Pets were crucial to getting America through quarantine. When stay at home orders kept people from seeing their human friends, our animal friends were there to stave off our loneliness. People who began the pandemic with no pets soon brought one into their home for the simple pleasure of living company. As a result, pet ownership rates in America hit an all-time high at 70%. The majority of pets adopted during 2020 went to first time pet owners.
Owning a pet can be a huge joy, but also a huge financial responsibility. Caring for a pet is not cheap. Typically, the first year is the worst. To use dogs as an example, the first year of owning a dog can cost between $1,314 and $1,843 depending on the dog’s size. This is thanks to the costs to spay or neuter the dog, train the dog, get the dog their initial vaccines, and purchase a crate for the dog. From the second year onwards, cost average in the $580 to $875 annual range.
People Spend Big Time on Pets
As a nation, Americans spend vast sums of money on our pets. Last year, the U.S. pet industry hit a staggering $103.6 billion and is expected to go to $109.6 billion this year. A breakdown includes $42 billion in food and treats, $31 billion in veterinary care, $8 billion in services such as grooming and boarding, and $22 billion in other services. While the food cost is higher, that one is easier to manage for most pet owners due to its regularity and expected nature. Veterinary care, by contrast, is harder to anticipate. Unexpected vet bills as a result of accidents or injuries are the most common driver of high pet care costs.
No one wants their precious pet to be hurt or sick, but making sure a pet gets the care they need can cost thousands of dollars. A great way to mitigate against unexpected vet bills is to be proactive with your pet and keep them healthy. 80% of pet owners bring their pets to the veterinarian at least once a year. Doing so helps catch issues early and allows preventative care to be administered.
Pet Insurance Can Keep Your Bills Down
Another tool that can ward against high vet bills is pet insurance. Over 3 million pets in the US today have health coverage in some form. Plans range in coverage from routine care to accident and illness protection, with premiums shifting accordingly. Insurance is an expense in itself, but it can prevent higher payouts later. Not all premiums are high; for cats, premiums average about 40% less than dogs. Insurers may also offer discounts for service dogs or multiple pet households.
Keep in mind, however, that insurance may not cover everything. Dental harm, unless caused by an accident, as well as breed-specific conditions often aren’t covered by pet insurance. Pre-existing conditions, including most congenital conditions, are not covered. In the end, it’s up to the owner to decide the best way to preserve their pet’s health. Learn more about the pet industry in the infographic below: