Candy giant Mars Inc., is digging even deeper into the world’s love affair with pets with the $7.7 billion acquisition of VCA Inc., a veterinary and doggie day-care company based in Los Angeles.

The purchase by McLean, Virginia-based Mars, the privately held maker of Snickers, Spearmint gum, Milky Way and M&M’s candies, represents a doubling down on its 80-year-old pet business, which includes veterinary services, food brands and nutritional products.

“We have always been impressed by VCA and the excellent services it offers to pets across diverse business segments,” Mars Global Petcare President Poul Weihrauch said in a news release Monday.

Mars is already the owner of Banfield, a fleet of more than 1,000 veterinary clinics and hospitals, many of which are located inside Petsmart stores. The VCA acquisition will help grow Mars’ pet business into the company’s largest segment by sales, passing the candy and gum sector.

The move, approved by both boards of directors and expected to close in the third quarter, is designed to capitalize on Americans’ growing attachment to their pets.

Americans spent an estimated $62.75 billion in 2016 on their animals, according to the American Pet Products Association. That is up from $51 billion only five years ago, as many owners grow accustomed to the health care costs that go with keeping their pets around as long as possible.

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