They’ve long been referred to as man’s best friend, and now new research from Mintel reveals that no one loves their mutt quite as much as American men. Today, some seven in 10 (71%) younger men aged 18-44 own a dog compared to just three in five (60%) of their female counterparts.

Mintel research on US pet ownership reveals that while the majority (67%) of Americans own a pet, dogs are the nation’s number one furry companion with half (50%) of all Americans owning a dog. This rises to 52% of all US men, compared to 49% of women. Older Millennials in particular make up a large portion of the nation’s dog lovers as three quarters (75%) of consumers aged 30-39 own a dog.

While pups are top dog in US households, one third (35%) of Americans own a cat. As with dogs, men (37%) are more likely to own a feline friend than women (33%), with ownership peaking among Millennials (46%).

“While pet ownership over the last few years has remained near half of all Americans, our research indicates that dog ownership is elevated among younger men. As pets are seen more and more as companions and family members, Americans are taking additional steps to ensure their health and happiness, and are spending more in the process,” said Rebecca Cullen, Associate Analyst, Health, Household, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel.

70% of dog owners own a dog that is within the adult or senior age range

Mintel research indicates that the senior pet market in particular presents opportunities for increased spend and product differentiation. Some seven in 10 (70%) dog owners own a dog that is within the adult or senior age range, with age appropriate pet supplies a top priority for many. In fact, more than half (54%) of pet owners agree that it is important for their pet to be comfortable in their advanced age, with the majority saying that their pet eats food (57%) and treats (46%) that are age appropriate.

With at least half of these pet owners taking steps to improve their pet’s quality of life, an additional one quarter (23%) say they’d pay for medical procedures to extend the life of their pet no matter what the cost. Nevertheless, there is ample room to increase participation among the 18% of pet owners who say that they do not worry about their pet’s age-related issues, as they likely do not purchase health- or age-focused products.

“Similar to the US population, pet family members are aging and living longer due to improvements in veterinary care and an overall better understanding of a pet’s medical and nutritional needs. The aging pet population creates new market opportunities and will increase demand for products that target issues and age-related conditions including joint, coronary, cognitive, and immune-system related concerns, such as diabetes and cancer,” continued Cullen.

Americans spent $11 billion to pamper their pets in 2015

America’s love of pets is highlighted by spending on pet supplies*, and last year, Americans spent an incredible $11 billion to pamper their pets. The pet supplies category has seen moderate growth in recent years, increasing 18% from 2011-16. Over the past five years, the largest gains were seen 2012-13, likely due to an improving economy and the pet humanization trend.

In 2015, the top three pet purchases made by US pet owners were toys (61%), leashes, collars and harnesses (40%) and rawhide and chews (39%). One third (33%) of pet owners pampered their pets with pet furniture and 17% indulged in pet costumes; meanwhile one in ten (10%) pet owners splashed out on a pet stroller.

“The pet supplies category continues along a steady growth trajectory as Americans increasingly spoil their pets, which are viewed as loyal family members rather than owned animals. Looking ahead, the category is expected to grow as the pet population ages, creating opportunities for products designed to address common issues that arise among older pets,” concluded Cullen.

*non dog/cat supplies, other dog/cat supplies, litter & deodorant, rawhide dog chews

Press review copies of Mintel’s Pet Supplies US 2016 report and interviews with Associate Analyst, Health, Household, Beauty & Personal Care Rebecca Cullen are available on request from the press office.

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