Even if you don't exactly consider your pet to be your "child", experts say many people are as dedicated to their animals as parents are to children . . . and will sacrifice themselves before trimming back on four-legged friends. It's expected that Americans will spend $43.4 billion this year on their pets – although that's down from the original prediction, pet pampering doesn't show many signs of slowing down. Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy says:

It's definitely more resilient than most categories tied to discretionary spending. It's one of the last categories (people) cut out of their budget.

I couldn't agree more as my weekend trip to Petco found me picking up a bag of gourmet treats for my lil guy in addition to a 20-lb. bag of dog food – while I'm not willing to downgrade my pups' food, I am trying to buy in bulk to save some money. Is the analyst's statement true for you, too?

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