how inflation is impacting pet owners

How Inflation is Impacting U.S. Pet Owners

Lily Velez
By Lily Velez
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See our advertising disclosure.

According to data recently published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual inflation rate in the U.S. reached a staggering high of 9.1% for the 12-month period ending in June 2022, making it the largest increase since November 1981 and, in the eyes of many Americans, the top problem facing the nation today.  

Goods that have seen the highest increases in the country include food (especially meat), electricity, airline fares, household cleaning products, and even rent. 

One subset of the population that’s especially feeling the strain of inflation are pet owners. In addition to needing to cover the typical household expenses for an individual or family, pet owners must also provide food, supplies, and veterinary services for their companion animals, all goods and services that have also seen unprecedented price hikes during the current state of inflation in the U.S. 

The Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org surveyed 1,000 U.S. pet owners to understand how inflation is impacting Americans with pets and how American pet owners are finding ways to cope with the uncertain financial landscape ahead of them.

 

Inflation in the U.S. and Its Impact on Pet Owners: Highlights

  • -50% of pet owners have had to shop for cheaper alternatives to pet food as a result of inflation. Pet owners have also shopped for cheaper alternatives to pet treats (41%), pet toys (34%), and pet health supplements (28%).
  • -55% of pet owners have had to cancel their pet food subscription on Chewy.com, Amazon.com, or through a raw food/pre-cooked meal service.
  • -Nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) have, in the last 12 months, considered rehoming their pet or surrendering their pet to a shelter or rescue as a result of inflation.
  • -A third of pet owners (33%) have had to cancel their pet’s prescription medication on Chewy.com, Amazon.com, or 1-800-PetMeds.
  • -35% of pet owners have had to reduce the frequency of pet grooming visits as a result of inflation. Pet owners have also reduced the number of times they visit the vet (28%), take their dog to daycare (24%), or leave their pet with a sitter or boarding facility (20%).
  • -46% of pet owners have had to forego or delay veterinary procedures or treatments for their pet, such as dental procedures (20%), X-ray imaging (16%), spaying/neutering (14%), and treatments for ear infections (14%).
  • -22% of pet owners have applied to special services in their state that help pet owners pay for pet-related costs.
  • -73% of pet owners believe a food pantry for pets would be helpful to them during the current period of inflation in the U.S.

 

How Inflation is Affecting the Purchasing Behavior of Pet Owners

Many U.S. households are seeing the impacts on inflation firsthand with every visit to the grocery store. Goods such as meat, poultry, fish, and eggs have risen in price along with fruits and vegetables. Pet owners are also feeling the financial strain when it comes to typical purchases such as pet food, pet treats, pet health supplements and other needed supplies.

In our survey of 1,000 U.S. pet owners, 50% of pet owners say they’ve had to shop for cheaper alternatives to pet food in particular as a result of inflation, and 55% have had to cancel their pet food subscription on Chewy.com, Amazon.com, or through a raw food/pre-cooked meal service.

The trend of shopping for cheaper alternatives continues among goods such as treats (41%), toys (34%), health supplements (28%), and pet furniture such as beds (26%).

 

inflation impact on pet owner purchasing behavior

 

How Inflation is Affecting The Frequency Pet Owners Use Certain Services

Pet owners aren’t only feeling the impact of inflation when it comes to pet food for their companion animals. Households with dogs and cats also rely on services such as pet sitting, dog walking, and of course: veterinary visits in order to keep their companion animals happy and well cared for.

In our survey of 1,000 U.S. pet owners, 35% of pet owners say they’ve had to reduce the frequency of using grooming services for their pet, while 28% have reduced the frequency of vet visits, dog daycare visits (24%), dog walking services (20%), and pet-sitting/boarding services (20%).

 

Inflation Impact on Pet Owner Service Use

 

How Inflation is Affecting How Pet Owners Make Health Decisions for Their Pets

Considering 55% of survey respondents do not currently have health insurance for their pets, it’s no surprise that more than half of survey respondents (53%) say that the cost of veterinary services impact the number of times they take their pet to the vet.

During the current state of inflation in the U.S., 46% of pet owners have had to forego or delay veterinary procedures or treatments for their pets, with the most common being dental procedures (20%), followed by X-ray imaging (16%), spaying/neutering (14%), and ear infection treatment (14%).

Prescription medication has also been impacted by rising costs. A third of pet owners (33%) have had to cancel their pet’s prescription medication on Chewy.com, Amazon.com, or 1-800-PetMeds as a result of inflation.

 

Inflation Impact on Pet Owner Vet Visits

 

What Are Pet Owners’ Biggest Concerns About Inflation When it Comes to Their Pets?

  • -50% of survey respondents say their worry they won’t be able to afford veterinary costs if their pet becomes ill or is involved in an emergency situation.
  • -28% worry they won’t be able to afford pet food any longer, while 23% worry about affording pet supplies.
  • -Over a third of survey respondents (36%) worry they may have to rehome their pet due to increasing costs of living or as a result of moving to more affordable housing that may not be pet-friendly.
  • -Nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) have, in the last 12 months, considered rehoming their pet or surrendering their pet to a shelter/rescue as a result of inflation.

 

How Are Pet Owners Handling Inflation?

  • -44% of pet owners say they’ve charged pet expenses to a credit card as a result of inflation.
  • -22% of pet owners have applied to special services in their state that help pet owners pay for pet-related costs.
  • -38% of pet owners aren’t aware of any special services in their state that help pet owners pay for pet-related costs, but would be interested in applying to any that may exist.
  • -73% of pet owners believe a food pantry for pets would be helpful to them during the current period of inflation in the U.S.

 

Financial Assistance for Pet Owners During Inflation

For pet owners struggling with the financial strain of inflation, there are resources and programs available that can be of assistance.

RedRover provides a comprehensive directory of state programs that provide financial assistance to pet owners, as well as national organizations that help with certain needs. Pet owners can also refer to RedRover’s directory of financial assistance programs by medical condition, by breed, and by need (including assistance with pet food, low-cost spay/neuter resources, and financial assistance).  The organization also offers urgent care grants for pet owners struggling with economic hardship when pets are in life-threatening situations.

The Pet Fund is another organization that provides financial assistance to pet owners in need.

Additionally, pet owners can contact their state’s veterinary medical association to inquire into any available financial assistance programs within their area.

 

 

 

The survey featured in this report was administered online via the survey platform Pollfish and ran from July 20-21, 2022, including no less than 1,000 respondents.