"Americans spent more on pets in 2018 than on fresh fruit and vegetables, alcohol, beef, pork and poultry, water and other public services or medicinal drugs." (PetFoodIndustry, 2019)
<aside> ⚠️ We recognize there are many different types of pets, but for this page, we are only discussing dog and cat food.
38% of European households (88 million) and 67% of American (85 million) own at least one pet.
Source: GFK 2020
America really loves its pets. In 2019, 85 million American pet owners spent over $97 billion; by 2021, that number was up to $123.6 billion. This spending has been driven by a surge in pet ownership during the pandemic and what has been dubbed “pet humanization,” where pets are seen as (and treated like) family members.
Behind veterinary care, food is the largest spending category for pet owners. One of the biggest trends in pet food is human-grade food for our furry family members. Unfortunately, this desire to have our pets eat as well as we do has contributed to the rise in the environmental impact of pet food.
The 163 million or so dogs and cats in the US consume as much “[dietary energy](https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0181301#:~:text=As calculated%2C US dogs and cats consume as much dietary energy as ~62 million Americans%2C which is approximately one-fifth of the US population.)” as about 62 million Americans. Yet, their diets are not typically included in national food consumption calculations. Pet food in the US alone is estimated to be responsible for 25-30% of the environmental impact of livestock production, or roughly 64 million tonnes of CO2e annually.
Most commercial pet foods are made of animal by-products that have little or no value in the human food market, but as more pet owners are shifting towards premium products, we see more significant environmental impacts. The trend of humanizing pets has people is increasing the emissions associated with pet food, putting it in direct competition with human food, and could lead to heavier production and further land use change down the line.
<aside> ⚠️ Premium dog and cat foods have 2.3–3.3 (respectively) times higher emissions than market-leading brands.
Source: Alexander et al., 2020 (ABP = animal by-product)
There are slight differences between different types of pet food. Wet food, for instance, has been found to have a [higher environmental footprint](https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-22631-0#:~:text=If a 10,can be extensive.) than dry.