Millennials Spend A Ton On Their Pets. Here’s Where That Money Is Going

Millions of people across the country are able to share something in common. According to the American Pet Products Association, about 68 percent of the U.S. population owns at least one pet and about a third of those pet owners are millennials. USA Today reported that millennials are also spending more money on their pets than they do on their own health care. The rise in millennial pet ownership and spending has made it clear that they go to great lengths to take care of their “fur babies.”

Dressed To The Nines

two small dogs dressed in funny costumes
Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Pet retailers have finally found their niche market. Business Insider reported that “[r]aising kids is so expensive in America that millennials are prioritizing their pets instead.” By putting their pets first, a large percentage of millennial pet owners are willing to spend more on pet items including dog clothes.

This has led some pet clothing brands to branch out into luxury companies such as Moncler Genius and Poldo Dog Couture. Millennials are spending upwards of $400 on pet clothing alone.

The Dog Bed Market Is Expanding

a yorkshire terrier in a red dog bed
Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images
Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images

Forbes announced that the pet retail market is continuing to grow with one of the top trends being luxury pet beds. Pets are usually considered members of the family, especially for millennials, so they are treated just the same. Many pet owners look for beds that are not only comfortable for their “fur baby,” but are also stylish without taking up too much space.

Numerous pet retailers have created thousands of beds for owners to choose from, but now they’re including features that the millennial age group gravitates toward. This includes sustainability and some sort of stylish wow-factor.

Millennials Are Going Into Debt Over This

a dog getting prepped for surgery by two vets
Leon Neal/Getty Images
Leon Neal/Getty Images

LendingTree recently released results from a survey they conducted about which age groups have ever experienced pet-related debt. When they asked 760 pet owners who fell into either the baby boomer, gen X, or millennial age groups, whether they had debt from pets, millennials had the most at about 42 percent.

A lot of that debt is related to paying for their vet bills because millennial owners agreed that they would do whatever they could to make sure their animals are “happy, healthy, and safe.” Since almost half of them didn’t have the funds available to treat their pets’ illnesses, they charged it to their credit cards.

Work And Travel Don’t Stop Millennials From Owning Pets

a woman playing with dogs at a dog daycare center
Kim Jae-Hwan/AFP/GettyImages
Kim Jae-Hwan/AFP/GettyImages

The Pew Research Center estimates that 56 million millennials are part of the job market, which means they don’t have the time and energy to take care of their pets every day. Since millennials own about one-third of all pets, this has allowed pet-related businesses, including daycare centers, to gain popularity.

The average cost of petcare ranges from $12 to $38 per day, or monthly at upwards of $550. Even though some millennials are frequently working or traveling, they make sure that their pets are always cared for when they’re not around.

Walk Your Dog From Your Smartphone

a man walking a great dane in new york
Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It’s never been easier to take your dog on a walk than it is today. Now, there are apps such as Wag and Rover where pet owners locate people near them that can walk their dog, pet sit, or places to board their animals, with fees that range between $20 and $50.

The uptick in millennial spending on pets has contributed greatly to these apps. Millennials are one of the main groups who use on-demand services such as Uber and Postmates, so now they have something similar for their pets.

Petco Thanks Millennials For Their Love Of Social Media

a woman shopping at petco with her dog in the cart
Sammy Dallal/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images
Sammy Dallal/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

Petco is one of the largest pet supply chains in the world with everything from food, toys, accessories, and pets themselves up for sale. According to Quartz, millennials are largely fueling Petco’s success with over $4 billion in sales. One of the reasons they are spending so much money on their pets is to post them on social media.

Pet owners often view their pets as family, so they will dress them up and take photos and videos for platforms including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Pet retailers such as Petco are making bank due to the “humanization” of animals.

