Annual spending data released by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) indicates that overall spending in the pet industry grew 5.4% from $43.2 billion in 2008 to a little over $45.5 billion in 2009. In compiling its report, APPA collected data connected with spending on pet food, supplies, veterinary care, live animal purchases and other services such as grooming, boarding, and pet sitting.

While few industries can claim immunity from the recession, some data suggests the pet industry may be one that has remained so. The U.S. Census Bureau study of the retail segment of the economy showed 2009 down overall versus 2008, but the pet industry itself remained up yet again. Furthermore, the pet industry is one of the fastest growing, with a projected 4.9% increase in spending to $47.74 billion in 2010.

Pet supplies and over-the-counter medications showed steady growth of about 4% for 2009, and the 2009 holiday selling season was also up slightly (roughly 5%) from 2008, closely reflecting overall industry growth.

In a press release, APPA president Bob Vetere says that consumers’ ability to personify pets is virtually eliminating the gap in quality of life between humans and their pet companions, suggesting consumers will continue to purchase higher quality pet products.

“These higher quality products and services combined with a strong consumer focus on their pets’ well-being, make health and wellness the most powerful trend in 2009 across the entire pet industry,” says Vetere. “We feel our pets give us so much it is no longer enough to simply give them a treat. We want to keep our pets healthier, longer, and are willing to spend what it takes to make it happen.”

When considering the pet industry exceeded 2009 forecasts in every category including overall spending, APPA expects continued growth for 2010.

“People become more attached to their pets in times of uncertainty and stress so we continue to reward them for their unconditional love and companionship,” says Vetere. “While the pet industry has appeared resilient during the recession, I believe the industry will get a boost even above its current performance as the economy recovers and pet owners become among the first to return to previous spending patterns in an effort to make up for the times they have not been able to buy all of the items they have wanted for their pets.”