By LYNNE CONLAN
Executive Director, Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce
It appears our love has a big price tag attached to it. In 2017, it’s estimated by the American Pet Products Association that pet expenditures in the United States reached over $69 billion – that’s billion with a capital “B.”
Here’s how that breaks down: Almost $30 billion for food; $15 billion for supplies and medicine; $17 billion for vet care; and $2 billion in actual pet purchases, plus another $6 billion for miscellaneous items.
Sixty-eight percent of households in the United States own a pet — more than 84 million homes. As you’d expect, cats and dogs make up the majority of those pets, with cats leading the way at 94 million versus 89 million dogs.
Cats may be winning the race because it costs less money to take care of Fluffy than it does Rover. Everything is more expensive when it happens to your dog: from vet visits to food, boarding to vitamins. Grooming and toys are more expensive for dogs, as well.
The grooming part’s not surprising. But what is surprising is that anyone would attempt to groom a cat on a regular basis. That’s sheer madness in my book. And toys? Cats don’t need toys — they need boxes…and toilet paper and anything they can find in your dresser drawer.
My two rescue kittens are going through a jewelry stage — if it’s jewelry, it’s theirs. I’ve tried hiding everything in a jewelry box, but there’s that magic cat word again: box. Every box is theirs, too. Bye-bye, jewelry.
So why do we spare no expense for our fur babies? Besides the joy of pet ownership, there are numerous health benefits, as well. They range from improved heart health, lower blood pressure and a reduction in anxiety. Simply stroking a pet can lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to a calmer approach to life.
If you own a fur baby, you’re also less likely to suffer from clinical depression. And in some cases, dogs can even help you get dates. If you’ve never tried it, I’ll give you some tips another time.
Pets help with your well-being, so what about theirs? We have chamber members who can help you out in that area.
Blackie feeling a little under the weather? Try one of our member veterinarians: Fox & Friends Animal Hospital, 1024 Cypress Creek Village Blvd., Ruskin, and Ruskin Animal Hospital, 715 U.S. 41 S., Ruskin.
Need pet sitting, walking or boarding? Give Sharon Roberts at All About Paws a call. Looking to adopt? The staff at the Critter Adoption and Rescue Effort no-kill shelter in Ruskin are our experts in rescue and adoption of both cat and dogs.
Advice on why your cat thinks you are her slave? Feline Folks is all over that one, since their specialty is placing rescued cats and kittens into their fur-ever homes.
Dogs and cats — we’ll just have to keep loving them and ignore their price tag.
I’m not an expert about any other type of pet. I had two ducks for a day. They left my house quickly after my dad came home to find them swimming in his bathtub. Got some baby chicks for Easter several times. Had them for a while until they both grew up to be roosters. After they woke the family up a couple of days at zero dark thirty, I never saw them again.
And I don’t have a clue about fish. Got one in my office but he was here before I was hired, so I guess I’ll just respect his squatter’s rights. But he’s doing absolutely nothing to keep my blood pressure in check!