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ANIMAL SPIRITS

This is the stuff Americans are dropping a lot more money on

A picture of a dog sticking out its tongue.
Reuters/Marcos Brindicci
A cute thing to spend on.
  • Dan Kopf
By Dan Kopf

Data editor

Americans are increasingly spending handsomely on the health of their pets.

From 2015 to 2019, vet services were the fastest growing discretionary spending category for Americans, according to recently released data from the US government’s Consumer Expenditure Survey. The data show that the average American household spent about $250 on veterinary services in 2019, up from an estimate of less than $150 in 2015. The numbers are based on responses from 7,000 households about their spending in 2019, and do not reflect any changes to consumption that might have occurred because of the coronavirus.

Overall expenses for pets, including food and other supplies, were about $680 in 2019. The demographer Cheryl Russel points out that pets recently surpassed cable and satellite TV expenditures as Americans’ number one entertainment cost. Other fast rising categories include phones, vitamins, carbonated drinks (not including “cola”), and bottled water.

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