How much do you spend on your pet? Americans shell out billions each year

CLEVELAND - Pets are priceless to their human parents. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that we spend big bucks on our dogs and cats. 

In fact, BusinessWeek magazine reported we spend more than $41 billion every year on our furry family members.

"My golden retriever Bailey costs well over $1,000 a year," calculated Amanda Ross.

About 63 percent of U.S. households, or 71 million homes, now own at least one pet -- up from 64 million just five years ago. So how are we spending our dough on dogs and cash for cats? Noisy toys, special clothing, doggie spas and massage therapy are the special extras for Fido or Fluffy.

But what is the average cost to just care for a pet in the first year of ownership? According to the ASPCA, would you believe more than $1,300 for a small dog and up to $1,800 for a large breed? The chart on the ASPCA's website breaks down where the dollars go.

Consumer Reports research indicated the annual cost in subsequent years is roughly $640. One of those expenses includes medication to prevent flea and ticks.

"I ended up spending $10,000 of my savings," Jan Jaffe said.

Before you spend another penny on the powders, drops and collars, be sure to tune in for our special consumer investigation tonight on NewsChannel5 at 11. "Pets and Pesticides" will reveal why more than 34,000 pet owners have filed complaints about these medications in just the last 14 months.

"Who is there to protect us?" Jaffe questioned.

We're On Your Side digging through hundreds of government documents and database. We'll show you what you need to know before using a flea or tick product.

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Join the conversation about this story on Twitter by using the hashtag #WEWSpets . Connect with Jenn Strathman on Twitter ( @JennStrathman ) and on Facebook ( facebook.com/JennStrathman ).

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