Here’s How Much Americans Are Spending on Their Pets in 2023 — How Do You Compare

Americans love having pets, as demonstrated by the surge in pet ownership in the past few years. Indeed, as of 2023, 66% of U.S. households — 86.9 million homes — own a pet, as Forbes Advisor reported. That figure represents a whopping 56% jump from 1988.

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Yet, having a pet isn’t cheap: in 2022, Americans spent $136.8 billion on their pets, up 10.68% from 2021, according to Forbes.

A new GOBankingRates survey found that more than 70% of Americans spent between $600 and $1,200 on their pets this year, with 37% having spent under $600 on their pets and 35% having spent between $600 and $1,200.

Another 12% of pet owners said they spent between $1,201 and $1,500; 7.64% spent between $1,501 and $2,000; and 8.5% spent more than $2,000.

“Undoubtedly, our relationship with our pets has changed and reshaped during the pandemic. As we stayed at home, we became more interconnected with our pets, with 86% finding emotional support in their pets during the pandemic,” said Mark Bordo, CEO and co-founder of Vetster.

“After the pandemic, it’s clear the extent to which pets have become cherished family members, with Americans more ready now than ever before to invest in their animal’s well-being continuously.”

There are also generational differences when it comes to spending. For instance, the survey found that the 35-to-44 cohort took the lion’s share — 12% — in terms of pet owners who spent more than $2,000. On the other hand, only 2.7% of the 18-to-24 age group sent that amount.

So, where do Americans spend their money when it comes to their pets?

Pet Costs Also Hit by Inflation

The cost of care is only getting more challenging, especially since inflation hit last year and pet expenses have been rising, often faster than for other consumer goods, according to financial pet expert, Jonathan Wainberg, senior vice president and general manager of CareCredit Pet from Synchrony.

He explained that pet food alone has increased by 14%, while veterinary care costs alone have risen by 10%. Wainberg, citing Synchrony’s Lifetime of Pet Care study, added that costs were often underestimated by pet owners.

He said, “The study found that 45% of dog owners thought they were ready for their pet expenses, but in actuality were not. Even coming up with $250 or less to pay for veterinary care would put financial stress on 25% of those surveyed, and close to half of those asked said a sudden $500 expense would be a major undertaking.”

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Health and Wellness

Shaina Denny, co-founder and CEO of Dogdrop, said that “pet parents” today are more informed about the health and well-being of their pets, leading to a higher demand for quality pet care services, such as daycare, to improve their pet’s overall wellbeing.

In turn, Denny said that budgeting for routine and preventative veterinary services is essential.

“Regular check-ups and vaccinations can accumulate costs over time, and the financial impact can be even more significant in the event of an unexpected illness or injury,” Denny said. “Having pet insurance can provide crucial financial protection in such situations.”

Similarly, with increased education around the importance of a healthy diet, Denny said that pet owners are willing to spend a premium to ensure their dog is fed “real food”.

Underscoring the rising costs of pet ownership, a Morgan Stanley study predicts that at the household level, spending will increase to $1,320 per pet by 2025, while reaching $1,897 by 2030. And pet services are expected to have the highest growth of any segment of the pet industry, with spending rising 143% by 2030 to $118 billion. Meanwhile, another strong growth area is pet insurance.

Other Costs

Of course, a lot of the costs will vary depending on the type of pet and its breed.

For instance, Ryan Marshall, vice president and financial advisor at Wealth Enhancement Group, said he has a cockapoo, and while they’re typically on the healthier side of breeds, he still usually spends in the $1,501 – $2,000 range annually.

“The most significant cost is food at $15 a week, totaling $780 for the year. The other considerable expenses are the groomer and the vet visits,” said Marshall. “Grooming prices have increased significantly in the last few years and cost $85 per visit on average. Since he usually goes five times per year, that is $425. Our annual vet visit costs $250 on average. If we include $100 for heartworm and flea/tick medicine we get $1,555 a year.”

And this, he said, is the minimum, as additional vet visits can arise, especially as the pet ages or you need to board your dog for work or vacation.

“We are fortunate that we do not need to board our dog; however, I understand, at least in our city, that it can cost up to $50 a day. That would be a considerable expense for those returning to the office in 2023/2024,” he added.

Pet Emergency Fund

To help manage these costs and navigate unfortunate pet surprises, some experts recommend setting up a pet emergency fund, just like they recommend a “regular” emergency fund, which is typically three to six months’ worth of expenses.

“In addition to the regular pet expenses such as food, and normal care, you need to have a ‘pet emergency fund’ for unplanned vet bills,” said Jay Zigmont, PhD, CFP and founder of Childfree Wealth.

“My wife and I keep a $3,000 emergency fund for our pets as it seems like every vet emergency is that much. For example, when our pug ate raisins, he spent a few days in the doggy ICU and it cost about $3,000, but luckily he did well in the end.”

Zigmont added that you can build up a ‘sinking fund’ for emergencies by putting aside a set amount each month –$250 in his case — so that pet emergencies don’t hurt you financially.

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This article originally appeared on Here’s How Much Americans Are Spending on Their Pets in 2023 — How Do You Compare

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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