Americans spent nearly $56 billion on their pets in 2013, and estimates for this year are nearly $59 billion.
Since the American Pet Products Association started keeping track of spending in 1996, the industry has never had a losing year.
If you follow the money, you find the bulk of it goes to the dogs and cats.
Like Alison Giron's dog "Violet."
"I feel she goes more to the groomers more than I go to the beauty salon," Giron says. "I don't have kids, so she's my child."
Giron says she doesn't mind splurging on Violet, and she's not alone. Americans are paying big bucks for their pet pals.
According to the American Pet Products Association, we spend close to $60 billion a year on their four-legged loved ones.
The biggest category of spending, food, is expected to reach an all-time high with nearly $23 million in sales estimated for this year. And not just any food -- specific kinds of food are in demand -- allergy-free, gluten-free, grain-free or calorie-free.
Human consumers want the best for their pets -- natural, organic, age-specific or breed-specific, not to mention baked, flaked, raw, wet, dry, frozen or freeze-dried.
They know that well at Groovy Cats and Dogs in Carrollwood.
"When you see a happy pet like your happy child, there's something on the inside that makes you feel good," says Lynda Marcario.
She says a healthier pet is a happier pet.
"With everyone so interested in health being so popular now, they want do it for their pet," she said.
And a pet's good health is no small expense. There's an estimated $650 million being spent on pet insurance policies now, and it is expected to top $870 million next year.
Manufacturers and businesses are staying up late to come up with new products like interactive and innovative toys and new services like pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and airlines. There are even "pupcakes," cuddly-clothes and interactive games.
Pet insurance is included in the veterinary-care category of pet spending. There is an estimated $650 million being spent on policies now, and it is expected to top $870 million next year.
The only spending area expected to see a decline this year is live animal sales. The sale of dogs and cats by breeders and adoptions at shelters and rescues around the country are expected to continue strong. But sales of the rest of the animals went down last year, and forecasts expect them to drop another two percent this year.
Owners like Violet Giron say it's all worth it.
"I feel she deserves it. She's a good dog," Giron said.
WJBK-TV | Fox 2
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