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Pets don't feel the bite of down economy

Tuesday - 6/25/2013, 2:51pm  ET

cat, arlo
If you're like 75 percent of U.S. households, you probably own a pet. (WTOP/Lacey Mason)
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WASHINGTON - While pet owners may suffer from economic times, their pets sure aren't.

There are 218 million pets in the U.S. - not counting fish - and, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, their owners spent $61.4 billion on them in 2011.

Seventy-five percent of U.S. households have pets.

The new report says that means the average household spent more than $500. The spending on pets remained consistent from 2007 through 2011, the report finds.

For comparison, the average $500 a year spent on pets was more than households spent on alcohol ($456) or clothing for men or boys ($404).

On top of that, this spending wasn't just on pet food. The average household spent about $183 on pet food in 2011 and $143 on vet services.

Out of total spending since 2007, the percentage of money spent on pets relative to total income has remained mostly consistent. In comparison, spending on dining-out dropped.

Here's some more information on pet spending from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • In 2011, households spent more on their pets annually than they spent on residential landline phone bills ($381).

  • The $183 spent on pet food was more than homes spent on chicken ($124) or cereal ($175). And it was more than was spent on bread ($107) or candy ($87) in 2011.

  • Spending on pet food stayed constant during the recession, while homeowners ate out at restaurants less.

  • Married couples without kids at home spent the most on their pets.

  • Homeowners spent almost three times as much on pets as renters did.

Read the full report:

Pet spending recession-proof?

WTOP's David Burd contributed to this report. Follow @DavidBurdWTOP, @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

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