Dog’s Life: Owners Don’t Cut Pet Spending During Tough Times

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During a worrisome, unsteady, and just plain bad economic climate, consumers change their behavior—typically by trying to spend less and save more. But when it comes to one sector of consumer spending, scaling back is more the exception than the rule. A heaping majority (68%) of dog owners say that regardless of the state of the economy, they’ll keep spending the same amount to pamper man’s (or woman’s) best friend.

In a new survey, commissioned by and conducted by Harris Interactive to coincide with one of those holiday events you probably didn’t know existed (National Dog Week), nearly 7 in 10 dog owners said that “economic ups and downs have no effect on their dog care spending.”

Could this be a situation in which dog owners say one thing but do another? After all, spending on Mother’s Day declined 10% when the economy was bad. Are dogs more recession-proof than moms?

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In fact, there have been some signs that owners are spending less on their pets. There has been a noticeable decline in fancy pet burials, with owners more inclined to opt for simpler (and cheaper) cremations when pets pass away.

But overall, pet spending has steadily kept rising over the past few years—a time in which consumers have cut back on many other expenditures, including cars, clothes, and, of course, Mother’s Day gifts. U.S. pet industry spending totaled $45.5 billion in 2009, $48.35 billion last year, and is expected to top $50 billion in 2011.

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So in this case, it appears that the sales figures match the sentiment portrayed in the survey. Most people say that, even during tough times, they keep spending the same amount to care for their dogs, and, generally speaking, it looks like their actions (i.e., expenditures) back up the claims.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.