British dog owners spend a total £10.64bn a year on their pets, American Express reveals

British dog owners estimate they spend an average of £1,252 annually on their pet, equating to over £10.64bn across the country as a whole according to research from American Express.

Some of the principal beneficiaries of the rise in spending have been the small businesses that have sprung up to cater for the rising demand.

From those who have taken to organising dog birthday parties, holding puppy training classes and “pawlates” – Pilates for dogs – through to traditional services such as vets and grooming, the national obsession with “man’s best friend” has created a new canine economy.

Indeed, over half (62%) of the nation’s dog owners interviewed said they use small independent businesses when shopping for their pets. The most popular reasons include quality of service (46%) and the fact that the shop keeper knows their pet and can find the best product for them (25%).

Furthermore, 26% of long-term dog owners say they spend more money on their pets now than they did five years ago, and a quarter (25%) are happy to make a special journey to buy something from their favourite shop.

As the nation counts down to Small Business Saturday on 3rd December, American Express as principal supporter is shining a light on some of the small businesses that are helping to maintain the happiness of the nation’s pets.

Alice Noone, vice president marketing at American Express said: “As a champion of small businesses we recognise their importance to the health of the local economy. However, this research also highlights the role these small, independent shops play in maintaining the health and happiness of our family pets. We hope to encourage dog lovers to lend their support and shop small on 3rd December and beyond.”

The beneficiaries of the canine economy

American Express commissioned photographer Mike Buck to document the strength of the pooch pound across the UK by visiting a number of the small businesses that have grown up to cater for the diverse needs of British pet owners.

One of the businesses seeing growth as a result of the boom includes The Sudbury Dog Company based in Suffolk. The business was started in 2012 and while it originally started offering dog training and pet supplies, it has since branched out to offer a range of services including dog birthday parties.

Owner, Genevieve Parsons says: “We are a family run business with the welfare of dogs at its heart and we offer a number of services that help dogs to be happy, confident and sociable – from puppy socialisation classes and training to dog birthday parties. As a small business, we have the opportunity to be nimble and offer programmes which really make a difference to pets and their owners’ lives – so it’s fantastic to be involved in a campaign which celebrates that.”

Another of the small businesses that has seen success is Hair of the Dog London based in Highgate, which is a specialist grooming salon and concept boutique. The business offers a wide range of services from a hand stripping service, a full groom, wash & dry or a nail clipping only service; alongside a dog day care and a unique pet portraiture commission service.

Manager, Holly Johnson, said: “One of the benefits of being a small business is that we can talk to our customers on a daily basis, ensuring that we’re constantly up to date with what they need so we can offer the best service and products for happy, healthy pets. We’re also able to source unique products which aren’t readily available on the high street, giving local pet owners a reason to come to us. As a result, we have a built a very loyal customer base over the years – those who have been with us since launching in 2010 and those who have joined since.”

How the spend breaks down

Breaking down the overall spend, the research found that, on average, dog owners spent £393.48 a year on dog food – the biggest single cost. The other necessary expenditure was on insurance (£243.24 a year) and their dog’s health (vet bills and medicines coming in at an average £73.33 annually).

That means that the remaining £541.46 spent on average per pooch annually is discretionary. Those costs include toys, professional grooming, kennels, clothing and accessories.

Spend Average cost
Toys and Treats £183.96
Grooming (shampoo, trimming fur massage etc.) £177.84
Exercise – dog walkers £122.16
Accommodation – kennels or day care £31.17
Clothing/Accessories and bedding £26.33

Dogs are also the most likely to be treated by their owners with 45% regularly buying gifts for their furry friends. Owners also love to keep their pooches looking their best all year around, with one in 10 of dog owners (10%) ensuring their dogs are groomed at least once a week. And when it comes to birthdays, 35% of owners will buy their pup a birthday cake and 59% will get them a gift.