Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pooch Pampering Extremes

Americans now spend $41 billion a year on their pets—more than the gross domestic product of all but 64 countries in the world. That's double the amount shelled out on pets a decade ago, with annual spending expected to hit $52 billion in the next two years. That puts the yearly cost of buying, feeding, and caring for pets in excess of what Americans spend on the movies ($10.8 billion), playing video games ($11.6 billion), and listening to recorded music ($10.6 billion) combined.

"People are no longer satisfied to reward their pet in pet terms," argues Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Manufacturers Assn. (APPMA). "They want to reward their pet in human terms." That means hotels instead of kennels, braces to fix crooked teeth, and frilly canine ball gowns.

The rising status of pets has started an unprecedented wave of entrepreneurship in an industry once epitomized by felt mice and rubber balls. There are now $430 indoor potties, $30-an-ounce perfume, and $225 trench coats aimed solely at four-footed consumers and their wallet-toting companions. Even those who shun animal couture are increasingly willing to spend thousands on drugs for depression or anxiety in pets, as well as psychotherapy, high-tech cancer surgery, cosmetic procedures, and end-of-life care. About 77% of dogs and 52% of cats have been medicated in the past year, according to APPMA, an increase of about 20 percentage points from 1996.

And for some pet lovers, no medical procedure is too extreme. Plastic surgeons offer rhinoplasty, eye lifts, and other cosmetic procedures to help tone down certain doggy features, from droopy eyes to puggish noses. Root canals, braces, and even crowns for chipped teeth are also becoming more popular.



  1. Oh My!
    I love my dog, Molly is a sweetie and I can't imagine life without the little black fuzzball around, but she is a dog, my pet, not a child.
    That article is mind boggling!


  2. Good grief! And I thought some of my friends were big spenders when it comes to their pets! I stick to the normal things, and still shake my head over how much I spend each month on the clumpy cat litter and bags of food for the two cats and dog in our family.

    My rule is-- if I can't afford it for myself, the dog or cat sure ain't gettin' it. :o)

  3. My dad's wife retired this year and bought a little dog. She dresses it Paris Hilton-Style and carries it around in a little purse. When she comes to my house, she brings it in and requests that I put MY dog in a kennel since he upsets her little sweetie-weetie. When she leaves, I know there is a special place in heaven waiting for me. A place filled only with sane people.

  4. I think you've earned your crown just by not choking her and her little sweetie-weety.

  5. Yuck. That is just sick - all the projecting of oneself onto one's pets. I love dogs, but they're dogs.

    Think of what a fraction of that money can do for breast cancer research or scholarships and grants.

  6. That really is a bit much! lol I love my cats but I only do what is necessary to keep them healthy.