MONEY Shopping

10 Things Millennials Buy Far More Often Than Everyone Else

For real, snakes?

Roughly a year ago, we at MONEY rounded up a fun list of 10 things millennials won’t spend money on—at least not to the same degree as older generations. Cars, cable TV, and Costco were all on the list, as were houses. A freshly released Pew Research Center study indicates that a larger-than-expected percentage of young people are still living with their parents rather than moving out and perhaps buying a place of their own.

Yes, millennials are stingy when it comes to spending in certain categories. Yet even as they aren’t following in the footsteps of their consumer forebears in terms of embracing big-ticket items like houses and cars, millennials spend far more freely on certain other items compared to older generations. Here are 10 things they buy more often—sometimes a lot more often—than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, including a few big surprises.

  • Gas Station Food

    Customers line up for their free Slurpees in a 7-Eleven store in New York
    Richard Levine—Alamy

    Millennials have been referred to as the grab-and-go generation, with 29% saying that they often purchase food and drink while on the run, compared with 19% of consumers overall. You might think that Chipotle or perhaps Starbucks would be the biggest beneficiary of this habit. But according to the NPD Group, Gen Y restaurant visits are actually on the decline, particularly among older millennials who are more likely to have families. What’s more, in terms of drawing millennial food and beverage visits, the fast-casual segment is handily beaten by an under-the-radar retail category: the gas station.

    Whereas fast-casual accounted for 6.1% of millennial food and beverage stops in 2014, NPD researchers point out that 11.4% of such visits took place at convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Wawa, Cumberland Farms, and Sheetz, where the hot to-go offerings include salads, wraps, healthy(ish) sandwiches, pizza, and wings alongside old standards like hot dogs and microwaveable burritos. Some even have espresso and smoothie bars, which is probably news to most older folks. “If you’re 50 or over, you still think the convenience store is primarily a gas station,” the NPD Group’s Harry Balzer explained to USA Today.

  • Same-Day Delivery

    FedEx Same Day delivery truck
    courtesy FedEx

    Patience is not exactly a virtue among consumers who grew up with smartphones and social media. Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow sums up this mindset as “I want what I want, when I want it,” and points to a Shop.org survey indicating that millennials have been twice as likely as other generations to pay extra for same-day delivery of online purchases.

    Earlier this year, the New York Times took note of a surge in same-day delivery, in particular among services supplying alcohol directly to the customer’s door. “It has not hurt that millennials, who are used to ordering food for delivery on their smartphones, have come of legal drinking age,” the Times noted.

  • Hot Sauce

    Sriracha bottles on shelf
    Patti McConville—Alamy

    Sriracha is everywhere. It is spicing up potato chips and croutons, adding some extra kick to Heinz ketchup, and offering a strange twist at Pizza Hut. Heck, it’s even in beer. And the overwhelming reason Sriracha is ubiquitous is that it’s evolved into the go-to condiment of the all-important millennial demographic. More than half of American households now have hot sauce on hand. Sriracha specifically is stocked in 9% of them—and in 16% of households headed by someone under age 35.

    The hot sauce craze has translated to a constantly changing roster of ultra-spicy items on fast food menus. Part of the reason that millennials prefer spicier foods is that they were exposed to different tastes at fairly young ages. “Millennials like hot, spicy foods because of their experience with more ethnic foods, like Hispanic and Asian,” said Kelly Weikel, senior consumer research manager at Technomic.

  • Snakes

    snake collar
    Luca Gavagna—Getty Images/iStockphoto

    This past spring, an odd extension for Google Chrome was desisnged to allow users to sub the phrase “snake people” in the place of “millennials” on screens. It was a fun goof that now seems like ancient history. But it turns out that millennials really are snake people, in the sense that they have more interest than other generations in buying and keeping snakes—and all reptiles—as pets.

