Here are the biggest lessons pet parents have to learn

·5-min read

Most pet owners spare no expense when it comes to their furry family members.

The average pet owner spends over $4,500 on their pet's basic needs every year, according to new research.

Two in five pet parents agree that having a pet is just as, if not more, expensive than raising a child and 61% confirm that having a pet is more costly than they initially thought.

A survey of 2,000 dog and cat owners looked at their spending habits regarding their furry companions and found that half of respondents said they spend more money on their pets every year than they do on themselves (52%).

Conducted by OnePoll in partnership with MetLife for Pet Wellness Month, the survey also found that three in five pet parents specifically allocate about $200 from each paycheck just for their pet's necessities.

Unsurprisingly, food came out first on the list of both the most repurchased and expensive pet items, followed by toys, flea/tick treatment and medicine.

But being a pet parent can come with surprises, too — 27% didn't expect that they'd have to invest in stain/odor removers, and 26% had no idea that a pet first aid kit would come in handy.

Overall, taking care of their pet's health isn't cheap, as one-third of pet parents said they usually end up exceeding their budget by at least $500 whenever they take their pet to the vet.

Pet parents average that expensive medications/treatments for their pets are only $60 less than ones for themselves. Still, 74% said cost doesn't matter — as long as they can make sure their pet is healthy, happy and safe.

It's no surprise that pet parents want to do the most to ensure their pet's health, especially since they're likely to worry when they aren't with them an average of three times a week.

Additionally, more than half of respondents worry about their pet's health more than their own (58%).

"For many pet parents, their animals are more than just 'furry friends' - they are part of the family,"

said Katie Blakeley, vice president and head of pet insurance at MetLife. "However, with all the joys of having a pet also comes financial stress, as many pet parents are willing to take on almost any cost to ensure that their pets are happy and healthy."

Although seven in 10 expect that their pet is most expensive to care for in their younger years, 74% of people are more worried about their furry friend's health and how they'll recover as they age. The top health concerns are over their pet's mobility issues (43%) or developing cancer (39%).

Sixty-two percent of pet parents are concerned about their pet developing illnesses because they might not be able to afford the cost of their pet's health over time.

Despite these financial concerns, 58% of respondents haven't yet signed up for pet insurance to help cover their furry friends' health expenses. 

The data showed that those respondents might be concerned about pet insurance since one in four admitted they were confused by the process (26%). 

When asked about which tasks were the most overwhelming, learning about pet insurance came out on top (32%), followed by preparing their taxes (28%), repairing their car (27%), or dealing with their health insurance (27%).

"Pet insurance is a powerful resource for any pet parent to consider. By providing income protection in the event of accidental injury or illness, pet insurance helps pet parents consider the health of their furry friend - not the cost of their care - first. Pet parents should feel empowered to talk to their employer about what options are available, and if pet insurance is right for them," added Blakeley.

ITEMS PET PARENTS SPEND THE MOST ON ANNUALLY

BIGGEST LESSONS PET PARENTS HAVE LEARNED

ENDS

  1. Food

  2. Medication

  3. Flea/tick treatment

  4. Bedding/blankets

  5. Training pads

  • "A dog can be way more than a pet and can save your life if you struggle with mental health"

  • "Always love your baby and always be there for them. They are just like people and you never know what can happen"

  • "Be patient and just love them. They will mess up and it's okay. Just keep being there for them, training them, and loving them and they will learn"

  • "Dogs are better friends than most humans"

  • "In this time of pandemic the biggest lesson I have learned from my pets is that they are a vital support for my mental health and that of my family"

  • "Need to take more time out of your day for your pet"

  • "Never a dull moment- there is no set routine, always surprises"

  • "Pets are part of the family and should be treated as such"

  • "The biggest lesson I have learned from having pets my whole life is to take as much time with them as you can. Play, rub their belly, walk them, play ball, take them for car rides as much as you can because they have short life spans"

  • "Treat your animals with love and they will love you unconditionally and bring many years of happiness and smiles"

  • "When deciding to have a pet, make sure you are ready for it, as hard as having a baby"

  • "When you take good care of them, they also take good care of you"

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