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Americans spent $58 billion on pets last year

Sharon Lawler, from Playa Del Rey, Calif., left, with “Peluche,” a Tibetan-Terrier Mix available for adoption held by pet care giver Sean McGinnis, at the NKLA Pet Adoption Center in Los Angeles in 2013.
Sharon Lawler, from Playa Del Rey, Calif., left, with “Peluche,” a Tibetan-Terrier Mix available for adoption held by pet care giver Sean McGinnis, at the NKLA Pet Adoption Center in Los Angeles in 2013. AP

We feed them, groom them, clothe them and otherwise shell out the big bucks to protect and pamper our pets.

The American Pet Products Association’s annual report on pet industry spending says Americans spent $58 billion in 2014 on their 397 million pets, which range from freshwater fish and reptiles to cats and dogs.

The industry trade group released the survey Thursday at the Global Pet Expo, an annual trade show in Orlando. The data came from a variety of groups, market research studies and media reports.

The association measures five areas of spending. Last year, people spent $22 billion on food; $15 billion on veterinary care; $14 billion on supplies such as beds, bowls and collars and over-the-counter medicine to fight ailments such as fleas, ticks and colds; $4.8 billion on other services; and $2 billion on animals themselves.

The “other services” category grew the fastest in 2014 and includes payments on grooming, boarding, walking, training, day care and even trips to the spa — where pets can get facials and massages, said Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the pet products association, based in Greenwich, Connecticut.

If food for pets sometimes sounds good enough to eat, it’s because it is. San Diego-based Honest Kitchen and Vero Beach-based Caru Natural Dog Stews are two pet food brands considered human-grade by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because their grub is made with ingredients palatable by people and produced in facilities meeting higher safety requirements.

Sales of the animals themselves dropped from $2.23 billion in 2013 to $2.15 billion in 2014, which was expected because spending in the category has fallen slightly each of the past several years, Vetere said. There is likely no one reason, he said. But adoptions at shelters and rescues are strong, many cities banned the sale of dogs from puppy mills and the lifespans of dogs and cats have lengthened.

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