Pet owners are treating their dogs and cats like family, from feeding them organic food to splurging on premium health insurance.

By Alexandra Lim-Chua Wee
May 01, 2019
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Credit: Elizabethsalleebauer/Getty

There's no doubt about it: We love our furry friends like family. They help us get more exercise, sleep better, and can even sniff out harmful health issues. Now, new data suggests that we're spending record amounts of money on our pets, too. According to a 2017-2018 study by the American Pet Products Association, nearly 85 million families-or 68 percent of households in the U.S.-are pet owners. Every month, the average American will spend approximately $126.19 on their pets, with about 42 percent of those expenses going towards food.

This, of course, is good news for pet care companies like Chewy which recently announced going public. In 2018 alone, the retailer hit $3.5 billion in sales, a whopping 65 percent spike from the previous year, reported CNN. "There is an increased focus on the impact of diet on pet health," Chewy said in its filing. "Pet parents increasingly view pets as part of the family and are willing to spend increasingly larger dollar amounts on higher-quality goods and services for those family members."

And when it comes to keeping our pets healthy, we're not only springing for organic pet food options and premium diets, but we're also investing in their health insurance-with written premiums totaling nearly $1.2 billion in 2017. This all contributes to record growth for the pet health insurance industry, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

In fact, according USA Today, a study by TD Ameritrade of over 1,500 millennials found that Gen-Yers even expect to shell out more on their pet's health insurance over the pet's lifetime than on their own. Then again, some researchers have found that the science behind the strong bond between people and their pets (at least for dog-owners) may run in our DNA-literally. All the more reason to treat our four-legged friends like true family.

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