    “This age group, 15-35 years old, is the generation that is most active in reptile keeping and searching for related material online,” Keith Morris, national sales manager for the reptile product site ZooMed.com, told Pet Age last summer. Data collected by Pet Age also indicates millennials are more willing to splurge on their pets with luxuries like custom beds: 76% said they’d be likely to splurge on pets rather than themselves, compared with just 50% of Baby Boomers. Yet another survey indicated that millennials are far more interested than Boomers and Gen Xers in pet healthcare as a job benefit. So the big takeaway is: Millennials really love pets in all shapes, sizes, and species.

  • Athleisure

    Yoga Pants
    Kirsten Dayton—Alamy

    The demographic that overwhelmingly gets the credit for yoga pants replacing jeans as the mainstream go-to casual bottom of choice (and even coming to be seen as legitimate work clothes at the office) is of course the millennial generation. Yoga pants, hoodies, sweatpants, and other leggings are lumped into the “athleisure” or “leisurewear” clothing category, which has been most warmly embraced by millennials—and in turn inspired retailers ranging from Ann Taylor to the Gap to Dick’s Sporting Goods to ramp up their selections of women’s exercise wear that’s not necessarily for exercise.

    “When I look at athleisure bottom business—the yoga pant, sweat pant, sweat short—it has displaced the jean business one to one,” NPD Group retail analyst Marshal Cohen said recently. Sales of such clothing rose 13% during a recent 12-month span, and now represent roughly 17% of the entire clothing market, according to the market research firm. “For every jean we are not selling or used to sell we are selling an athleisure bottom. It has become as important to the market as denim would be.”

    Side note: Yoga pants aren’t the only skin-tight garment getting a boost from millennials. During the 12-month period that ended in May, spending on women’s tights was up 24% among millennials, who now account for 45% of all sales in the category.

  • Organic Food

    Organic produce sections in The Whole Foods Market in Willowbrook, Illinois
    Jeff Haynes—AFP/Getty Images

    According to a Gallup poll conducted last summer, 45% of Americans actively seek out organic foods to include in their diets. Millennials are a lot more likely than average to feel that it’s important to go organic, however, so the preferences of younger consumers skew the overall average up. Whereas only 33% of Americans age 65 and older actively try to include organic foods in their diets, 53% of Americans ages 18 to 29 do so.

  • Tattoos & Piercings

    Millennial with the words "Hustle" and "Money" tattooed on each leg using his iPhone
    Petri Artturi Asikainen—Getty Images

    It’s been estimated that 20% of Americans—and nearly 40% of millennials—have at least one tattoo. Surveys conducted for Pew Research several years ago indicated that about 30% of millennials had piercings somewhere other than their ears, which is six times higher than older Americans.

    Despite the growing acceptance of tattoos simply by way of them becoming mainstream, millennials remain somewhat cautious about getting one because it could hurt their chances of being hired. Or at least they’re careful when deciding the placement of a tattoo. In a recent University of Tampa poll, 86% of students said that having a visible tattoo would hurt one’s chances of getting a job. It’s understandable, then, that 70% of millennial workers with tattoos say they hide their ink from the boss.

  • Energy Drinks

    Monster brand energy drinks on sale in a convenience store in New York
    Richard Levine—Alamy

    American parents, likely exhausted by nighttime feedings, hectic schedules, and such, understandably feel the need to resort to energy drinks. A recent Mintel survey shows that 58% of U.S. households with children consume Red Bull, Monster, or other energy drinks, compared to just 27% of households without kids.

    Meanwhile, millennials are even more likely than parents in general to throw back energy drinks: 64% of millennials consume them regularly, and 29% of older millennials (ages 27 to 37, who are more likely to be parents themselves) say they’ve increased the number of energy drinks they consume in recent months.

  • Donations at the Cash Register

    signing electronic bill at register
    Juan Monino—Getty Images

    Some shoppers feel annoyed and put on the spot when a store clerk asks if they’d like to make a charitable donation while ringing up a purchase at the cash register. This isn’t the case with the typical millennial, however.

