$4,800! Pet parents spent nearly double what they budgeted for in 2023

NEW YORK — The average pet parent spends about $4,800 a year on their furry friends, according to a new poll. The survey of 2,000 dog and cat owners in 2023 finds that these pricy purchases revolve around food, toys, clothes, treats, and health needs.

This year, pet parents spent about $633 on food for their pets — but even more on treats ($645). Pet parents also averaged spending close to $600 on fun items such as toys ($585) and clothes ($598) this year. However, health needs were the most expensive bills pet parents faced, averaging $1,242 for vet visits.

Conducted by OnePoll for MetLife Pet Insurance, the survey finds that while half of pet parents say they tried to budget for pet expenses this year — averaging $2,640 for the entire year — the reality of how much they spent nearly doubled that.

Infographic on annual pet expenses
(Credit: SWNS)

Pet parents recognize their heightened spending, as 41 percent of respondents say they spent more money on their pets this year than anticipated, citing the financial climate of 2023 as a key issue. It doesn’t stop there — 44 percent predict they’ll spend even more money on their pet in 2024.

“Our survey found almost half of pet parents (45%) said their pet went through a major health event this year, but unfortunately, 82% of them weren’t financially prepared for the cost of this,” says spokesperson Brian Jorgensen, CEO of Pet Insurance at MetLife, in a statement. “With heightened spending across all areas of pet parenting, the last thing they need is an unexpected and expensive vet bill. Pet insurance can help with this, allowing pet parents to protect both their furry family members and their budgets.”

Despite the increased costs, though, the majority of pet parents agree that, realistically, there’s no limit on what they’d spend to make sure their pet is happy and healthy (83%). This proves true since the average pet owner shares they have spent roughly $176 on a leisure splurge for their pal, like “a large swimming pool,” “a giant cat tree,” and “a birthday party with neighborhood pets, cake, DJ and piñata.”

Dog eating food off plate
(© New Africa – stock.adobe.com)

Pet parents may have more to think about with the holidays arriving, too, as 63 percent say they usually buy their pet a present for the holiday season — though only 54 percent are certain they will buy their furry friend a gift this year.

Reflecting on the year, some of pet parents’ favorite memories of their fur babies include being active with them (47%), taking them outside (42%), and teaching them new tricks (38%).

In addition, the majority of pet parents say they learned things that will help them take better care of their pet next year (79%), like knowing “they don’t want to be alone,” they “need a special diet,” and how it’s important to “take care of your pet like a child.”

“To make sure 2024 is filled with happiness with their pets, pet parents should consider how pet health insurance might be able to support their furry family member,” Jorgensen explains. “Just as you think about how insurance should cater to your unique health needs, look for a pet insurance provider that can do the same for your pet.”

Looking ahead to next year, many are setting pet-related resolutions, like spending more quality time with their furry friends (38%), being more proactive about their health (32%), and taking them to the vet more often (21%). Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed are even interested in getting a new pet in 2024 to keep their pal company (64%).

Survey Methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 dog and cat owners was commissioned by MetLife Pet Insurance between Oct. 27 and Oct. 30, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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