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40% of pet owners say caring for furry friends is as costly as kids

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Six of every 10 pet owners (61%) admitted having a pet is costlier than they anticipated, but an even larger number (74%) say cost doesn’t matter so long as they have a healthy, happy, safe fur baby.

Those were among findings from a recent survey of 2,000 dog and cat owners. Two of every five respondents think having a pet is just as, if not more, expensive than raising a child. About half of those polled said they spend more money on their pets every year than they do on themselves.

In analyzing the spending habits of pet parents, OnePoll, which conducted the survey in partnership with MetLife for Pet Wellness Month, reported the average pet owner spends more than $4,500 on their pet’s basic needs every year.

Other findings from the survey included:

  • Three in five pet parents allocate around $200 from each paycheck for their pet’s necessities, which includes food, toys, flea and tick treatments, and medicine.
  • 27% were surprised at having to invest in stain/odor removers.
  • 26% had not anticipated needing a pet first aid kit (which they said came in handy).
  • Unexpected costs pet parents experienced included health care, training, and other “unavoidable extras.”
  • One-third of pet owners said they usually end up exceeding their budget by at least $500 whenever they take their pet to the vet.

“For many pet parents, their animals are more than just ‘furry friends’ – they are part of the family,” said Katie Blakeley, vice president and head of pet insurance at MetLife. “However, with all the joys of having a pet also comes financial stress, as many pet parents are willing to take on almost any cost to ensure that their pets are happy and healthy.”

According to the National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), a trade association, an estimated 70% of U.S. households own a pet, up from 67% when the survey was conducted two years ago. APPA’s latest survey, released earlier this year, found the industry exceeded $100 billion in annual sales during 2020, the highest level in its history.

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