    According to a report from the consultancy firm the Good Scout Group, of all generations “Gen Y likes being asked to give to charity at the register the most.” What’s more, millennials say that they donate at store cash registers more often than any other generation, and they also felt “most positively about charities and retailers once they gave.”

  • Craft Booze

    Growlers on a table outside Faction Beer Brewery, Alameda, California
    Silicon Valley Stock—Alamy

    More so than other generations, millennials have demonstrated a distaste for mass-market beers and spirits—and a preference for the pricier small-batch booze. In one survey, 43% of millennials say craft beer tastes better than mainstream brews, compared to less than one-third of Baby Boomers. As millennials have grown up and more and more have crossed the age of 21, craft beer sales have soared at the same time that mass-market brands like Budweiser and Miller have suffered. A Nielsen poll showed that 15% of millennials’ beer money goes to the craft segment, which is impressive considering the limited buying power of this college-age demographic. By comparison, craft brews account for less than 10% of money spent on beer by Gen X and Baby Boomers.

    Millennials are also given an outsize share of the credit for the boom in craft spirits over household brands handled by the big distributors. As with craft beer, researchers say that millennials like craft liquors partly because it’s easier to connect to the back story of the beverages, and there’s an air of “inclusive exclusivity” and uniqueness about them. For that matter, millennials seem to care more in general about liquor brands. In one survey, 64% of millennials said that including the brand of spirit in a menu cocktail description was important or very important, compared to 55% of Gen Xers and 50% of Baby Boomers who felt that way.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

13 Fun Ways to Work Out With Your Dog

woman-running-with-dog
Getty Images

The versatile furry friends can do anything from running to yoga to boot camp with you

Dogs make the best workout buddies. They never complain about hills or cancel on you last-minute. And they’re always stoked to follow you out the door. That energy can be contagious: research from Michigan State University found that canine owners were 34% more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week than folks who didn’t have a dog. Even if you’re just taking your pup for a walk, that counts. (Move at a brisk clip and you can burn as many as 170 calories in half an hour.) But there are lots of other activities you and Fido can do together—all while strengthening your bond.

Check out these fun ways to get fit with your furry pal.

Running

Because dogs are creatures of habit, they can help you keep up your weekly mileage: Once your pup gets into the routine of a morning run, she won’t let you wimp out if it’s drizzling, or you’re just feeling bleh, explains J.T. Clough, author of 5K Training Guide: Running with Dogs($8; amazon.com). “She’ll wait by your sneakers, tongue out, tail wagging,” says Clough, who runs a dog-training business on Maui. “Her excitement can be enough to change your attitude.”Concerned your little pooch won’t keep up? No need to worry, says Clough: “The truth is most small dogs have more energy than the big breeds.” Just be careful in the heat and humidity, since dogs don’t sweat like we do. And if you have a flat-faced breed (think pugs and Boston terriers), keep your runs under five miles, Clough suggests, since these dogs have a harder time taking in air.

Stand-up paddleboarding

It’s almost as if stand-up paddleboards were designed for canine co-pilots: Dogs of all sizes can ride on the nose (while you get a killer ab workout). Pick an ultra-calm day on a lake or bay for your first excursion together, so your pup can develop his sea legs. If you’re struggling to balance the board, try paddling on your knees, which lowers your center of gravity, until your dog is comfortable. Still, odds are you’ll both take a dip, which is why Clough recommends outfitting your dog with a life preserver. It’ll make it easier for you to lift him back onto the board, too: Most doggie vests have an easy-to-grab handle, like the NRS CFD (from $35; amazon.com).

Is your dog a born swimmer? Bring a stick or throw toy and play fetch once you’ve paddled out.

