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The True Cost of Pet Ownership 

The True Cost of Pet Ownership 
Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2023 by Pets Best

How your employees and their pets can be ready for the ups and downs of pet ownership 

When you’re preparing to bring home your new pet, you likely plan for the obvious expenses, like adoption fees, food, bowls, toys, and a bed. However, many unexpected costs can come up. And since prices are increasing all the time, it can be easy to underestimate not only the cost of pet ownership, but also the need for pet insurance. 

But knowledge is power. If you have an idea of what to expect, you can be prepared to provide for your beloved cat or dog, even when the going gets tough. Learn about all the costs involved in pet ownership—and then find pet insurance that will fit your employee’s needs. 

The overall cost of pet ownership 

According to a 2022 study by Synchrony, the lifetime cost of caring for a cat is $15,000 to $45,000, and the lifetime cost of caring for a dog is $20,000 to $55,000. About half of pet parents surveyed in the “Lifetime of Care” study admitted that they underestimated these costs.In fact, one out of every three pet owners will face an unexpected bill that causes them financial worry. 

The yearly cost of owning a dog, averages between $1,300 to $2,800. According to the survey, this breaks down to include: 

  • Food (excluding treats): $434 to $684. 
  • Basic veterinary care (like vaccinations, medicine, antiparasitic, and dental care): $534 to $1,285 
  • Treats, toys, and grooming supplies: $231 to $551 
  • Cleaning products, pet costumes, and other pet costs: $70 to $283 

For a cat, the cost is $960 to $2,500 on average. Here’s how that breaks down: 

  • Cat food: $351 to $584 
  • Basic veterinary care$374 to $965 
  • Treats, cat toys, and grooming supplies: $169 to $698 
  • cleaning products, pet costumes, and other costs: $66 to $239 

For both cats and dogs, these costs above don’t include things like initial adoption fees and microchips, spaying or neutering, or technology you might invest in, like smart feeders, health monitors, or trackers. 

Unexpected expenses can catch employees by surprise 

The cost of veterinary care is rising, and for good reason—the quality-of-care pets receive is top-notch. When it comes to preventive medicine and treating emergencies, anyone would only want the best for their dog or cat. But many pet owners say a bill of just $250 is enough to make them nervous. 

In the Lifetime of Care study, pet owners shared some of the expenses and costly conditions that caught them by surprise. These included things like kidney disease, hair loss, a pet getting hurt, cancer, surgeries, a pet eating something that was toxic, allergic reactions, vaccinations, urinary blockages, weight loss, tooth problems, or unexpected growths. 

For example, some male cats are more prone to having urinary tract issues than others. Serious UTI issues can even mimic the symptoms of crystals in urine, which are less severe but still require care. Either way, you can’t put off seeing your veterinarian if your cat has an UT issue, because it can become life-threatening fast. 

In addition, about one in five dogs will experience joint issues at some point in their lives. About 14 million adult dogs in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, and about 90% of cats over 12 have evidence of it too. So, the chance that your pet may need veterinary care for joint issues at some point is high. 

How can employees prepare for the unexpected? 

Of course, none of this should dissuade someone from adopting a dog or cat and enjoying the warmth and unconditional love they can bring to life. Many loving pets need “furever homes” and would be overjoyed to join a family. But they must prepare for the unexpected so HR can help employees should the financial need arise. 

A good way to do this is by incorporating pet insurance into your benefits mix, like Pets Best. Once employees are signed up, they can rest assured that their pet’s needs are covered, and they won’t have that financial stress of delaying a veterinary visit due to cost. 

When choosing pet insurance, look into what the plan covers, the different coverage levels, deductible options, and how reimbursement works. And check out any extras that may come with the policy or adding on a wellness plan.  

About Pets Best Pet Insurance 

PetsBest policyholders have access to a 24/7 Pet Helpline where veterinary experts are ready to answer their questions day and night, which can also help when the unexpected happens. Get started by requesting a quote from Pets Best

Pet Insurance coverage offered and administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC and underwritten by American Pet Insurance Company, a New York insurance company headquartered at 6100 4th Ave. S. Suite 200 Seattle, WA 98108. Please visit to review all available pet health insurance products.