Upscale Pet Foods Proliferated in the Pandemic—Now They’re Plunging Owners Into Debt

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Upscale Pet Foods Proliferated in the Pandemic—Now They're Plunging Owners Into Debt

One of the more colorful features of pandemic life is the renewed importance that consumers are placing on dogs and cats.

Given the abundance of emotional support that pets offer, it is no coincidence that Americans wanted to reward these worthy companions with toys, treats, and a growing number of quality pet foods. As Adweek reported in August, the brands of dog food in “human quality” continue to multiply. Newcomers like Hungry Bark and Sundays for Dogs are joining slightly more established brands including The Farmer’s Dog, Ollie, and NomNomNom, Inc.

However, treating pets like humans can be more expensive than many thought, at least according to recently published research from LendingTree. Last month, the mortgage broker surveyed 2,000 pet owners and found that 47% of them – more than one in three Americans – owed their pet companions. This number represents a significant increase from the 36% in this financial situation last year.

While there are a multitude of costs associated with owning a pet – from grooming to walking to visits to the vet – it’s clear that groceries (especially the types of designer foods that are being enjoyed for a moment) make one Household budgets make up a significant portion of the cost. Americans are projected to lose $ 99 billion on their pets this year, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). And while veterinary care makes up a large chunk of that ($ 29.3 billion), food took the biggest bite of them all, at nearly $ 37 million.

In February, APPA announced that Americans’ surprisingly high spending on pet food is being driven by products like toppers (products added to traditional foods to improve nutrition and taste). The organization added that “the increase in subscription pet food delivery programs also contributed to the success of this category”.

Data compiled by Atlas five years ago showed that the average boxed pet food was $ 2.28 a pound, while premium food was $ 3.66 a pound for organic food and $ 12.08 for raw food trendier (and more expensive) were significantly more expensive. Earlier this year, a veterinarian in Boulder, Colorado calculated that feeding her medium-sized dog a raw diet was $ 90 a month.

Overall, LendingTree’s survey found that 34% of owners say they will spend more on their pets during the pandemic.

While it’s easy to assume that Generation Z owners are the ones most likely to get into debt over indulgences like pet clothes and freshly delivered fare, it is actually Gen X that gets into trouble the most here. A surprising 66% of Gen Xs admitted they went into debt over a pet, with Millennials not far behind at 48%. Gen Z and the Boomers had the lowest incidences of red ink against pets at 40% and 23%, respectively.

Despite the obvious tax obligations of keeping a cat or dog well dressed and fed, owners don’t seem to regret the obligation. LendingTree’s survey found that nearly half of owners are currently considering a second pet.