ROCKVILLE, MD. — Dog and cat treat sales are trending up at a significant rate. Market research firm Packaged Facts shared sales of this category will reach $9.87 billion by the end of this year, keeping with double-digit growth over the last two years.

Growth of dog and cat treat sales continues to outpace increases for both the pet food and pet supplies markets and has only been augmented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Pet owners spending more time at home with their pets has translated into more opportunities for treat-giving, and an increased focus on health and wellness has resulted in more interest in functional treats,” said Shannon Brown, analyst at Packaged Facts.

Several overarching industry trends seen in the pet food space are also bleeding over into pet treats, such as plant-based formulas, alternative proteins, vegetarian options focused on animal welfare and environmental impact, and treats with better nutrition promises and functional health benefits.

For example, in a survey conducted by Packaged Facts in August and September 2021, more than 25% of pet owners stated they have started eating more plant-based foods since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and more than half (54%) of respondents said they are interested in pet treats formulated with plant-based proteins.

E-commerce has undoubtedly impacted this category as well. Packaged Facts suggests that, in the past, pet treat sales have been hindered by the rise of internet shopping because treats have been seen traditionally as an “impulse purchase” when pet owners shop in-store. However, the changing consumer behaviors during and following the COVID-19 pandemic have actually supported pet treat sales this year.

Currently 80% of pet treats on the market are for dogs, but cat treat sales are growing at a faster rate since 2016. Packaged Facts stated interest in cat treats is likely to continue growing as the industry pays more attention to feline companions, and as more cat owners jump on the premium and super-premium pet product train.

Keep up with the latest pet food trends on our Trends page.