Kayaking

You can also take your dog out for a spin in a sit-on-top kayak. Smaller breeds may perch up front, while larger dogs might feel safer closer to your feet. Teach your buddy to get in and out of the kayak on land first; then practice in the shallow water close to shore. (If he seems nervous about sliding around, you could lay down a small mat or piece of carpet so his paws can get some traction.) The trick is to keep the first few outings relaxed and fun (read: brings treats!). Stick to inlets and slow-moving rivers without too much boat traffic. You can let your dog paddle alongside you if he wants to swim. If not, that’s okay too: “He’s getting lots of stimulation just by riding in the boat,” says Clough—all while you ton your arms and core and burn hundreds of calories.

Cycling

Is your dog so exuberant on walks you worry she might one day pull your arm off? If so, try letting her keep up with you as you pedal: “Biking is perfect for dogs with tons of energy,” says Clough. “They are totally psyched to flat-out run.” Meanwhile, you’re getting a great workout (cycling can torch 500-plus calories per hour) and building your leg muscles.

If your girl likes chasing squirrels and skateboards, consider using a device called the Springer. It attaches the leash to your bike’s frame or seat stem and absorbs much of the force of sudden tugs ($130; amazon.com).

Biking with your dog may actually help with any behavioral issues she has, Clough adds. “The biggest problem I see with dogs is that they’re not getting enough exercise.” Indeed, veterinarians at Tufts University’s Animal Behavior Clinic say aerobic exercise stimulates the brain to make serotonin, a hormone that helps dogs, especially those who are anxious or aggressive, to relax.

Rollerblading

This is another great way to burn off a dog’s excess energy—as long as you’re an expert inline skater, that is. If not, “it can be disastrous,” warns Clough. “Your dog will be like ‘Woohoo!’ and you’ll be like, ‘Where’s the break?!” But even if you’re super confident on wheels, she suggest rollerblading in an area free of traffic, like a park or boardwalk, so you can enjoy the excursion as much as your pal. Chances are, you’ll have so much fun you’ll forget you’re seriously working your core.

Dog-friendly boot camp

Fitness classes designed for people and pups—like Leash Your Fitness in San Diego and K9 Fit Club in Chicago —are becoming more and more popular. In a typical class, you’ll run through high-intensity moves for strength, balance and cardio while your four-legged companion practices obedience drills. “I recommend that people at least try out a class,” says Clough, who helped launch Leash Your Fitness. “The focus is more on the person’s workout than the dog’s,” she explains, but your dog is learning to feel comfortable in a distracting environment—and that will make it easier to take him along on other fitness adventures.

Dog yoga

Yep, “doga” is a thing, and it turns out pooches are naturals at this ancient practice. Can’t picture it? Think about your girl’s morning stretches: She probably does a perfect cobra, right? In a doga class, you’ll help her try more poses—and she’ll (hopefully) act as a prop for your own poses. But really doga is all about the pet-human bond. There’s often some doggy massage and acupressure involved. And while you’re in such close contact, you’ll have the opportunity to do a regular health check, feeling for any lumps beneath her fur.

Active fetch

You throw the ball and your pup goes bounding after it. But who says you have to just stand there? While he’s retrieving, bust out some muscle-building moves like crunches, lunges, squats, and more—until you’re both panting and worn out. Better yet, race him for the ball and squeeze in some sprints. Fetch can be a game you play, too.

Soccer

Believe it or not, some dogs love soccer—especially herding breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. Pet brands sell soccer-style balls (resistant to sharp teeth) in different sizes, like the 5-inch Orbee-Tuff ball from Planet Dog ($20; amazon.com). Once your boy learns to “kick” or “dribble” with his nose or paws, get your heart rates up with keep-away, or by punting the ball and racing for it.

Not a soccer fan? Try engaging him with other toys (like rope tugs) and activities (such as hide-and-seek). “Put yourself into kid mood, come up with a game, and show him,” Clough suggests. “He’ll most likely play it with you.”

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing

Cold weather doesn’t mean you have to leave your dog cooped up. Some breeds—like Huskies and St. Bernards—have snow in their DNA, but many dogs enjoy a good romp in the white stuff. And whether you’re on snowshoes or skis, you’ll get in a low-impact, total-body workout. But the best part comes later, when you both curl up for a snooze by the fire.

