Pay a visit to any pet store or veterinarian's office and you'll see it's clear people really love their pets -- and they aren't shy about showing that love financially. Doggie day care, luxury grooming services, pet portraits, manicures, massage, pet psychics and psychologists -- you name it. If there's an angle in the pet care industry that hasn't been covered at this point, start doing it yourself and you'll be swimming in money before you know it.
The National Pet Owners Survey claims that in 2007, 63 percent of all households in the United States had at least one pet -- that's more than 70 million homes. Not surprisingly, dogs and cats lead the charge. There are 74 million dogs in 44 million homes. There are even more cats -- 88 million of them -- but in a fewer number of houses -- 38 million. (Crazy cat lady, we're looking in your direction.) The total pet care industry yielded a whopping $41 billion in 2007, and projections for 2008 are a couple of billion more than that. The most money was spent on food, at $16 billion, but veterinary care was a close second at $10.1 billion.
If these numbers are startling, they shouldn't be. Pets are like family members to many people, and what parent wouldn't spend whatever money they needed to keep his or her child happy and healthy? And like kids, there are a variety of things that can happen to your pet to merit a trip to the doctor. The $10.1 billion that Americans spend each year goes toward everything from checkups to emergency surgeries. One part of the grand total comes from your pet's immunizations. Any responsible pet owner gets the basics for his or her dog or cat. These are known as the core vaccines. For dogs, this includes shots for parvo, distemper, hepatitis and rabies. Cats generally get shots for distemper, leukemia, rabies and the viral diseases rhinotracheitis and calicivirus.
There's growing concern that some pets are over-vaccinated, so it's up to the pet owner to do the research, speak with the veterinarian and determine which shots the pet needs. There's also a vaccination for a bacterial illness called Bordetella that protects your pet from something called kennel cough. We'll explain exactly what Bordetella is and whether your pet may need the shot on the following pages.