U.S. Pet Owners Can’t Keep Up with Rising Costs – Pawlicy Advisor Survey Finds Financial Struggles Causing Owners to Rehome Pets and Forego Care
Pawlicy Advisor, the leading, independent pet insurance marketplace recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association, today reveals its latest survey examining the financial impact of owning a pet, focusing on how pet owners are budgeting to afford related costs. The results of the survey highlight the financial burden of pet ownership and how U.S. pet owners are thinking about their budgets when facing struggles to keep up with rising inflation, cost of living and pet care expenses.
“The cost of owning a pet has risen dramatically over the last few years. For the more than 70 million households in America with a dog or cat, pet insurance is more important now than ever before,” said Edwin Plotts, Director at Pawlicy Advisor. “When a pet owner has the right insurance coverage they are protected from the financial burden of many unexpected accidents and illnesses, depending on their policy. Our recent survey findings demonstrate the need for increased adoption of pet insurance policies to alleviate the impact of costs associated with unexpected pet health issues and veterinary prices rising across the country due to inflation.”
Pets Really Are the New Kids: The Current State of Pet Care Costs in the U.S.
Due to high inflation and a fluctuating economy, overall cost of living in the U.S. has surged over the last few years. Coupled with the long-running veterinarian shortage heightened by the pandemic and advancements in technology increasing costs of treatments, among other factors, the majority of pet owners’ wallets are stretched thin and unable to afford routine pet care and supplies. As a result, pet owners are seeking alternative methods to afford the needs of their furry friends. Yet, two-thirds of the American pet owners surveyed say they do not have a pet insurance policy to help offset veterinary costs. Survey results show:
- 64 percent of American pet owners surveyed say they were surprised by pet care costs in their first year of owning a pet.
- Over one-fifth (21 percent) report that they have rehomed a pet in the last year, largely citing the cost of living as the primary reason (26 percent).
- More than 1 in 4 (27 percent) say they have had to refuse necessary medical care for their pet due to financial reasons, meanwhile most do not have a pet insurance policy to help offset veterinary costs.
- The majority of U.S. pet owners are unable to pay out-of-pocket for expenses due to rising costs.
- Surveyed pet owners say they look for alternative methods to help budget for pet-related expenses and emergencies – but only 28 percent of those cite pet insurance as one of their methods. Meanwhile, respondents lean on payment plans (35 percent), separate credit card specifically for pet expenses (21 percent), separate pet savings account (18 percent) and seeking help from nonprofits (10 percent).
$100,000 Annual Income Isn’t Enough for Pet Owners Anymore
While the majority of pet owners are facing financial difficulties when it comes to pet care, U.S. pet owners who earn less than $100,000 a year face significantly more challenges.
- Only 29 percent of surveyed pet owners who make under $100k per year in income have a pet insurance policy, with 56 percent of those who don’t have a pet insurance policy citing not being able to afford it as the primary reason why. This is significantly lower than the number of pet owners making $100k or more per year in income with pet insurance policies (57 percent).
- 39 percent of respondents making at least $100k per year say they have rehomed a pet in the last year, with one-third (33 percent) citing cost of living as the reason why.
- Despite earning less, only 17 percent of pet owners making under $100k per year say they have rehomed a pet in the last year, with 23 percent citing cost of living as the reason.
- Despite rising costs and challenges paying for care, Americans still love to spoil their pets with gifts like toys, treats and accessories. In fact, 65 percent of pet owners who make at least $100k say they typically spend between $50 to $200 per month on gifts for their pets, whereas 60 percent of those who earn less typically spend less than $50 per month.
Divorced Pet Parents are Falling Behind
Financial security is often challenging for Americans who are divorced or separated, but those with pets face additional difficulties when it comes to affording the costs associated with caring for their furry family members.
- The majority (80 percent) of American pet owners surveyed who are divorced or separated say they do not have a pet insurance policy, with 56 percent citing not being able to afford it as the main reason. In comparison, only 59 percent of those who are married say they do not have a pet insurance policy.
- 37 percent of divorced or separated respondents say they budget for pet-related expenses and emergencies using free or low-cost clinics for at least some of their expenses.
- Despite their financial burden, 90 percent of divorced or separated pet owners say they treated their pet to a present for the holidays in the last year.
Gen Z is Prioritizing their Pets More than Older Generations
Pet insurance is much more common in younger generations, specifically Gen Z. With this generation managing to get on their own two feet during a long stint of economic downturn, Gen Zers are turning toward pet insurance to provide for their pets and offset rising costs more than any other generation.
- Pet insurance is much more common in younger generations, with 52 percent of 18-24 year old American pet owners reporting that they have a pet insurance policy.
- This is significantly higher than older generations, most notably 45-54 year old pet owners (16 percent) and pet owners over the age of 54 (13 percent).
Pawlicy Advisor is the only platform that provides personalized recommendations to match pet owners with the right pet insurance coverage and projected lifetime value, based on a pet’s breed-specific health conditions, age, location, and more. Pawlicy Advisor is a member of VetPartners and the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. For more information about Pawlicy Advisor’s pet insurance marketplace, please visit: Pawlicy.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Pollfish from Dec. 21-22, 2022 among 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and over who currently own at least one dog or cat. Pollfish gathers data through organic probability sampling through random device engagement and AI fraud prevention.