If your dog gets chronic snow build-up between the pads on her paws, you can outfit her with booties. Brands like Ultra Paws (from $32; amazon.com). and Ruffwear ($90; amazon.com) make rugged footwear for winter walks.

Stair-running

Thanks to the vertical element, climbing stairs (or bleachers) makes your quads, hamstrings, and glutes work extra hard. You’ll tighten up your lower half, while Spot burns off the biscuits.

Join a canine charity race

You have the perfect training buddy. Why not work toward the goal of finishing a dog-friendly race? Events for four-pawed runners and their owners—such as the Fast and the Furry 8K in St. Paul, Minn. and the Rescue Me 5K9 in Irvine, Calif. —are held all over the country.

Don’t have a dog?

You can still work out with one. Call a local animal shelter and volunteer to take dogs out for walks or runs. Pound puppies are often desperate for exercise and attention, and your commitment to your new furry pal is great motivation to stick with a fitness routine. Best of all, as an anxious or unruly dog learns to walk on a leash and behave in public, you’ll be improving his chances of finding a forever home.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME Books

A New Dr. Seuss Book is Out Today

what pet should i get
Random House

"What Pet Should I Get?", a recently discovered Dr. Seuss work, is on sale starting July 28.

What’s that, you say? A new book out today? Why yes, it’s here! Seuss‘s first book in years.

What Pet Should I Get? a recently discovered, unpublished children’s book by beloved author Dr. Seuss is being released on Tuesday, July 28. The book is believed to have been penned at some point between the late 1950s and early 1960s, according to USA Today, and publishers at Random House explain the book’s discovery in its final pages.

The book centers around a brother and sister who set out to a local pet store in search of a furry friend to call their own. The story reportedly features the same brother and sister pair from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

USA Today gives the new tale “three stars out of four” for “mundane” rhymes and a less-than-fantastical plot.

But, parents don’t fret. Kids will surely love “pet.”

 

TIME Pets

Lost Dog Turns Up 1,800 Miles Away From Home

Rocky turned up in Indiana two years after going missing in Arizona

Rocky the boxer must have gotten some inspiration from Homeward Bound, the classic 1993 film about three pets who make an epic journey home across America.

The dog went missing in Mesa, Arizona two years ago before finally turning up in Indiana earlier this month — 1,800 miles away from where he disappeared, reports local CBS affiliate CBS5AZ .

Brittany Romero, whose son Aden owned Rocky, received a call from an Elkhart, Indiana animal clinic telling them the long lost pooch had been found. It took a relay of 26 volunteer rescue workers to drive Rocky back to his family.

Rocky’s owners are naturally elated. “I don’t even have words to explain how amazed and surprised I was,” said Romero. “I honestly, I just didn’t think I would see him for a good while, if at all,”

[CBS5AZ]

TIME animals

See What JFK Airport’s Extravagant New ‘Pet Terminal’ Will Look Like

Warning: may cause feelings of envy in two-legged commuters

New York officials announced plans to develop a new $32 million terminal on Monday, specially designed to handle roughly 70,000 airborne animals a year.

The 172,165 square-foot facility, dubbed the ARK, will include “a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, animal daycare services and more efficient ways to transport animals worldwide, including exotic species,” the Port Authority said in a public statement. Artists’ renderings suggest that animal passengers may enjoy more amenities than their human counterparts, including a lap pool and private rooms. The cattle gates, on the other hand, may look familiar.

“While most of our airport passengers walk on two legs, this new center will serve the important travel needs of our four-legged and winged friends,” said Port Authority executive director Pat Foye.

MONEY Pets

At This New Airport Terminal, Dogs Are Treated Better Than Humans

jfk-pet-terminal
Joe McBride/Getty Images

Yet another reason pets have it better than their owners.

