$53 Billion Spent on Pets in America, More Expensive Than Raising Children

Americans spent nearly $53 billion on pets last year, studies said, suggesting a correlation between pet companionship and loneliness. Are Americans that lonely?

Adults lacking human companionship and parents whose children have recently flown the coop could be to blame for the rising luxury of pet care products. It would appear that now, more than ever, Americans are turning to pets to heal their lonely hearts.

Americans spent almost $53 billion last year within the pet industry, a survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) revealed. It's a figure, the report confirms, that has risen steadily despite an economic recession. At the head of the cause could be Baby Boomers, the eldest of which are hitting 67.

Either these adults have turned to pets because they never had children or spouse, recently lost a spouse, or did have children and are now struggling with empty nest syndrome.

"What did they call us?" American Pet Products Association President Bob Vetere asked the Associated Press. "Helicopter parents, because we were constantly hovering over the kids. The kids left home and now we're looking to hover over something else. And so we wind up doing it over pets."

The pet industry has caught onto the trend, providing increasing luxury products that may have never been considered years ago.

"There are now about 700 funeral homes, crematories and cemeteries that cater only to pets, and it's a growth industry," The San Francisco Gate reported.

In addition to the Baby Boomers are the pet show enthusiasts who spend thousands of dollars at a time on making their cats or dogs champions of the show.

"I've heard of some owners taking out second mortgages or going bankrupt because of their dog," Lindsay Bryson, a pet show competitor who says expenses for a typical show dog run between $2,000 and $4,000 a month, told Reuters. "Most show dog owners know their financial limits -- but some don't."

Studies have estimated that the cost of raising children has also risen but on average, Americans only spent about $11,000 a year to raise one child.