Even Pets Can Become Celebrities

doug the pug on the red carpet with leslie mosier
Sara Kauss/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Sara Kauss/FilmMagic/Getty Images

It isn’t just models who are making the big bucks on social media, but many pets have made their claim to fame. Some millennials are now spending money to make money on social media with their pets. When they dress up their cute animal and post fun pictures and videos, it can get the attention of high-profile sponsors.

These sponsors will then pay the owner to make posts with their famous pet that include shoutouts for their products. For example, Doug the Pug has an Instagram account with 3.8 million followers and will do sponsored posts about various dog toys or merchandise from Claire’s.

Dining Out With Your Pet

a woman at a restaurant with her dog
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

There are now more activities than ever for pet owners to enjoy with their furry friends. A good number of restaurants have spaces available for people to dine with their pets and there are even some places solely for pets to chow down. Since dogs are treated with special attention many millennials feel that it’s important to take them places they’ll enjoy.

Those who don’t own any pets or just love to be around animals can find restaurants around the world that have resident animals inside including cats, owls, dogs, bunnies, snakes, giraffes, and fish.

Let The Pampering Begin

a woman trimming a dog on a table
Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images
Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images

A research firm called Mintel found that pet owners spent $86.7 billion on their animals over the past year and $44.6 billion came from millennials alone. They have surpassed baby boomers as the country’s largest pet-owning age demographic, but they aren’t spending their money on what baby boomers did.

One of the newest trends that millennial pet owners are following is animal spas and hotels. These aren’t like the average groomer, but rather cover everything from shed control, hair color, nail painting, breath freshening, paw balm, facials, and more. These have become so popular that they’re now an annual $5 billion business.

These Are Popping Up In Every Neighborhood

a woman holding a yorkshire terrier next to dog clothes
Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP via Getty Images
Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP via Getty Images

Studies done by Youngsung Lee at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Bumsoo Lee and Md Tanvir Hossain Shubho at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that over the past decade, the majority of millennials have migrated to urban areas. This has led to numerous businesses that appeal to this demographic to pop up in highly populated cities.

One of the more common pet-related things added to almost every urban neighborhood are pet boutiques. These are quaint stores that include more unique items that might not be sold at a chain pet store such as specialty treats, grooming supplies, or clothing.

Pets Across The World Are Participating In This Holiday

a shih tzu dog in a superman costume with glasses
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Business Insider recently reported that birthrates in the United States are going down because millennials can’t afford to have kids. This means their pets are replacing the kids they would’ve had, so it isn’t uncommon to see the pets doing activities meant for children.

Halloween pet costume sales have hit an all-time high with more millennials buying them than ever before. The National Retail Federation estimated that almost a quarter of all Americans dressed their pets up last Halloween and the pet costume industry had over $440 million in retail sales.

They Provide Emotional Support

a person holding an emotional support puppy
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Emotional support animals have become increasingly common not just for millennials, but for various age groups. Psychology Today estimates that about 17 percent of millennials are depressed and about 14 percent suffer from anxiety, so having an emotional support animal can ease their symptoms.

There is a lot that goes into finding the perfect emotional support animal and it can be costly. This is because most medical professionals suggest finding one that is calm, friendly, and manageable, which can lead to special training and more. Those looking to register an animal should contact a licensed therapist or doctor and explain their need for having one.

Pets Are Going High-Tech

two dogs next to a furbo
The Verge/YouTube
The Verge/YouTube

A Mintel retail analyst named Chana Baram stated, “Everyone wants their pets to be happy and healthy, but millennials want more human products for their pets.” Now, there are more technology options for pets and their owners such as automatic treat dispensers and motion-capture cameras.

Since a large percentage of millennials are out of the house either working or traveling, technology helps them interact with their pet when they aren’t physically there. There are gadgets where pets can press a button if they are lonely and have it call their owner via a videophone with the option of giving them treats. These types of machines usually go for around $180.