New York’s John F. Kennedy international airport will soon be adding pools, massages, and spa treatments. But before any humans readers get too excited, there’s a catch: those amenities are exclusively for pets.

The New York Post reports that JFK’s new $48 million Ark terminal will be used exclusively for shipping animals and include many of the amenities of a five-star hotel. Dogs will be free to frolic in a 20,000-square-foot “resort” that will include bone-shaped pools, massage therapy, and “pawdicures,” while cats can spend their pre-boarding hours lounging in a specially made jungle featuring bespoke climbing trees.

Canines who won’t be joining their owners on a flight can stay over at the $100-per-night pet hotel, complete full-sized beds and flat-screen TVs. The Ark will also have designated spaces for horses, cows, and other animals. Horses will have special pens with soft, hoof-friendly flooring, for instance.

If much of this sounds better than what humans generally get to experience at airports, the Ark’s designers agree. “It will be a place for people who love their pets like they love their kids,” Cliff Bollmann, an architect on the project, told Crain’s New York Business. “Maybe more.”

With the new terminal, expected to open in 2016, John F. Kennedy is rapidly becoming one of the most pet-friendly airports in the world. Earlier this month, JetBlue announced it was opening a new park lounge in JFK’s terminal 5 that includes a fenced-in dog run with synthetic grass.

Unlike the Ark, the park also includes more people-centric attractions like wifi and food trucks. Sometimes you have to throw the humans a bone, too.

 

TIME Interview

Vincent Musi: The Art of Photographing Animals

Vincent Musi has made portraits of animals his speciality

In all his years as a National Geographic photographer, Vincent Musi learned one simple thing: “You can’t tell an animal to do what you want it to do.”

“You have all these great plans for constructing a photograph and, in the end, you’re at the whim of something that you may or may not be able to communicate with in any way,” he tells TIME, ahead of the LOOK3 photo festival in Charlottesville, Va., where his work will be on show starting June 10. “In most cases, they are not at all happy with what you’re doing.”

For a long time, Musi photographed people and how they interact. He took to Route 66, documenting a monument of American history and how it’s experienced by its many aficionados, tourists and locals alike. He photographed the way of life in the Texas Hill Country, and the impact of hurricanes on people and landscapes in the United States. About a decade ago, he turned to animals, and that work is where he made his reputation—even though he still struggles every single time he’s faced with one of his subjects.

“It was very hard for me to learn how to do this, and I’m still learning,” he says. “Every time I do one of these, it’s radically different. You go in with very little confidence. And maybe the animals sense that.”

To connect with his subjects, Musi learned to talk to them. “I tell them what I’m doing,” he says. “I tell them who I am. And the people who own these animals often think I’m insane for talking to them like this, but I do. It’s a very collaborative relationship, in the end. You’re on their time schedule. It’s taught me a lot about communication.”

Musi’s collaboration with his subjects has also taught him humility. In its 127 years of existence, National Geographic magazine has built its reputation on photographs of animals, so there was a lot for him to live up to. “They have had the best of the best for all these years,” Musi says. “It’s intimidating. You have this animal that doesn’t necessarily want to cooperate or doesn’t understand what you’re doing, so you have to slow it down to get what you want to make these photographs.”

Slowing it down is also Musi’s approach when it comes to his second job in photography. For almost a decade, the photographer has been known as the voice of LOOK3. Each year, he’ll take to the stage of the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville’s historic city center to introduce the festival’s keynote speakers. His distinctive voice and sense of humor have become synonymous with the festival’s motto—Peace, Love and Photography—and laid-back approach to an industry that can move too quickly at times.

“It always comes from the perspective of the artist first,” says Musi, “which I think is lost in this sea of information in photography and technology. We’ve lost the point that photographers make these pictures.” So, when photographers such as Larry Fink or Michael “Nick” Nichols stroll on stage in front of hundreds of people, “they know they’re going to do something that they may have never done anywhere else and be treated like they’ve never been treated in any other place,” he says.

