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Recent pet ownership statistics show that one in five U.S. households invited a new cat or dog into their home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 23 million people added a furry family member during this time and most have full intention of continuing to care for the pet. But being a pet owner involves more than just determining where to find the right pet and choosing a companion. It also involves making decisions surrounding finances, insurance and pet care.
Pet ownership statistics
Pet ownership statistics show ownership levels have reached new highs during the past couple of years. A 2021-2022 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that 70% of households own a pet. Among the 70%, there are 69 million U.S. households that own a dog compared to 45.3 million households that own a cat.
- Consider these other statistics around pet ownership, too:
- Pet ownership continues to increase. 56% of households owned a pet in 1988 compared to the current 70% rate.
- Expenses for pet products, care and services grew to over $103 billion in 2020, compared to $97 billion in 2019.
- During the pandemic, about 30% of Americans adopted at least one pet.
- Gross written pet insurance premiums grew to almost $2 billion in 2020, compared to $1.6 billion in 2019.
- 83% of pet insurance premiums provided coverage for dogs in 2020.
Adopt vs. shop
When a household decides to add a new pet to the family, there is often a question of whether it’s better to rescue from another home or shelter, or purchase from a breeder. Each pet deserves a loving home, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each scenario before deciding.
|Often more affordable than pets from breeders
|Vet expenses and behavioral training may offset the initial lower adoption fee
|More flexibility to seek a desired breed
|Often comes at a steeper price
|Shelters have a variety of pets with different breeds and temperaments
|You may not find the exact breed you prefer
|Pets are usually bred for specific, desirable traits
|Breeders may have a waiting list for certain litters
|Rescue dogs may already have some training and basic skills
|History of the animal could be unknown, including healthcare or past abuse
|You will likely know more about the medical history
|Puppies require additional medical costs the first year
|Older animals can still be trained
|The animal may have special needs the shelter is unaware of
|Many breeders offer health guarantees, such as a guarantee against a genetic defect
|Finding a reputable breeder requires a good deal of research
Key adoption statistics
- While over 3 million pets enter shelters each year, around 4.1 million pets are adopted. This includes 2 million dogs and about 2.1 million cats.
- Around 40% of dog owners and 46% of cat owners found their pet through word of mouth, such as through family and friends.
- Roughly a third of dog owners received their pet’s info from a breeder, compared to 23% of dog owners learning about their pet from a shelter.
- While mixed-breeds are most common, 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred.
- When choosing a pet, dogs are most likely to be purchased from a breeder, whereas cats are more likely to be adopted.
- Black cats experience the lowest adoption rates among cats.
- Pit bulls and chihuahuas have some of the lowest adoption rates and are usually eventually euthanized.
- Over 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized each year, although this number has declined from 2.6 million in 2011 due to increased adoption rates.
- Behavioral and health issues are the most common causes of pets being rehomed.
- One way to reduce the likelihood of needing to rehome a pet is to have a clear understanding of all the expenses associated with being a responsible pet owner ahead of adoption.
Estimated cost of pet ownership
Upfront pet expenses
The table below illustrates estimated cost breakdowns of fees due at the time of adoption. While these are based on shelter animals, many of these costs are comparable to purchasing through a breeder. Keep in mind some of the costs are also recurring expenses, such as heartworm and flea medicine, which may need to be purchased on a regular basis.
The costs below are estimates. Pet adoption prices vary by shelter, age, breed and size of the pet, according to Petfinder. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay around $425-$880 for pet adoption costs.
|Physical and behavioral exams
|Flea and tick prevention
|Heartworm tests: $15-35
|Leukemia tests: $30-50
Purchasing from a breeder can add an even more substantial amount to the cost and fees, depending on the popularity of the breed. For example, French bulldogs cost up to $4,000 on average, while golden retrievers average up to $3,000. Each breeder sets their own costs, which may or may not include fees like spaying or neutering. Be sure to check what costs are included upfront so you know which petcare measures have been taken by the breeder and which ones you might need to handle on your own.
Exotic dog breeds tend to be even more costly due to their rareness and pricey medical expenses. Rare breeds like a Samoyed, for example, could have up to a $14,000 price tag according to estimates from Prudent Pet Insurance.
Recurring pet expenses
Costs related to pet adoption or purchase may seem a bit overwhelming initially, but the expenses are typically only higher in the first year of pet ownership. A pet’s weight and size are two influencing factors, as larger dogs and cats require higher food quantities and medicine dosages.
Petfinder has compiled a list of average common costs to consider when planning to add a new dog or cat to your home.
|Recurring costs for dogs
|Recurring costs for cats
|Flea and tick prevention
|$40-200 (depending on weight)
|$20-200 (depending on weight)
|Vaccines and wellness
|Emergency vet visit
|$300-1,000+ (depending on severity)
|$1,000+ (depending on severity)
|Up to $1,200/year (depending on coat)
|$300+/year (depending on coat)
|Approximately $250/year (for beginner classes)
|Pet sitting and boarding
|Treats, toys and/or scratching post
|$0-50 (considering scratching posts)
|Bed and crate/carrier
|$25-250 (depending on size)
|$40-175 (depending on size)
Insuring your pet and property
As the number of pet owners rises, so does interest in pet insurance. Insuring a pet can fall into two different categories: pet insurance and/or property insurance, such as a homeowners insurance policy. Pet insurance is a separate policy that covers a pet’s medical expenses. With homeowners insurance, coverage exists for pet liability like a dog bite that occurs on your property.
In addition to having adequate homeowners or renters insurance, you may want to consider adding pet insurance. Like regular health insurance, pet insurance is designed to cover medical bills for needs ranging from ingesting poison to treating lacerations. While pet insurance is optional, having it may prevent you from covering surprise veterinary bills out of pocket and could be especially useful for accident-prone or special needs pets. Some breeds have a history of expensive medical conditions, such as English bulldogs, which often have eye problems.
Comparing multiple pet insurance policies can help you find both the right price and right fit. Animal breed, age, weight and pre-existing conditions will all influence what type of policy is best for you and your pet.
Key pet insurance statistics:
- The average pet insurance premium is $594 annually for dogs and $342 annually for cats.
- Pet health professionals and insurance companies part of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) make up 99% of all active pet insurance policies in the U.S. and Canada.
- Nearly 3.45 million pets were insured in North America by the end of 2020, according to NAPHIA.
Pet insurance is geared towards medical bills for your pet, while a homeowners or renters insurance policy covers medical costs associated with pet bites. Although homeowners insurance policies do not cover property damage caused by your pet (such as from teething or scratching), it does cover medical expenses if someone has to be treated as a result of a bite or scratch from your pet. Before you bring home a new pet, it’s good to review the liability limits of your homeowners or renters insurance policy in case someone else is injured by your pet while visiting your home.
- In 2020, over 47,000 surgeries were performed by plastic surgeons for dog bite repair, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
- Children are the most common victims of dog bites, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- One in five people bitten by a dog require medical attention.
Inviting a new pet into your home is a great way to add excitement and happiness to your atmosphere. However, doing so requires a financial commitment, including first-year costs and ongoing recurring expenses. In addition to adoption or breeder cost considerations, you also need to factor in medical care and food expenses. With the financial responsibility of owning a pet, looking into additional coverage can be beneficial, such as adding pet insurance to your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Properly planning for a pet ahead of time can help ensure both your and your pet’s needs are being met.