The economy may have remained sluggish last year but Americans refused to scrimp on their pets, with animal lovers spending upwards of $53 billion on food, veterinary care, kennels and other services in 2012.

The economy may have remained sluggish last year but Americans refused to scrimp on their pets, with animal lovers spending upwards of $53 billion on food, veterinary care, kennels and other services in 2012.

That’s up 5 percent from 2011, when spending first broke the $50 billion barrier, says the American Pet Products Association, a trade group based in Greenwich, Conn. And APPA President and CEO Bob Vetere predicts another 4 percent gain this year.

At about $34.3 billion, food and vet care represented about two-thirds of total spending, with money spent on supplies and over-the-counter medications rising by more than 7 percent. Spending on the growing market of alternative vet care, such as acupuncture, totaled about $12.5 billion.

Vetere says spending on services like grooming, boarding, hotels and pet-sitting grew nearly 10 percent during 2012 to almost $4.4 billion.