While they typically don’t cost as much as caring for a child does, owning a pet can be pricey – especially if your pooch has special dietary needs, requires medications, regular boarding or unexpected medical treatments.
Case in point: Say your 10-year-old dog contracts heartworms from a mosquito bite. When the condition is discovered at a regular vet check-up, you learn that the five-dose course of treatment will cost upward of $1,000. That’s if everything goes as planned and your pet responds well. If they don’t, you could be looking at hundreds more for extra nights at a pet hospital.
During the first full year of the pandemic, when so many people worked from home, the number of Americans who owned a pet increased. Now, some 70% of U.S. households, or about 90.5 million families, own a pet, according to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey from the American Pet Products Association (APPA). That’s up from 67% of U.S. households who owned a pet in 2019.
We get it. Our pets offer companionship and unconditional love. They comfort us and ask for so little in return, relatively speaking.
In 2021, Americans spent a total of $123.6 billion dollars on their pets, up $20 billion from $103.6 billion in 2020, according to the APPA. Those numbers represent actual sales, and are broken down into these categories: pet food and treats, $50 billion; supplies, live animals and over-the-counter medications, $29.8 billion; vet care and product sales, $34.3 billion; and other services at $9.5 billion.
It’s the “other services” that might surprise you since they are included outside of what is spent on the care by a veterinarian. Those additional services include pet boarding, grooming, insurance, training, pet sitting and walking. As we all deal with the constraints inflation is putting on our household budgets, here’s a look at what you might spend for your dog or cat this year:
The total number of pets insured in the U.S. at the end of 2021 was about 3.9 million, which was a 28% increase from 2020, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. The average accident and illness premium for dogs was $583 a year or about $49 a month. The average accident and illness premium for cats was $343 a year or roughly $29 a month. The largest share of insured pets live with their owners in California, Florida, and New York. Pro-tip: before buying, ask your vet if they accept pet insurance, and if they do, which ones. Not all vets accept all plans.
Boarding a pet
The price you’ll pay to board a pet when you go on vacation or leave town for business will depend on a few things, including the weight and age of your animal, and if they have any special needs. Smaller pets typically cost less to board than larger animals. A 70-pound Boxer who needs to be walked several times a day will cost more to board than a 15-pound poodle who likes to lounge. While it also depends on what part of the U.S. you live in, the average cost to board a dog overnight can run from $25 to $65. Make sure to budget for this expense when planning your next trip.
Taming your treat habit
Depending on how often you reward your pet for good behavior, the price of snacks can really add up. Owners spent an average of $81 annually on treats for dogs and $72 on food treats for cats in 2021. That means some paid much more while others paid less, of course. One way to stretch your treat budget is to buy in bulk when your pet’s favorite snacks go on sale. You can also break treats into smaller pieces, so that a strip of ‘bacon’ becomes two or three bite-size pieces. Your pet probably won’t even notice.
With reporting by Casandra Andrews