Pricey Pets: How to Combat the Rising Cost of Pet Ownership

Whether they’re playing in the park or snuggling on the sofa, pets bring endless love, joy and companionship to their owner’s lives. It’s even proven they enhance their owner’s physical and mental well-being, affecting everything from heart health and longevity to anxiety, depression and social isolation.

The rewards of the human-animal bond are so tangible that pet ownership has steadily increased over the last 20 years, with 75% of U.S. employees now owning at least one pet1. However, as new pet parents often shockingly discover, it can be expensive to care for their furry family members in the way they deserve. Over the last decade, pet care costs have increased by 68%2, and in 2020, U.S. pet industry expenditures rose to an all-time high of $103.6 billion3.

Where are all those billions going? Along with adoption fees, spaying or neutering, and other expenses incurred in the first year of ownership, your employees will need to cover ongoing costs3 that can total hundreds or thousands of dollars annually, depending on their pets’ breed, gender and species. These may include:

  • Food
  • Grooming
  • Vaccinations
  • Flea and heartworm control
  • Boarding Medical and dental care

That last category is a big one. About 30% of the 2020 total, or $31.4 billion, was spent on vet care and related product sales4. In addition, beyond routine checkups and nail clippings, the specter of a sudden, serious accident or illness lurks, bringing with it the possibility of thousands more in treatment—and stress.

While your employees may not be deterred by the cost—the average pet owner would pay $11,0005 to save their pet’s life, according to a 2017 poll—large, unexpected vet bills can still lead to long-term financial hardship. On top of that, many of us have experienced the stress of making spur-of-the-moment decisions about expensive treatment when our pets’ health and lives are on the line. It’s not a scenario that any loving pet parent wants to endure.

That’s where pet insurance comes in.

The low price of peace

It’s likely that many of your employees don’t currently have pet insurance—only about 10% of dogs and 5% of cats were covered as of 20186. But when weighing the small monthly price of insurance against the potentially catastrophic costs of an injury, foreign object ingestion, or severe acute illness, it’s clear that being prepared with a pet insurance plan is the smart choice for employees and their animal companions. Not only is pet insurance more reliable than many methods of raising money to pay for vet bills, it comes without the risk of accruing high-interest debt that can take years to pay off7. Pet owners can rest easy, knowing that they’re ready to cope with any emergencies that may arise.

In addition to peace of mind, pet insurance also has a positive impact on employees’ overall contentment. Employers that offer pet insurance as part of a voluntary benefits package enjoy a 32% boost in employee attraction, engagement and retention. What’s more, 69% of employees at these companies say their benefits contribute to their satisfaction with their employer, compared to 55% at companies not offering pet insurance1. With concerns about their pets’ health and their financial situation alleviated, they have more time and energy to focus on their jobs, allowing them to engage fully with their work1. It’s a win-win for everyone—employers, employees and pets alike.

The benefits are clear, so don’t wait. Help your employees learn about the pet insurance options available to them, so they can stop worrying and start preparing for the future. When the unexpected happens, they’ll be glad they did.


  1. 2018 Nationwide/Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) study
  2. 2017–2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey
  3. “Pet ownership costs guide for 2021”
  4. APPA, “Pet Industry Market Size, Trends & Ownership Statistics”
  5. LendEDU Pollifish online poll 2017
  6. “Pets Are Like Family, But as Health Costs Rise, Few Are Insured That Way”
  7. “Is Pet Insurance Worth It? Here’s a Veterinarian’s Perspective”