for non-GMO, organic, and scientifically formulated food.
  • In 2018, one in three pet owners gave their pets daily supplements like Glucosamine and Omega-3 for joint health and probiotics for digestion support.
  • By 2022, the pet CBD market is expected to grow 60 percent and has shown to be beneficial for dogs suffering with arthritis.
Dogs dressed as a bride and groom take part in a wedding ceremony for pets as part of Valentine's Day celebrations at a shopping mall in Hong Kong
Dogs dressed as a bride and groom take part in a wedding ceremony for pets as part of Valentine's Day celebrations at a shopping mall in Hong Kong REUTERS

Good long-term nutrition is one of the best defenses against damage from a potential emergency. Because we may not always have the funds on hand to pay for costly urgent vet care, something one in three pets will need yearly, we can at least help mitigate some damage by investing in pets' health. When even routine and breed-predictable health problems arise, vet care can cost up into the tens of thousands of dollars. The pet health insurance market is picking up the slack when it comes to pet medical emergencies, covering care from routine visits, eye conditions, skin problems, and up to radiation therapy and kidney transplants.

  • On average, Americans spend $1,300 per year on pet care.
  • Three in four pet owners are willing to make financial sacrifices for their pets, with 79 percent saying they would stop eating at restaurants and 67 percent saying they would postpone a vacation.
  • Most costly emergencies include radiation therapy, brain tumor treatment, and kidney disease care.

Though we can’t put a price on the unconditional love we have for our furry companions, the pet industry means big money. This infographic details the investments into pet’s health and quality of life, how it’s helping keep our budget under control, our pets safe and healthy, and what it could mean for the economy at large.

Brian Wallace is founder and president of NowSourcing, an infographic design agency based in Louisville, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio, which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s.