The $53 Billion Dollar Question

In America we spent over $53 billion a year on our pets – the same as the Pentagon’s budget
If there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s that the Pentagon spends way too much money, which is to say way too much of our money. Remember the $500 screwdriver and the $800 toilet seat?

It’s hardly surprising then that despite the Government’s sequestration the Pentagon recently put in a budget $52 billion above their allowed spending limit. Of course this has led to plenty of grumbling so it may come as a shock to learn that we spent even more in 2012 – $53.3 billion to be precise – on our pets! That’s right, we shelled out more cash on cats and dogs than the Pentagon is trying to overspend on whatever it always overspends on… and no one seems to mind!

What Would You Prefer: A Cute Puppy or Unmanned Drone?

It takes $53 billion of these to keep our pets happy each year

Perhaps it’s an indication that we like our pets more than we like unmanned drones, but it’s a pretty incredible figure nonetheless. As Derek Thompson points out in his article in The Atlantic, “It’s more than we spend on coffee and bottled water combined.”

How is it that we are spending Pentagon-sized amounts of money on our pets? Well for one thing household pets outnumber humans in the US. Okay so over half of those are goldfish (there are an estimated 160-million fish in ponds and aquariums throughout American homes) but there are also around 78-million dogs and 86-million cats being kept as pets in the US, according to the Humane Society of the United States, and that’s a lot of hungry mouths to feed.

Doing the Numbers

All those appetites result in food bills accounting for over $20 billion of all pet-related expenditure, which is just under 40% of the grand total. Healthcare, or more accurately vet-care, cost us $13.67 billion in 2012, with over the counter medicines and supplies consuming a further $12.65 billion of our money.

Although these numbers are astronomical it seems we are still more than happy to keep paying out for our pets, because the biggest jump in annual spending was for pet services. That’s right, we spent an additional $4.16 billion (a 9.7 percent increase from 2011) on what could be described as pet luxuries.

Pets on the Rise

The number of household pets is steadily rising
Experts say these figures will continue to rise as more and more households add a pet to the family. Dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Deborah Kochevar told CBS Boston “We see ownership across all ranks… and a huge percentage of households, over 60 percent, own an animal.”

So start saving, because you are soon going to be contributing to the $53 billion (and rising) we happily spend on our pets each year, in order to keep them in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

By John Bone
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