Man’s (Rich) Best Friend: Despite Weak Economy, Spending on Pets Increases

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A survey shows Americans care more for their pets, even in the face of financial hardship.

The poll, by the American Pet Product Association (APPA), a nonprofit that tracks the industry, reveals some curious numbers.

Pet owners will spend $12.2 billion at the vet in 2011, up from $11 billion last year. Plus, 16% of dog owners and 13% of cat owners reported to give priority to medical treatments of their pets rather than their own. Aside from vet bills, Americans spend a whopping amount of money of dog gifts — $56 million just last year — and figures are up 30% from last year.

(More on TIME.com: See why more than half of America’s pets are overweight)

“Although the economy has been a major factor for many industries, the pet industry continues to see unprecedented growth,” APPA president Bob Vetere told Reuters.

There might an explanation to this phenomenon, at least in NewsFeed’s mind. It’s well-documented that pets can decrease stress. So how can you stay angry when a kitten purrs or a puppy looks at you like you are the one and only source of  happiness his life? You just can’t. So it’s possible that, in a period of increased external stressors, people would be more likely to care more of their source of relief.

No matter the true cause for the uptick in spending, we’re sure man’s best friend is happy about it. (via Reuters)

(More on TIME.com: See a $8,000 dog bed in France)

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