PetIQ Inc. (PETQ) stock rallied 33.75% to $21.40 midday in its first day of trading, thanks in large part to millennials.

With a growing consumer shift to healthier living, and as millennials increasingly choose now to adopt a pet rather than have a child, sales of pet products are booming.

“People are treating their pets better. It’s not the dog in the backyard tied to a tree anymore. There’s a humanization happening, and millennials are definitely a part of that,” PetIQ CEO Cord Christensen told TheStreet in an interview on Friday, July 21.

On Friday morning, the pet medications and products maker went public on the Nasdaq with an initial public offering of 6.25 million shares priced at $16.

Americans spent $81.4 billion on pet products and services in 2016, compared to $28.5 billion in 2001. Sales of pet medications alone are estimated to have grown to $7.4 billion in 2016 from $5.8 billion in 2011 and are expected to reach $8.9 billion by 2019, according to PetIQ’s Form S-1 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A recent study done by Wakefield Research shows that, on average, millennials, aged 18 to 33, get their first pet at 21, before having children. In contrast, baby boomers took home their first pet at 29, likely after they already started a family.

Wakefield also found that 76% of millennials said they would rather “splurge” on buying for their pets than themselves.

“Pets are becoming part of the family more,” Christensen said. “More pets in the U.S. came home last year than babies.”

In 2016, the national fertility rate hit a record low of 62 births per 1,000 women, aged 15 to 44, to a total of 3,941,109 births in the U.S., down 1% from 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

PetIQ, headquartered in Eagle, Idaho, makes and distributes veterinarian-grade pet medications and over-the-counter flea and tick preventatives and health and wellness products, including treats, for dogs and cats. Its private-label brands include VetIQ, PetLock Plus, TruProfen, Advecta and PetAction Plus. Inc., Walmart Stores Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp., PetSmart Inc., Kroger Co. and Target Corp., among others, sells the company’s products.

For the 12 months ended March 31, PetIQ reported revenue of $214.9 million, a 44% jump from the $31.8 million in revenue it generated in 2011, according to its SEC filing.

Source: TheStreet