Written By Erin Rooney – VP of Business Development and Corporate Partnerships for AmeriVet Veterinary Partners and a member of Forbes Business Development Council.

Though recent news reports lament the decrease in birth rate, the gap once filled by 2.5 children may now be occupied by a Bella, Max or Kitty of the four-legged variety. Pet ownership rates are holding steady in the U.S., and the care that “fur babies” receive rivals that of their humans.

According to the American Pet Products Association, spending on pets reached an all-time high of $72.56 billion in 2018. This represents an annual increase over nearly 20 years with no end in sight. Consumer demand for high-quality, organic and boutique pet products for their furry companions seems to be growing, as is their demand for medical care and pampering.

Pet owners aren’t the only ones spending money on food, care and supplies. With increasing frequency, private equity (PE) and other investors are acquiring a sweet tooth for the industry.