SAN ANTONIO — The humanization of pets is keeping the needs of dogs and cats a top priority within their owners’ budgets, according to Vericast’s 2023 Retail TrendWatch report and a recent consumer survey of more than 700 pet owners. More than 75% of pet owners today view their pet more like a child, regardless of generation; roughly 82% of Millennial pet owners, 75% of Gen X, 70% of Gen Z, and 67% of Baby Boomers feel this way.

In general, these pet owners are looking to increase their spending on pet food, treats, supplements and hygiene products, as well as on celebratory pet purchases, like birthday and holiday gifts. According to the survey, approximately 80% of pet owners buy gifts for their pets’ birthdays and during the holidays.

Despite this glowing sentiment, pet product inflation — alongside inflation in several other consumer product and service categories — continues to impact the pet-owning population, creating a decision between saving or splurging on their four-legged family members.

“Amid cautious spending behaviors, there is still a strong appetite to spend on pets,” said Taylor Coogan, pet industry expert and client strategist at Vericast. “However, external factors such as the end of the student loan repayment pause, a shifting job market and other factors may influence how a consumer thinks about pet spending later this year. With the holiday season approaching, now is an opportune time for brands to evaluate how they will communicate the value they provide to pet owners.”

Some pet owners are holding fast to their pet purchasing standards, while others are seeking discounted items and other ways to save. For example, roughly 37% of pet owners said they are seeking discounts on pet products, while 28% are using loyalty programs to rack up savings.

At the same time, most consumers are unwilling to compromise on quality. Vericast reported 78% of survey respondents are willing to increase their spending on pet food and treat products this year compared to 2022, and 38% of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for health products such as supplements and vitamins.

These spending sentiments have been reflected in other industry surveys, including MarketPlace’s recent survey of pet supplement shoppers in the United States, which showed the vast majority of this audience would rather cut their own spending on entertainment, apparel, or other categories before reducing the amount they spend on their pets.

Pet owners are also shopping for pet products through a variety of channels, with 32% opting for specialty stores like Petco or PetSmart, 30% shopping at “other big box shops,” 20% preferring e-commerce, and 13% seeking local boutique pet shops.

Despite inflationary pressures, pet industry sales continue to climb. In 2022, total industry sales topped $136.8 billion, with pet food and treats leading the pack at $58.1 billion.

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