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Pet Spending Reaches $55.7B High [AUDIO]

We are treating our pets more like humans these days. In fact, Americans spent an all-time high of $55.7 billion on our furry friends in 2013, and spending is expected to reach nearly $60 billion this year.

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The largest part of spending last year went for food, $21.57 billion, according to the American Pet Products Association. Those numbers come as no surprise to George Parente, president and owner of Dogs and Cats Rule in Princeton.

“Our customers have expendable income,” Parente said. “Some are empty-nesters, single parents or singles with no children. Their pet is their companion; they’ve humanized them to become like furry children. As the products have become more human and they relate more to the everyday life of a person, they want more for their animals — there is no question about it.”

We are eating better ourselves, which is contributing to the change in pet diets.

“With stores like Whole Foods and Wegmans and Trader Joe’s, people understand that if they eat better, they will have fewer ailments and fewer visits to the doctor, and they are projecting that onto their animals,” Parente said. “Over the last 10 years, sweet potatoes and chicken breasts have become much more popular foods for our pets. You read the ingredients and they read better than most packages you’re going to see for people at the supermarket.”

Aside from the amount being spent on better foods, pet owners also are spending $14.37 billion on veterinary care, $13.14 billion for supplies and over-the-counter medications and $4.41 billion on other services which include grooming, boarding, training and pet-sitting, which grew by 6.1 percent last year.

“We get a lot of requests in our store for pet sitters and dog walkers,” Parente said. “People are working long hours and they want to know that their animals are being walked and fed, and they are spending a lot of money to make sure they are well taken care of.”

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