The increasing cost of dog ownership is taking a financial toll on pup parents in the United States. We surveyed 1,000 dog owners nationwide and found that in the past year, many have gone into debt, taken a second job or cut back on personal spending to afford the cost of pet ownership.
- 91% of people say they’ve experienced some degree of financial stress in the past year related to the cost of pet care.
- 66% of people say they’ve cut back on personal spending in response.
- 65% of people say they’ve had to ask friends or family for money.
- 33% of people say they’ve taken a second job or looked for new income opportunities.
The cost of dog ownership
From dog food and vet care costs to pet insurance and doggy daycare expenses, the cost of pet ownership can add up.
- More than a quarter of Americans we surveyed (26%) spend $51 to $100 a month on their dog.
- An equal number (26%) spend between $101 and $250 per month on dog care.
- Roughly 1% of survey respondents spend more than $5,000 on dog-related expenses each month.
When broken down by age and region of the country, monthly spending by dog owners varies.
- People aged 18 to 26 (27%) and those living in the Midwest (17%) are the most likely to spend $500 or more each month on their dog.
- People aged 59 to 77 (22%) and dog owners living in the Southeast (31%) are the most likely to spend $50 or less per month on their dog.
Learn more: Best pet insurance
Financial strain of pet ownership
Dogs are part of the family, but keeping them healthy is becoming increasingly expensive. The cost of pet food is up 25% since 2020, and vet care is now 11% more expensive than it was in 2022.
The majority of people we surveyed (91%) said the cost of pet care led them to experience some degree of financial stress this year.
How dog owners cope with the financial stress of pet care
To keep up with rising costs of pet ownership, about two thirds of people we surveyed (66%) said they have cut back on things they want or need. Others have reached out for financial help or gone into debt to afford animal care.
- Many dog owners (65%) have asked for money from family or friends.
- Nearly half of respondents (47%) have gone into debt to pay for animal care.
- A third of dog owners (33%) have looked for ways to earn more to care for their pup.
Sacrifices on spending to cover dog costs
In order to keep up with pet costs, survey respondents have cut back in a number of ways.
- Sixty-six percent said the cost of dog care meant they had to cut back on basic necessities like food and personal health care.
- More than half of dog owners (55%) have delayed or cut back on veterinary services.
- Almost half of respondents (48%) made decisions about educational opportunities based on the cost of caring for their dog.
- Sixteen percent of those surveyed couldn’t afford to spay or neuter their pet.
Respondents were allowed to choose multiple options, so people may be cutting back in multiple areas.
How to save money on pet care
More than half of survey respondents (51%) reported skipping on pet insurance in order to save money. But this choice could have the opposite effect on a pet owner’s budget if their dog has an unexpected, costly health emergency.
The average cost of pet insurance for dogs is $45 a month for an accident and illness policy with $5,000 of annual coverage. Dog insurance with unlimited annual coverage costs an average of about $10 more per month.
Pet insurance covers a wide range of issues, from broken bones to cancer. A standard accident and illness policy will reimburse you for a percentage of your pet’s covered expenses, such as diagnostics, procedures and medications.
Many pet health insurance plans also have the option to add a wellness plan. Doing so will increase the cost of your pet insurance policy, but it will also provide additional preventative care benefits for your dog. Some wellness plans cover spaying and neuteringfor instance, which 16% of survey respondents mentioned delaying to cut costs.
Other routine care covered by some wellness plans includes dental exams and vaccinations. Keeping up with your dog’s health and dental care can help cut pet care costs in the long run, by reducing the risk of expensive but avoidable health issues.
This online survey of 1,000 American dog owners was commissioned by USA TODAY Blueprint and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s (MRS) code of conduct. Data was collected from August 14 to August 18, 2023. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of the MRS and has corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).