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Pet Parenting Costs on the Rise in the US: Here Are Some Money-Saving Tips

Not just first-time pet owners but even veteran owners are taken by surprise when it comes to emergency costs.
Cover Image Source: Keeping pets is expensive (representative image) | Pexels | Photo by Pixabay
Cover Image Source: Keeping pets is expensive (representative image) | Pexels | Photo by Pixabay

Pet parenting is an emotional decision but also an expensive one. Turns out, most pet parents overlook the latter part as they underestimate the costs associated with it. This is not just for first-time pet owners as even veteran owners are taken by surprise when it comes to emergency costs. According to a Metlife survey, an average pet owner (of dogs or cats) spent about $4,800 in 2023. Furthermore, exotic animals, small animals, reptiles, fish, etc. can come with bug financial burden.

Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Lum3n
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Lum3n

According to a 2022 survey conducted by Synchrony, nearly half of the respondent pet owners said they had underestimated the lifetime cost of taking care of a pet. Veterinarian Dr. Evan Antin added to the findings saying that he sees it in practice as well in a Vox report. “Even with a healthy pet, you do want to look at the fact that you’re going to be spending, even on just the veterinary care, probably a couple hundred bucks a year at least,” he said.

The Metlife survey also included a breakdown of costs in which vet visits took up the largest share, with pet owners spending $1,242 on pet visits, $633 for food, $645 for treats, $585 for toys, $598 for clothes, and $176 for leisure splurges.


There are several factors behind the increasing costs of pet care. The biggest of the costs, veterinary care increased multi-fold in the past few years as the demand skyrocketed due to record rates of pet adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just between July 2022 and July 2023, the price of veterinary care rose 11 percent, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index

Further, inflation and the increasing cost of medical supplies add to higher pet care costs. According to the Vox report, the veterinary industry is also undergoing a massive change. Single practice owners and family practice owners are disappearing as more practices are being bought up by large corporations, Dr. Antin said in the report.


The increased demand for veterinary care coupled with a veterinarian shortage, has also triggered a steady increase in the cost of veterinary school tuition as well. According to Dr Antin, there are not enough seats at veterinarian schools to fulfill the need for future vets. Additionally, new veterinarians are in such high demand that many practices are attracting them with hefty signing bonuses, which in turn leads to higher costs for pet owners. Dr. Antin said that emergency visits of “ten thousand and $20,000 problems are becoming far more common these days.”


Perform preventive care: Care such as tick medicines, oral health care, nutritional care, joint care and more can go a long way in fighting steep expenses and prolonging the life of pets.

Get pet insurance: Pet insurance can save pet owners a lot of money in the long run. Considering the high costs of emergency care, pet insurance can indeed save a fortune.

Consider telehealth options: Pets may not always need a vet visit for smaller issues and problems. A teleconsultation can help in such cases and save pet owners a lot of money. 

Consider spaying/neutering of pets: While some pet owners don’t like the practice, it can indeed protect the pet’s health in the long term and save money for owners.

Look for coupons and cashback: While shopping for pet essentials, pet owners should seek applicable coupons and discounts or use a cash-back payment portal or website to save some money.