Are You One of the 66% of Dog Owners Willing to Sacrifice Your Basic Needs for Your Pet?

From food to vet visits, the cost of owning a pet can add up quickly.
Updated July 11, 2024
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senior couple petting their dog

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We love our pets, but you might be surprised by the lengths people will go to to afford them. A recent survey conducted by USA Today sheds light on the financial strains many dog owners face in their efforts to provide the best care for their furry companions — and almost all people put their dog’s needs before their own.

Here's exactly what people are sacrificing, along with tips on how to take care of your pet while also keeping more money in your bank account.

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Cost of pet ownership is on the rise

Caterina Trimarchi/Adobe business woman reviewing bills

According to the survey, owning a dog is becoming more expensive and placing a significant financial burden on pup parents nationwide. Among the key findings, a staggering 91% of respondents reported experiencing some degree of financial stress in the past year related to the cost of pet care. This stress is exacerbated by the escalating expenses associated with dog ownership.

Notably, more than a quarter of respondents spend between $51 to $100 per month on their canine companions, while an equal amount spend between $101 to $250 monthly on their pup. Strikingly, exactly 1% of survey participants spend over $5,000 on dog-related costs each month, emphasizing the significant financial commitment required to care for a dog in today's economy.

Owners are making sacrifices for their pets

Pixel-Shot/Adobe woman feeding dog at home

To meet the financial demands of pet ownership, dog owners are making considerable sacrifices. Two-thirds of dog owners (66%) are willing to cut back on basic necessities like food, clothing, and housing for their furry friend. Other sacrifices cited include travel (62%), home improvement (61%), and education (48%).

And for those who can’t cut back enough, a substantial portion of respondents (65%) have asked friends or family for money. Similarly, a third have taken on second jobs or explored additional income opportunities to bolster their finances.

Many pet owners also find it difficult to pay for any medical attention their pet might need. More than 50% of respondents reported delaying or cutting back on veterinary services, for instance, which could potentially jeopardize their pet's health in the process. 

Pet ownership can be affordable

Monkey Business/Adobe mature man walking dog

Despite the costs associated with pet ownership, there are strategies that dog owners can use that will keep their wallets happy. Consider pet insurance, for instance, which can provide financial protection against unexpected veterinary emergencies. By opting for a comprehensive policy with adequate coverage, dog owners can safeguard their finances while prioritizing their pet's health and welfare.

Dog owners can also leverage discounts, promotions, and loyalty programs offered through pet stores and veterinary offices. Additionally, practicing preventive care measures — such as regular exercise, proper nutrition, and routine vaccinations — can help minimize the risk of potential health issues.

Bottom line

Melinda Nagy/Adobe woman with dog in hammock

While pets bring a world of joy, dog owners need to be mindful of the financial responsibilities that come with caring for their companions. By understanding the costs involved ahead of time, individuals can adequately budget for pet ownership without feeling like they’re sacrificing the love, care, and attention their furry friends deserve — or their own financial well-being.

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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.