Cost of Pet Ownership Impacting Finances of Some Americans

More than one-third (37%) of respondents to an AICPA survey said they would sacrifice contributions to their retirement account to pay for pet-related expenses.

A new Harris Poll conducted by telephone for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) found that more than half of Americans (54%) have a pet in their home and the cost of that companionship is impacting their finances.


Nearly one-quarter of pet owners (23%) admitted the cost of pet ownership is more than they expected. Food, toys and routine care are foreseeable costs, however, there are additional expenses, such as emergency medical care or boarding, that can arise without warning. If an emergency expense were to present itself, three-quarters of American pet owners (76%) said they would make financial sacrifices to pay for it.


More than one-third (37%) said they would sacrifice contributions to their retirement account to pay for pet-related expenses, putting their own future financial wellbeing at risk. In addition, one-in-four American pet owners (27%) would forego paying their credit card bill to pay for their pet’s expenses, leading to potential penalties, interest rate hikes and a lowered credit score.


Seventy-nine percent shared that they would stop eating at restaurants, and two-thirds (67%) would give up their vacation to pay for pet related expenses if they were in a difficult financial situation. Three-in-five American pet owners (61%) said they’d sacrifice their cable and TV streaming services to pay for their pet expenses. Thirty-five percent would even sacrifice their cell phone plan. The AICPA notes that cutting back on these things, however, could be good for pet owners’ finances.


Individual pet owners said that to pay for emergency expenses they would be willing to “give up everything in the house,” their “quality of groceries” and even “cut back on the amount of money spent on grandchildren.” A few pet owners went all in, saying that they’re willing to “give up anything” to ensure their pet is taken care of.


“While you are committing to caring for your pet once you bring it into your home, planning ahead can help keep this commitment from sending you into financial distress,” the AICPA says.


The poll was conducted by telephone within the United States between September 29 and October 1, 2017, among 1,004 adults (502 men and 502 women aged 18 and over) including 526 identified as pet owners.