Unit Nine: Careers in Animal Care
Lesson Overview

According to the APPA, the American Pet Products Association, revenue for the pet care industry in the U.S. was estimated at 72.56 billion in 2018, an increase of more than 4% over last year's figures.  The last few years have seen about 2-3 billion dollars a year increase since 1994, so this represents double the growth of recent years.


Analyzing the Pet Care Industry


It's estimated that 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the United States. Approximately 37-47% of all households in the United States have a dog, and 30-37% have a cat.   According to the WHO, the World Health Organization, dogs make up ten percent of the world's population.


"As of 2015, 65% of households in the US own at least one pet, and the pet industry is made up of the products and services that keep these pets alive, healthy and happy – food, toys, daycare, training, beds, cages, medical services and a lot more." (The pet care industry analysis website.)


Pets are often considered members of the family, and in many cases, they are well taken care of, even in situations of financial hardship.  "While pets are found in households of all economic levels, high-income households account for about 60% of the total spending."


Large corporations such as Petsmart and Petco are the most well-recognized businesses, and they have 53,000 employees -- which means more people work for them than work for TSA (Transit Security Association at the airports). 


In addition to these large corporations, there are many smaller businesses, franchises, and sole proprietorships.  Everything from dog walkers, pet sitters, dog groomers, trainers, holistic healers, doggie day-care and many other services.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, above average job growth is expected for the industry – 11% growth between 2014 and 2024.  There are very few industries with this level of growth.


According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), revenue in the pet industry on average has been experiencing an annual growth rate since 2002 of  3-5%, and revenue has been growing steadily for well over 20 years.  "There are a number of trends supporting strong growth in the industry and they show no signs of slowing down." (APPA)

Pet food is the largest spending segment, followed by veterinary care. Within each segment, however, there is quite a degree of variability in the type, quality, and price of goods and services.  

Revenue by Segment for 2016 (estimated)

Food:                                          $24.01 billion

Supplies/OTC Medicine:           $14.98 billion


Veterinary Care:                       $15.92 billion


Live animal purchases             $2.11 billion


Pet services:                               $5.73 billion

    grooming & boarding



                                                     Source: APPA


Trends:  Humanization

"Many types of pets have long been considered part of the family, but in recent years that has started to translate to actually treating pets more like people – a trend called “humanization.” Pet owners are seeking out higher quality foods, more high-end accessories, and more expensive medical treatments. Largely gone are the days of “outside dogs” that just “see to themselves.”

Trends: Premiumization

"Premiumization is the creation of higher-end or specialty products and services to cater to these elevated requirements for our pets. Organic and natural treats and foods, high-tech medical therapies and medicines, holistic treatments, luxury services, and even spas – nothing is too good! Businesses that cater to these niche products and services are booming!"

Health Benefits of Pet Companionship

Another driving force is a greater appreciation – based on scientific research – of the bond between people and their pets. According to the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation (HABRI), “People are happier and healthier in the presence of animals.  Scientifically-documented benefits… include decreased blood pressure, reduced anxiety, and enhanced feelings of well-being.”  Some studies estimate that owning a dog adds ten years to the human life-span, and leads to a healthier quality of life.

Though the results are preliminary, a HABRI study has indicated a potential $11.7 billion savings a year to the US healthcare system that can be tied to pet ownership."


"Current US demographic trends also favor continued industry strength based on two groups: baby boomers and millennials.  Baby boomers are launching their real kids into the wild and replacing them with pets - and they are pampering them. In almost all spending categories, spending declines once a person reaches 55 years of age – but pet spending is peaking between the ages of 55 and 64!


Millennials – people born between 1985-2010 – are probably the first generation to grow up thinking of pets more like humans than animals. They are finding their independence and have disposable income – and they are buying pets and spoiling them. "It's great for the industry – these folks will be loyal customers for decades." (Pet Care Franchise analysis).




"Pet industry revenue has shown growth even during times of economic trouble, including the recent Great Recession, so it only makes sense that our current relative economic strength bodes well for continued industry strength."


Career Paths in the Pet Care Industry


"Veterinary technology is among the top five fastest-growing occupations nationwide, with employment in the field expected to grow 41% in the next nine years." The University of Hawaii. 

Some rapidly growing employment opportunities are:

Vet Tech & Vet Assistance

Animal Assisted Therapy

Service Animal Training

Companion Dog Training

Medical Alert Dog Training

Law Enforcement Canine Training

Human-Animal Communication

Animal Hygiene & Nutrition

Cancer Detection Training

Grief and Bereavement Counseling

Dog Walking

Pet Grooming

Doggie Day Care Workers

Animal Hospice

Animal Massage

Alternative & Complementary Modalities


"Veterinary technology is among the top five fastest-growing occupations nationwide, with employment in the field expected to grow 41% in the next nine years.  The nationwide shortage of skilled veterinary office personnel has been widely discussed in academic and trade journals and has received attention in the national media." (US News and World Report).


According to the American Veterinary Association,  there is a tremendous shortage of vet techs to assist veterinarians. 


U.S. Veterinarians in Private Practice      64,489

U.S. Veterinarians                                     102,744

     (corporate, Government, Law Enforcement, etc)     


Animal Assisted Activity



Senior Facility


Work Place



The Need for Trainers for Service Dogs and Therapy Animals.

The Need for Training for Emotional Support, Companion Animals, Animal Assisted Therapy, Medical Alert Dogs…Autism Assistance dogs are incalculable.


In many cases, there is a five-year waiting list for trained service dogs.

Average Waiting List:  1,600

Average Wait for a Service Dog:  FIVE YEARS

Average Cost: $15,000 – 35,000

Capt. Luis Carlos Montalvan, US Army Retired with his service dog, Tuesday.

New Trends:

Mobil Veterinarians

are increasing and

need Vet Techs

Mobil veterinarians can often perform full service

and even basic surgery.

Pet Hospice &

Vet Assisted Home Euthanisia


The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care

Has experienced a 200 % growth

in the last five years.


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