Despite economy, pet owners still spending big on their animals

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images) (Credit: (Getty Images))

Owners of the pooches who compete in the Westminster Dog Show aren't the only Americans who spend tons of money on their pets every year.

"People who love dogs will make huge financial sacrifices for them," said Lindsay Bryson, the handler for Alvin, a champion beagle who has won three Best in Show ribbons at dog shows around the country. "Real dog lovers will put high-quality food in their dog's dish before they put it on their own table."

Not even the brutal economy since the downturn stopped people from spending tons of money on their pets. These days you can find Martha Stewart-brand dog beds ($49.99 for the "Bonequilt Snuggler" model at PetSmart.com).

And forget tasteless dry kibble; now it's all about free-range chicken and organic quinoa, like The Honest Kitchen ($69.99 for a 10-pound box).

Here are some other pet industry numbers:

-- $53B Pet industry expenditures nearly reach this annually, according to the American Pet Products Association. This number rose every year right through the Great Recession.

-- $41.2B How much pet industry expenditures rose in the last five years, equaling an almost 30% increase.

-- 46M How many American households own a dog.

-- 38.5M How many own a cat.

-- 70% Of owners surveyed by the Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. said would spend "any amount" to save a pet's life.

-- $2,500 How much dog owners spend on their four-legged friends per year, according to the American Kennel Club.

-- $655 The average amount dog owners spend per year on health care, according to an APPA survey.

-- $248 How much they spend on routine checkups.

-- $274 How much they spend on kennel boarding.

-- $254 How much they spend on food.

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