Record pet care prices have some pet owners making tough decisions

Pets give us unconditional love, cuddles on the couch, a buddy to “talk to” (what, just me?) and, sadly, dollar signs – lots of dollar signs.

The cost of having a pet has been steadily rising recently. But over the past year, the price tag for keeping Fido fed and healthy has skyrocketed, leaving many wondering how they’ll care for their furry, scaly or furry friend.

Croquettes are expensive

Pet food, a necessity for pets, is rising in cost – and fast. In September, the pet food consumer price index was up nearly 14% from a year ago. By comparison, the food (human) CPI Pink by more than 11 percent.

What if your pet is… sick as a dog? Vet bills are higher than ever.

The costs of veterinary care are also rising. According to government data, prices for veterinary services have jumped 10% in the past year, the biggest increase in 20 years, according to the Washington Post. reported this month.

Why is this happening? There are a few factors at play. In August, wages for hourly workers, which make up a good chunk of the cost of running a clinic, rose 7% from last year, the newspaper reported. That’s faster than the 5% average for all hourly workers.

Costs for medical supplies, lab test fees and pharmaceuticals are also rising, according to the article. Finally, some independent veterinarians blame corporate acquisitions of clinics and hospitals.

“One of the factors driving the rising cost of pet care is that it increasingly mimics human health care,” the paper reported, citing examples of MRI machines, expensive drugs and kidney transplants for cats available in specialized clinics.

Keeping up with all the bills can feel like babysitting; some owners had to reduce …

While a majority of pet owners said their monthly expenses had remained relatively stable despite inflation, 38% said they had to reduce the amount they spent on their pet, according to a recent Forbes. investigation.

Pet owners who only owned dogs were more likely than those who owned cats to spend less now – just 20% of cat owners said they spent less, compared to almost half of dog owners

But while pet owners mostly spend the same amount day in and day out, a surprise vet bill can leave them on the hook. About 28% of respondents said a vet bill under $500 would put them in debt.

While nearly half of pet owners paid their vet bill with a credit card in the past year, 18% had to dip into their savings and 5% said they took out a loan, the data shows. from Forbes.

One way pet owners can offset the costs of surprise medical bills is to purchase a pet insurance policy. Due to inflation, a fifth say they are more likely to take out a policy. That said, four out of five pet owners have not purchased pet insurance, and many of them are no more likely to get one because these policies increase their monthly expenses.

…Or even abandon their best friend

While a large majority of pet owners kept their pets despite rising costs, 3% said they left their pet with an animal shelter, shelter, friend or family member at course of the past year.

Of those who have had to part with their four-legged friend, many cite skyrocketing expenses. About 12% of survey respondents who gave up their pets said inflation made owning and caring for a pet too expensive. About 7% also said their reason was that they couldn’t pay medical bills.

Although shelter attendance is higher in 2022 than it had been in the previous two years, it is still lower than it was in 2019 before the pandemic, according to Shelter Animals Count. Data. A June 2022 study from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) showed that the top reasons pet owners give up on cats and dogs were changes in housing, job changes and the feeling that the animal was too expensive to keep.

And don’t rush to blame the pandemic-born puppy love

There is no research to suggest that pet owners give up recently acquired “pandemic pets” after returning to a pre-pandemic lifestyle, Maureen Linehan, director of media and communications at the ASPCA, wrote to Grid in an email.

“Long before the pandemic, the lack of access to pet-friendly housing and affordable veterinary care was already forcing families to make the difficult choice of parting with their pets,” Linehan wrote.

The pandemic has only exacerbated housing and financial problems, such as inflation, for many pet owners, she added.

For pet owners who may be considering rehoming their pet, the ASPCA suggests enlisting the support of a friend or neighbor, or contacting an area shelter or rescue organization, as staff may often provide advice and assistance in keeping pets at home. .

Thanks to Dave Tepps for writing this article.