That purity is important, and that’s hard to sustain financially, Musi admits. “If we can’t do it our way, which is this laid-back, non-competitive thing, then there’s not really a point to doing it. So it’s very hard financially to keep it non-commercial,” he tells TIME. “We’re not selling anything. The sponsors are not telling us who to put on that stage and how to do it. They’re there because of what we do in the end. But it’s hard to keep that going. Every year I feel it’s that story of the little engine that could. I never know if we’re going to get there. We all want to get there, but you never know.”

So far, the festival has not failed to deliver. “We’re always amazed to how it turns out,” says Musi, “because the best planning cannot account for some of the wonderful serendipitous moments that happen.” This year, some of these moments will, without little doubt, come from Musi. When he walks on stage this Friday, it will be, for the first time, as a keynote speaker.

Vincent Musi‘s photographs will be on show in Charlottesville, Va. until June 28. The photographer will give a talk on June 12 during the LOOK3 photo festival, which runs from June 10 to 13.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME Disease

How Dog Owners Can Keep Pets Safe From Canine Flu

Dog
Getty Images

Kennels can be hotbeds for the illness

An outbreak of dog flu in Chicago, Illinois continues to plague pet owners there, and new cases have been reported in as many as 10 other states.

Much like influenza in humans, symptoms of the dog flu H3N2 include runny noses, coughing and fever—and in some dogs, even pneumonia and death. The number of dogs affected is impossible to gauge since there’s no organized system for testing and reporting this kind of pet illness, says Edward Dubovi, PhD, professor of virology at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. There are likely many more than the 1,000 estimated cases in Chicago, he says, since many veterinarians stop sending in samples for testing after they’ve confirmed cases in the neighborhood.

Many of the states to which the virus has spread have seen only one confirmed case, often from a dog that recently visited Chicago. So while it’s not necessarily cause for major alarm, “that’s not to say there isn’t the possibility of independent introduction of this virus in other areas,” Dubovi says.

Humans are not at risk for the disease, but in areas like Illinois where the virus is most problematic, people can take steps to protect their pets from the flu.

Keep your dog out of close quarters. High-population areas like kennels, shelters and doggy daycare centers are hotbeds for the virus. And though we think about flu being a cold-weather disease, the warm weather may actually be part of the problem in this case, since vacationing dog owners often board their dogs in kennels. Dubovi says we need more information before drawing a definitive seasonal link, but just as a crowded plane can expose passengers to human flu, kennels can exposes pets to the virus. When possible, dog owners should try to avoid putting their pets in these cramped conditions in affected areas.

Put Fido on a leash. If dogs in your neighborhood are sick, make sure your pet isn’t able to come into physical contact with them, reports USA TODAY. Vaccination may be a good option, depending on your veterinarian’s advice.

If you’re a veterinarian, practice good hygiene. To protect against spreading the virus from one sick dog in the clinic to other healthy dogs, vets and their staff should be extra vigilant about maintaining clean hands, clothing and equipment. He also advises veterinarians to try to find out where the dog has recently been to help determine how the disease is spreading.

“Unfortunately with influenza virus, you can’t predict what it’s going to do,” Dubovi says. But as people become more cautious, “we may see an end to it,” he says.

TIME Cameras

Here’s a Camera That Lets Your Dog Take Pictures

Now Fido can snap pictures of things he likes

Nikon is putting out a new camera that allows dogs to take pictures of things they like. That’s right: Fido can now help you fill up your Instagram feed.

The camera is attached to your furry friend with a 3D printed case. It takes a picture when the dogs heart rate goes up, Quartz reports. As of now, the product is just a prototype, and Nikon did not comment on whether or not it plans to make the camera available for purchase. Nikon is calling the experiment “Heartography.”

