Personal Finance

Inflation is spiking the cost of pet parenthood yet owners are still splurging on care

Key Points
  • More than 70% of dog parents have noticed the rising costs of food, treats, toys and veterinary visits, and 73% worry about prices continuing to grow.
  • However, many pet owners are still willing to splurge on quality food, specialized services and eco-friendly products.
Halfpoint Images | Moment | Getty Images

Pet parenthood is getting more expensive, but many owners are still willing to splurge, according to a report from Rover, an online pet marketplace.

Rising costs and inflation are a growing concern for Americans, affecting everyday expenses like groceries, gasoline and housing. Pet parents are also feeling the sting, according to the report analyzing data from more than 1,000 U.S. dog owners. 

More than 70% of pet parents have spent more on food, treats, toys and veterinary visits, and 73% worry about prices continuing to grow, the report found.

Indeed, annual inflation for pet food rose by 3.7% in February, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and pet services, including veterinary care, spiked by 5.8%.  

More from Personal Finance:
Here's how retirees can navigate inflation
Skyrocketing inflation is taking a big bite out of your paycheck
Here's what the Fed's rate hike means for borrowers, savers and homeowners

"Like most consumer goods and services across the globe, the cost of many pet products has increased in the past year," said Kate Jaffe, trend expert at Rover. "Despite these rising costs, Americans are still splurging like never before for their beloved pets."

For example, nutritious and fresh-ingredient food is a popular splurge item, the report shows, with the majority of pet owners willing to spend extra.

Personalized services, such as dog walking and sitting, particularly for city-dwellers, is also a priority for pet parents. Many are willing to pay extra for "green" products, like biodegradable poop bags, and some will shell out for smart pet tech devices.

These findings may suggest pets and their well-being "aren't discretionary expenses, but rather part of the mandatory family budget," Jaffe said.

Pandemic pets exhibit alarming stress levels as owners return to work
Pandemic pets exhibit alarming stress levels as owners return to work

These findings align with a 2021 report from the American Pet Products Association, showing that 35% of owners spent more on pet supplies over the past 12 months, and 51% are willing to pay more for "ethically sourced" and "eco-friendly" products. 

The percentage of U.S. homes with pets has continued to grow during the pandemic, reaching an estimated 70% in 2022, compared to 67% in 2021, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Costs vary by breed

Generally, dog parents spend about $100 to $149 per month, regardless of location, according to Rover's findings. Of course, expenses may vary based on unique needs and lifestyle.

However, if you're ready to adopt a dog and worried about your budget, you may compare the average costs by breed, Jaffe suggested.

For example, mixed breeds, dachshunds and chihuahuas are typically less expensive, costing less than $100 per month.

And while Labrador retrievers, surprisingly, may cost between $50 and $99 per month, golden retrievers are on the higher end, with owners spending $100 to more than $150 per month.

"Breed factors [into the cost of dog parenthood] on a number of levels," said Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, veterinary medical advisor for Rover. "At its very simplest, it could be about size, and size is a huge governing factor in costs.

"Medicines are dosed based on body weight, for example," she noted.