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Pets Often Come First Even In A Bad Economy

Updated on October 8, 2015
Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob has been in the pet supply business and writing about pets, livestock and wildlife in a career that spans three decades.


Many Owners Make Sacrifices So Their Dogs Won't Have To

We might just have to re-think some of the negative old sayings that refer to dogs. Old saws such as “a dog’s life” or “treating someone like a dog,” for instance.

Nowadays, a dog’s life isn’t all that bad, and being treated like a dog can be as good as being treated like a member of the family…and better than some of the in-laws!

We’re in a tough economy, one in which people are cutting back and making do. And that includes pet owners.

Boomer’s collar may be ratty, but it’s still in one piece so it will have to do. And, he’ll have to make do with his old toys because the kids need school clothes right now.

The American Kennel Club (AKC), a few years ago did an online survey asking respondents what they’d be willing to cut back on or outright give up, for their dogs’ benefit.

They got over a thousand responses and, to me, there were few surprises.

You probably won’t be surprised by some of the results, either, because you’d probably be willing to make most of the same sacrifices for your dog.

Many of the sacrifices involve what could be termed “luxury” items that many would eliminate in a tough economy anyway.


First off, gourmet coffee takes a hit as 96% said they’d give it up to pay for some extras for their dogs. In a quid pro quo, 97% said they’d give up massages or spa treatments in order to pay the veterinarian, 79% said they’d cancel a teeth-whitening appointment to have the dog’s teeth cleaned, and 67% would cancel travel plans if they couldn’t afford boarding fees for the dog.

In a really brave quid quo pro, 65% would regularly eat ramen noodles before they’d skimp on their dog’s high-quality food, while 59% would perm or color their own hair rather than give up their dog’s appointment at the groomer. If I had hair, I’d make the same promise.

The survey also found that 69% would cut back on gifts for their friends or extended family, and 9%, who apparently like to live dangerously, said they’d cut back on gifts for their spouses before skimping on gifts for their dogs.

Restaurants took a big hit too, as 97% said they’d eat more meals at home. 72% would cancel their gym memberships, 94% would buy fewer new clothes, 89% would hold off on home remodeling, and 88% would delay buying a new car or hold off buying one altogether.

The most reluctant group is the cable and satellite subscribers. Only 50% would cancel their subscriptions. That’s where I’d draw the line, too. Sorry Fluffy, but if it comes down to you or The National Geographic Channel…I’m sure you understand.

The AKC partners with a pet health insurer and they reported that sales were holding up and owners were renewing their policies in consistently high numbers.

The belief is that the insurance is another way to manage a pet’s healthcare costs.

They survey also indicated that 52% would look for sales or clip coupons before shopping for pet products, 48% would cut back a bit on toys and treats, and 34% have already begun to buy dog food in bulk.

That last item concerns me a bit. You shouldn’t buy more dry food than your dog can eat in 90 days, which is about the shelf-life of a naturally preserved dry food once it’s been opened…even if you keep it in an airtight container.

The food won’t necessarily go bad after 90 days, but the nutrients will start to deplete.

About the only item that gave dogs a run for their money, as far as their owners’ priorities were concerned, was the Internet. 70% of those polled indicated that they just wouldn’t be able to disconnect.

While this survey concerned only dogs, I’ve seen other surveys that cover pets in general, and the results were about the same.

Pets, for the most part, enjoy “full family-member” status and a bad economy isn’t going to change that a heck of a lot.

How Are Your Pets Making Out In This Bad Economy?

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    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 5 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Glad you liked it, wetnosedogs, thanks for stopping by. It is nice to know that, for the most part, people are willing to sacrifice a little so that their pets won't have to. The sacrifices aren't extreme, though, so most people will hardly notice. Nice chatting with you. Regards, Bob

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 5 years ago from Alabama

      This is an awesome article. Glad to read people care so much for their pets to give up a thing or two. They are family.