Do you have a pet? Maybe more than one? Perhaps a variety of both furry and non-furry creatures that inhabit your home? (There’s no judging here!)

Our household currently features two cats and a dog—the cats were part of a package deal when my husband and I started dating seven years ago (he had them before we got together), and the dog came into the picture just about two years ago. (Truth: my husband was not a dog person before we met, and I was not a cat person. Now he is mad for the dog, and I tolerate the cats.) And if your household is anything like ours, your furry, four-legged babies rule the roost. (Second truth: The animal with the most power in our home? The 6-pound cat. She terrifies our 60-pound pit bull mix, and regularly beats up on the other cat who is literally more than double her size.)

This is all to say that pets and all the accoutrements that come along with them are often at top of mind in our home, and apparently my husband and I are not alone in this regard. According to the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, 36.5% of households own at least one dog, and 30.4% own a cat. (The number drops off drastically for birds and horses, however, at 3.1% and 1.5%, respectively. And exotic pets clock even smaller numbers.) And according to the American Pet Products Association, it’s estimated that pet products will rake in more than $62 billion in sales this year. And that’s almost double what was spent 10 years ago (a mere $38.5 billion). And in 2011, that averaged out to about $500 that a family spent per year on their pet.

Doggy

Are you shocked that people spend so much on their furry friends? If so, A) Don’t be, and B) My guess is you probably don’t have a pet.

See, people looooove their pets. Sometimes more than they love the rest of their family, let’s be honest. And people looooove to spoil their pets. Take a look at the pet aisle in your local grocery or big box store, or heck, if you can be sure that you won’t come home with another cat, dog, or iguana, take a stroll through the nearest pet-focused big box store. What do you see? Answer: Anything you could ever want or dream of for your pet, from toys that squeak and bounce to food that is probably better quality than what you serve yourself, and everything in between.

Why? Why would people want to spend a small fortune on these creatures?

Because pets give us unconditional love, and in return we want to give them more than just kibble.

That reason alone is why the pet industry is recession proof. In good times, people want to spoil their pets, and they’re happy to throw money to get them little treats and toys. In bad times, people want to spoil their pets, and those little treats and toys don’t have to cost a lot of money.

And that’s good news for entrepreneurs who are launching (or have launched) their awesome new pet product. The pet products industry is steadily growing, and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. If anything, it’s being fueled by marketers tapping into people’s love for their pets, and the growing strength of trade shows that focus solely on pets, like the upcoming Progressive Pet Products (P3) show in Chicago.

Never underestimate a person’s love for their pet, or their willingness to spend some (or a lot) of their hard-earned cash on specialty treats, food, toys, and more. It’s what makes the bond between pet and person so special, and it’s what keeps this product category growing and growing.

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