How Many Financial Sacrifices Will Americans Make for Their Pets?

December 20, 2017, Written By Natalie Rutledge

It’s no secret that people love their pets. According to a new survey from the American Institute of CPAs, Americans are often willing to make significant financial sacrifices for their furry companions.

Approximately one in four survey participants said caring for a pet was more expensive than they expected. Respondents spent an average of $130 per month or $1,560 per year on their pets. That includes the cost of food, grooming, regular vet checkups, and other routine expenses. That may not sound like much, but it is when you consider that 57% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.

But caring for a pet does not just include routine expenses. During a pet emergency, most Americans are forced to re-evaluate their monthly budget to cover this expense. 79% said they would give up eating out to cover the cost of an emergency vet bill, but a surprising 67% said they would cancel or reschedule a vacation to pay for the treatment. Other responses included giving up cable or TV streaming (61%), delaying contributions to a retirement account (37%), changing their cell phone plan (35%), and not paying credit card bills (27%).

Americans spent $66 billion on their pets last year, and they are projected to spend $69 billion this year. That includes $16 billion in vet care, as well as $6 billion in “other services,” such as holiday gifts.

Ideally, if you plan your finances well, you should not have to make major financial sacrifices to cover emergency pet costs. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Before you commit to any pet, thoroughly research how much the annual costs will be. Consider potential health issues that some breeds are known for, as well as the volume of food you will need to buy (small dogs eat less than large dogs).
  • Watch for vet service bundles that come available during certain times of the year. For instance, your vet may offer free vaccines for life, where you pay a flat rate for the first appointment and the subsequent vaccines are free. You simply pay the appointment fee.
  • Put aside a small portion of money each month to cover unexpected vet costs, in addition to money you accumulate for personal savings. If you treat both of these like monthly bills, you are more apt to commit to them.
  • If you have to use a line of credit for vet expenses, see if your vet accepts CareCredit. You may also use a personal credit card with a low interest rate, as long as you create a repayment plan to get out of debt quickly.
  • Buy pet supplies in bulk to reduce your cost per item (namely food, treats and medicine). Wait to buy toys when they go on clearance, like holiday-themed toys that get discounted after the holiday has passed. Your pet will not know the difference.


The information contained within this article was accurate as of December 20, 2017. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Natalie Rutledge

Natalie Rutledge majored in Communications at Mississippi State University. She was in sales for a number of businesses and spent nine years working as a communications advisor to various entities. Natalie can be contacted directly at [email protected]
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