The pet food and supplies market is a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States. In fact, it is estimated that total pet industry spending will be $62.75 billion in 2016. Clearly, we Americans adore our furry, feathered and finned friends and want the very best for animal companions.
While humans have lived and worked with domesticated animals for millennia, specialized pet products and foods are relatively recent inventions. Here’s a look at the history of retail pet supplies.
Did you know the precursor to pet stores in the United States was bird stores? These stores were actually bird shops that sold songbirds and canaries, as these animals provided music before the invention of the record players, radio or television. Curiously, the popularity of birds as pets declined as entertainment devices became more commonplace.
Did you know the invention of the first commercial dog biscuit is credited to American electrician James Spratt? Mr. Spratt was living in London in the 1850s and noticed a ship’s deckhands throwing leftover hardtack to local dogs. Mr. Spratt got the idea to create a specialty dog treat that was a blend of wheat flour, meat and vegetables. The biscuits were a huge hit, making Mr. Spratt a wealthy man and spawning many imitators.
Did you know canned pet food got its start in the 1920s but practically disappeared from store shelves during World War II? Ken-L-Ration introduced canned dog food in 1922, and Gaines started selling canned dog and cat food in the 1930s. However, the war effort meant that the tin used to make cans was rationed, so consumers switched to dry kibble for feeding their pets.
Did you know industry experts believe that an aging pet population is at least partly responsible for the increase in pet-related spending? The 2015–16 Packaged Facts Pet Owner Survey indicates that 45 percent of dog owners who participated in the survey have a dog that is at least 7 years old. 46 percent of the cat owners who responded have a feline in the oldest age bracket. Another factor in increased costs is pet obesity: 54 percent of cats and dogs in the United States are classified as obese.