You Are What You Eat

a dog eating food outside
Schellhorn/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Schellhorn/ullstein bild via Getty Images

One of millennials’ main concerns with their pets is that they are healthy. This means only feeding them the best, most nutritious food and treats on the market. When the American Pet Products Association (APPA) surveyed millennial pet owners they found that one of the biggest trends is pet food made from human-grade and non-GMO ingredients.

Not only are healthy pet food products a must for millennials, but they are also buying some rare oddities. These include non-alcoholic drinks for pets, pet-friendly ice cream (pictured), baked goods, and more.

It’s All Available Online

five dogs inside cardboard boxes with the chewy logo
Chewy.com/Facebook
Chewy.com/Facebook

The internet has made it quick and easy to have anything you need at the touch of a button. Recently, numerous online pet supply companies have gained massive success by being both convenient and relatively affordable.

Chewy is one of the largest online pet stores with products ranging from food, beds, clothes, medicine, and toys. Owned by PetSmart, this online retailer is now valued at about $10.2 billion. Other popular online pet options are subscription boxes that come straight to your door with brands including BarkBox and Bullymake.

What Millennials Are Giving Up For Their Pets

a woman holding her white frenchbulldog in a tan sweater
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Various surveys have confirmed that millennials are giving up many important things for the well-being of their pets. MagnifyMoney found that American millennials spent more on their pets than fresh fruits and vegetables, beef, pork, poultry, water, medicine, and alcohol. This caused the spending on pets to increase by 70 percent.

Pets are now valued members of the family, so in turn, more of them are getting special treatment. Also, over half of the millennials surveyed admitted that they would absolutely take leave from their job if their pet was to fall ill.

They’ll Be Ready For Any Special Occasion

two dogs dressed as a bride and groom
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Jumeirah Essex House
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Jumeirah Essex House

Many more niche services for pets have been popping up, which is great news for millennials who want to make their animals feel more included in their lives. Those who want to invite their pets to a special event, whether that be a wedding, birthday party, or prom, should initially make sure their animal does well in large groups of people and is able to relax easily.

Experts suggest working with trained dog handlers that can guide animals on how to act on the big day. They can also help with grooming, keeping pets busy, and assisting with photo opportunities.

Pets Are Prominently Included In The Holiday Season

a bulldog wearing a christmas outfit
Peter Kovalev/TASS via Getty Images
Peter Kovalev/TASS via Getty Images

RetailTouchPoints discovered that about half of millennials buy gifts for their pets every month, with an average of about four presents per month. When the holiday season comes rolling around, pet owners have thousands of gift options from retailers all over the country.

Most of the millennials who regularly buy presents for their pets were more likely to spend as much, if not more, on gifts for their pets than their friends and family. Lori Kogan, a psychologist and clinical sciences professor at Colorado State University, said, “It’s the same kind of joy you get when you bring home a gift to a small child.”

They’re Part Of The Millennial Identity

a woman taking a selfie with an alaskan malamute dog
Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Since almost three-quarters of millennials own a pet they have wound up being a large part of their lifestyle and identity. Owners often spend a lot of time and money making sure that their animal has the best possible diet, grooming, and products in their daily life.

Pets are a less expensive replacement for children, so millennials’ perception of animals has changed. They provide people with companionship and a sense of purpose, and are all the rage on social media because of it. Pet companies are able to take more risks with their products because their market widely expanded as millennials grew up.

The Steady Rise Of ‘Pet-Nups’

a dog getting pulled by two leashes
Fairfax Media/Getty Images
Fairfax Media/Getty Images

Millennials are causing the divorce rates in the United States to drop because they are waiting to get married. This doesn’t mean that it’s getting any easier for the pets.

The New York Post recently reported that custody disputes over pets have become increasingly common in divorce settlements. It can be difficult deciding what happens to the family pet during a divorce, so it led to the creation of a prenuptial agreement called a “pet-nup.” Since people spend on average $1,285 on their pets per year, they need to make sure they have extra security and protection if something were to go wrong with their marriage.