Puppy love: Most people would rather spend money on their pet than their partner

NEW YORK — Gen Z is more likely than any other generation to invest saved money on their pet than use it to go on vacation. That’s according to a new survey of 2,000 pet owners split evenly by generation, that showed only 15 percent of Gen Z would rather buy an expensive concert ticket or go on vacation (30%) with saved cash, whereas 42 percent would prefer to save the money for unexpected pet expenses. 

Gen X echoed the same sentiment — 30 percent would rather stash their money away for their pet than go on a trip (20%) or purchase a concert ticket (27%). 

In fact, 41 percent of gen Zers are more likely to spend $100 on their pet than on their partner. And, Gen Zers admit they get more joy from seeing their pet happy than their partner (36% vs 21%), more than any other generation.  

What are pet owners buying?

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Synchrony, the survey also found that half of baby boomers (54%) spend less than $150 each month on basic pet expenses. This brings pet owners’ yearly spending to about $3,200. Though pet parents plan for routine monthly expenses like food, training or vet visits, they also purchase non-necessity items like clothing, toys or even tech. 

pet owner cats
(Photo by Tranmautritam from Pexels)

In the last year, respondents spent money on at least one unnecessary item, like “a machine that throws the ball for my dog,” “a super nice bed pillow, it was plush and it had fake diamonds,” and “a very large scratching post structure.”  

One respondent even “bought [their] dog, Princess, a spa trip for a week.”

Respondents would go as far as to give up eating out for a whole year (45%) if it meant free pet expenses for the same amount of time. They’d also forego social media (42%) and streaming services (36%).

Pet parents would go a step further if it meant their pet could live an extra year. They’d give up dating or romance for a year (48%), work for their worst boss again (38%) and give up their paycheck (36%). 

About half (49%) of millennials would even brave the winter weather and sleep outside in the snow to give their pet an extra year of life. 

“We’ve found that the total cost of care for a dog over a lifetime ranges from $20,000-$55,000. The estimated cost of care for a cat over a lifetime was between $15,000 – $46,000,” says senior vice president and general manager of Synchrony, Jonathan Wainberg, in a statement. “Many Gen Z pet parents are first-timers and the costs to care for a pet can be surprising. For that reason, we want pet parents to have a deeper understanding of what to expect financially, and knowledge of the flexible payment solutions that are available to help them manage the costs of care throughout their pet’s lifetime.”  

Overall, 53 percent of respondents believe their pet is more a part of their family than their childhood pet was. On top of that, 90 percent of respondents agree that their pets are like their children. 

“Millions of Americans choose to share life with a pet, and we want to help them balance the care their pet needs with what they can afford,” adds Wainberg. “Whether you choose to splurge on pet gifts or not, it’s important to plan ahead for unexpected costs so you can spoil your pet AND cover the cost of their mental and physical wellbeing.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 American pet owners split evenly by generation (500 Gen Z, 500 millennials, 500 Gen X and 500 baby boomers) was commissioned by Synchrony between Feb. 17 and Feb. 22, 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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About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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  1. You can leave your dog out in the rain for 15 minutes and when you open the door, he/she is happy to see you. Try that with your wife…..

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