Are Americans too attached to their pets?

Young adults appear particularly likely to prioritize their pets as if they were human family members. While income is generally a good predictor of spending on pets, this isn’t the case among the younger generation. Unlike middle-aged and older adults, for Americans under the age of 30, limited financial resources do not reduce the likelihood of buying premium pet food. Corporate America is beginning to understand and capitalize on how young adults view their pets. Some employers looking to attract young talent offer pet insurance and pet-daycare services, or allow workers to bring their dogs to the office. Some companies even provide employees “pawternity” leave to allow them to spend time bonding and adjusting to life with a new pet.

More and more, pets are at the center of the major life decisions that were once driven largely by marriage and family. A 2017 survey found that 33 percent of first-time home-buying Millennials say that finding a better space or yard for their dogs influenced their decision to buy a home, while only 25 percent cited marriage or plans for marriage and only 19 percent cited the birth or expected birth of child. The only two motives for home ownership that topped wanting better space for dogs were the desire for more living space and the opportunity to build equity. 42 percent of Millennials who have yet to buy a home reported that having or wanting a dog is a key factor in their future home-buying plans.