Man’s Best Friend Boosts Ailing Economy

The U.S. pet industry is set to rake in a record $53 billion this year, despite sluggish overall consumer demand, according to a report by brokerage firm ConvergEx.

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"Even in a faltering economy, pet industry expenditures continue to accelerate," strategists Nicholas Colas, Beth Reed and Sarah Millar wrote.

"While people are putting off some other major 'lifestyle' changes, such as getting married and purchasing a home, they're showing no signs of giving up man's best friend."

Spending on pets stood at $37.3 billion in 2001 and has grown steadily since. This year, sales of pet products and services are expected to total $52.9 billion, a 42 increase over 2001.

According to the report, the total lifetime cost of owning a small to medium-sized dog ranges from $7,240 to $12,700 and the lifetime cost of a cat ranges from $8,620 to $11,275.

The report points out that since 2008, in particular, the cost of keeping a pet has surged above the rate of inflation.

"While the price of pets themselves, as well as supplies and accessories are getting comparatively cheaper, the prices of vet and other pet services, and pet food, are all rising at a pace greater than the rate of inflation," the strategists said.

The cost of pet ownership has risen by 11.7 percent since mid-2008, the strategists said, versus just 5.2 percent for the consumer price index.

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