A National Dog Day survey finds we spend an average of $1,836 a year on our dogs — and some of us, thousands more.
Pets are doggone expensive.
More than half of American households have a pet. And while most pet parents think that owning a dog costs them $26 to $75 a month, a Rover.com released just in time for National Dog Day on Sunday finds that dog lovers are actually dropping $153 a month on average. That adds up to a whopping $1,836 a year. Woof.
And all of that cash isn’t just going to kibble. The Cost of Dog Ownership Survey from the pet sitting and walking network surveyed 1,500 adults with canine companions this summer, and found that one in four has pampered their pooch by buying it a massage; 45% of dog people would take their dog out for a special meal for its birthday; and one in three owners would spend more than $250 on a special gift for their pup.
What’s more, Americans spent about $17 billion last year on veterinary care, according to The Wall Street Journal (which is owned by the same parent company as Moneyish.) Per pet, that includes $257 for the routine care of dogs and $182 for cats — but those medical costs skyrocket if a pet becomes seriously ill or injured. So more pet owners are also opting for pet health insurance, which hit $1 billion in annual premiums for the first time in 2017.
This all aligns with a 2017 survey from the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants Americans, which found that dog owners in its report spent an average of $1,560 per year on their furry friends. That price tag came as a shock to many of those pet parents, as well, since about one in four said that pet ownership is far more expensive than they expected.
To cover these unexpected costs, about three in four pet owners (76%) told the AICPAA that they would make financial sacrifices to pay for whatever their pets wanted or needed. And of those willing to make a financial sacrifice for Fido: 79% say they’d give up eating out at restaurants; 67% would give up their vacation; 61% would shun cable and TV streaming; and 35% would ditch their cell phones. The respondents in the Rover.com report would give up alcohol (28%), takeout and food delivery (25%) and coffee (20%) to dote on their dogs.
Pet owners are even wrecking their financial futures to provide for their fur babies. More than one in three (37%) in the AICPAA report would sacrifice contributions to their retirement account to pay for pet-related expenses. And one in four (27%) would skip paying their credit card bill to pay for their pet’s expenses, “leading to potential penalties, interest rate hikes and a lowered credit score,” the survey revealed.
Of course, most pet owners say it’s totally worth it.
University of Miami student Rachael Schaeffer, 23, mom to one-and-a-half-year-old mini labradoodle Cody, says she’s shelled out at least $6,000 in the past seven months on a variety of pet-related expenses. “Imagine the startup costs — you have toys, beds, all these [items] you want to get new,” she said.
Furthermore, Cody has multiple health issues, such as the kennel cough that he already had when Schaeffer rescued him, or the more recent stomach ulcer that he had to have treated. So the costs of Cody’s medication ($80 per month), dog food ($40 per month) and training to help manage his anxiety ($1,300 for six sessions) have added up.
Schaeffer has cut spending on personal entertainment to pay for some of these costs. “I stopped going out with my friends… I didn’t order drinks [at restaurants]. I wouldn’t Uber,” she said. “It’s just the little things where I could cut down.”
But she says that’s just part of life as a pet mom. “With all living things, unexpected events arise. It’s a responsibility to put [Cody] first,” she said. “Dogs cannot take care of themselves; they’re like babies in that sense.”
Others — like Linda Weiner, 47, of Boston — have even needed loans to cover pet care. Weiner normally spends roughly $2,000 a year on her 9-year-old dog, Max, although her expenses recently spiked due to a $5,000 surgery to remove his spleen.
“I don’t have $5,000 in spare change,” Weiner told Moneyish. So she took a loan from her father to cover the procedure on credit, and is now paying him back on a monthly basis. “It will take a year to pay this off,” Weiner said, noting she’s sacrificed going out “for drinks with friends,” buying multiples of the same item of clothing (like sweaters or jeans), or going to the movies.
Still for most owners, the cost of their canines is a small price to pay for the love they get back, which is priceless. “I’d rather pay for his vet bills and make sure [Cody is] healthy and happy than go out for dinner twice a week,” Schaeffer concluded. “He’s like my best friend.”
This article was originally published in December 2017, and has been updated with new data for National Dog Day.
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