Inflation Putting A Squeeze On Pet Owners

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The double-whammy of inflation and rising rents has been difficult for pet parents. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of pet owners said inflation has made it more difficult to pay a surprise vet bill, according to a Forbes Advisor survey of 2,000 dog and cat owners.

Some pet parents have made the tough decision to give up their pets. Of the pet owners who gave away or sold their pet in the past year, 12% cited inflation as the primary reason they gave up their pet. And, 10% said the cost of rent has caused them to move to a new apartment that is not pet friendly. Expensive pet deposits required by landlords were cited by 5% of pet owners as the primary reason they gave their pet away.

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What is the primary reason that you sold or gave your pet away?

Reason you sold or gave your pet away % of respondents
Inflation has made it too expensive for me to afford the everyday expenses of a pet such as food and veterinary care. 12%
The rising cost of rent has caused me to move to a new apartment that isn’t pet-friendly. 10%
I can’t afford a pet’s medical bills. 7%
The pet deposit required by landlords is too expensive. 5%
The pet was too much work. 3%
I was working remotely when I got my pet and am now required to work in the office. 2%
Other reason 48%
Prefer not to say 13%

A Surprise Vet Bill Of $999 Or Less Would Cause Many Pet Owners To Go Into Debt

Unexpected accidents and illnesses happen. But the surprise vet bill that accompanies injuries and sickness could also cause financial harm.

A vet bill of $999 or less would cause 42% of pet owners to go into debt. More than a quarter (28%) of respondents said a vet bill of $499 or less would cause them to go into debt.

Many pet parents (44%) pay their vet bills with a credit card, while 18% said they dipped into their savings account. Some pet owners (5%) said they took out a loan to pay for vet bills.

Which of the following vet bill amounts would cause you to go into debt?

Vet bill amount % of respondents
$1-$99 5%
$100-$199 6%
$200-$299 7%
$300-$499 10%
$500-$999 14%
$1,000-$4,999 24%
$5,000+ 18%
None of the above 12%
Prefer not to say 5%

Pet Insurance Can Offset Vet Bills But Most Pet Owners Skip It

More than three-quarters (79%) of pet owners said they do not have pet insurance and nearly one-third (30%) said they are much less likely or somewhat less likely to pay for pet insurance amid inflation. But pet owners would be wise to consider pet insurance. It’s a good way to offset surprise vet bills for accidents and illnesses, like a torn ACL or cancer.

And it may be much more affordable than you think. Pet insurance costs an average of $35 a month for dogs and $28 a month for cats, according to a Forbes Advisor analysis of pet insurance rates. That includes $5,000 of annual coverage for both accidents and injuries, a $250 deductible and a 90% reimbursement level.

Here’s a scenario to consider:

  • Say your playful pup accidentally tears its cruciate ligament while chasing a ball and the vet bill is $4,000.
  • You have pet insurance that includes $5,000 annual coverage for accidents and injuries, a $250 deductible and a 90% reimbursement level.
  • Your out-of-pocket cost for your vet expenses is $625 ($250 deductible + 10% of $3,750 = $625).
  • Without pet insurance, you would have paid $4,000. With pet insurance, you save $3,375.

Considering 42% of pet owners would go into debt because of a vet bill of $999 or less, pet insurance is an affordable way to help offset vet costs and avoid making a difficult decision: Forgo medical treatment for your pet or pay a big vet bill out of pocket.


This online survey of 2,000 current and past dog and cat owners in the U.S. was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s (MRS) code of conduct. Data was collected July 29 through Aug. 8, 2022. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 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).