Economic Facts About Dogs

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Apr 15, 2010    •    791 Views

Have you ever thought about the connection between your dog and the economy? During an interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air”, Michael Schaffer, author of One Nation Under Dog, spoke about dogs’ lives. A lot of his stories relate to the onset of two career families:

  • In 2 worker households, dogs were increasingly left alone during the day and began to experience separation anxiety. The solution was an antidepressant.
  • According to Schaffer, pet antidepressants are beef flavored. Otherwise, they are chemically identical to human antidepressants.
  • Pet related goods and services are a part of a $43 billion industry.
  • Two career families typically need dog walkers. There are dog walking certification organizations. 
  • Manhattan has pet taxi drivers.
  • Pet grooming has become a major industry. Shaffer hypothesizes that the growth began when pets started sleeping with us instead of in the doghouse in the back yard. 
  • Dogs’ names have changed.  Decades ago, a dog might have been named Fido. Now the dog is Frank.
  • The pet hotel business is growing. (Shaffer visited the Wag Hotel in San Francisco.)
  • According to a recent Economist article, increasing numbers of pets have been abandoned because of the impact of the recession

The Economic Life

According to the Department of Labor, 90% of our spending typically is for “food, housing, apparel and services, transportation, healthcare, entertainment, and personal insurance and pensions.” I was not able to find a pets category.




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