MONEY Pets

5 Ways Fido Is Costing You a Fortune

golden retriever chewing shoe
Vikki Hart—Getty Images

You can't put a price on love -- but you can budget for unexpected pet expenses

A few months ago, I brought home a ridiculously energetic black lab mix from the local humane society. While the other dogs quietly waited by the desk to have their adoption papers stamped, my new doggie friend strained at the end of his leash, barking and howling and jumping as my partner dragged him to the car.

That’s the dog you picked?” an older man asked me with incredulity, as his dog sat stock still, panting at his side. What I’m getting at is that my dog — I call him Peanut — is quite a handful. But the joke’s on you if you pick out a pet and think being its owner will be a piece of cake. If you love your pet, you will rush him to the vet in the middle of the afternoon when he gets a swollen paw. You will make him special food when he has a tummy ache. You will spend countless hours walking and entertaining him. And, when he steals a cinnamon bun off the counter and then — out of fear of being caught — loses all control of his bowels and leaves a smelly mess in the basement, you will clean it up without being too mad. And, finally, when he needs something, you will pay for it with lots and lots of your hard-earned money.

Of course, when you bring a pet home, you probably assume that you’ll have to buy it a few basic things. Food. Some toys. Treats. A bed. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent more than $55 billion on their pets in 2013. But for many pet owners, that’s just the beginning. Here are a few unexpected expenses to budget for.

1. Stuff You Said You’d Never Buy

I always assumed I’d be one of those pet owners with a stiff upper lip. I wouldn’t be spoiling my dog. Oh no. Not me. But suddenly, when you love your pet, you’ll probably find yourself rationalizing all kinds of (highly overpriced) pet paraphernalia. If you’re able to steer clear of the temptation while you’re picking up your standard pet food, more power to you. The line at my local pet shop (and my own experience) suggests that most people cave.

2. Less Dirty/Damaged Versions of Things You Already Have

Whether you have a cat or a goldfish, pets have a way of making a terrible mess of your house. So far, Peanut has destroyed: one running shoe, a picnic chair, a garden hose, a sprinkler, a dog bed, and a Persian rug. And, while replacing those things posed a significant expense, I actually think I’ve gotten off quite lucky. I mean, have you ever seen dog shaming? Or cat shaming? When you get a pet, expect to replace a few things. It’s a given.

3. Vet Bills — Big Ones

Perhaps before you had a pet, you thought you had limits. You thought if your pet required medical care to the tune of thousands of dollars, you’d decline. After all, it’s just a pet, right? And then you met Mr. Fluffypants, the pet extraordinaire who kept you company when you were sick. Or made you laugh. Or helped you through tough times. Chances are when it’s your pet, you’ll be willing to shell out just about anything to save its life. If that means emergency care, medication, or surgery, that can get very, very expensive. According to the American Pet Products Association, surgical vet visits cost dog owners $621 and cat owners $382 on average in 2013. If you have an accident-prone pet or are really worried about unexpected pet expenses, consider getting pet insurance.

4. Vacation Costs

While a winter vacation in Hawaii might be really relaxing for you, most pets don’t travel especially well. Airline travel is expensive for pets and can be very traumatizing and stressful. Plus, many hotels prefer that you leave your fluffy family members at home. When you get a pet, consider who will take care of it when you’re away — and how much that’ll cost you.

5. Your Time and Energy

If you have never owned a pet, you will drastically underestimate the amount of time caring for it will take out of your day. No matter what kind of pet you have, it’ll need some combination of exercise, training, entertainment, care, and clean-up. If you have a dog, you will (or should) invest plenty of time in working on obedience. (Otherwise, you’ll spend lots more time chasing after your dog and posting photos of half-eaten couches on dog-shaming sites.) And, just when you think you have things under control, your adorable fluffy will remind you just who exactly is in charge.

You can reduce some of the potential expenses you might incur by ensuring that your pet is vaccinated, gets all the required preventative care, and is well cared for on a daily basis. But no matter how healthy your pet appears to be, you should always be prepared for the unexpected. Animals are full of surprises. Fortunately, many of them are the kind that make your day, rather than empty your bank account.

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