New pet owners should be prepared to spend over £500 in upfront costs when welcoming a new furry family member, and that’s just the beginning of the financial commitment of pet parenthood.

A survey of 2,000 pet owners revealed that respondents spent an average of £415 on adoption fees and supplies in preparation for their new pet.

In addition, they spent another £413 on their pets within the first six months, resulting in 63% of respondents spending more than they had planned. Approximately 40% believed they spent more than other pet owners.

Expenses such as toys and beds (45%), grooming appointments (42%), various types of food (39%), and “puppy proofing” their home with items like gates or covered trash cans (20%) contributed to the bill during the initial months of pet ownership.

While costs such as vaccines (46%) and spaying or neutering (42%) were expected, the average respondent experienced three unplanned medical expenses or vet visits within the first year of owning their pet.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation, the survey revealed that the average respondent spent over £1,100 in the first six months of pet parenthood, exceeding what they would be willing to spend on a vacation (£620.50).

In addition to preparing and providing routine medical care, respondents set aside over £600 for emergencies, but 46% worry it may not be sufficient to cover unforeseen expenses.

Based on their experiences, one in five respondents faced an emergency situation and fell short of the required amount.

To ensure their pets receive the necessary care, many pet parents would be willing to travel any distance (42%), deplete their bank account or savings (41%), or even incur debt (38%).

Others would go to greater lengths, such as taking a second job (41%) or selling their car (35%).

“You don’t anticipate your dog swallowing a plastic chew toy or your cat developing diabetes. These are the types of conditions that can cost thousands in emergency or specialty veterinary care,” said Rob Jackson, CEO and Chief Pet Protector at Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. “Enrolling your pet in insurance when they are young will help protect your finances when unforeseen events occur.”

More than a third of respondents (37%) obtained their pet from a breeder, while others acquired their pets from a friend or family member (27%) or a shelter or rescue (24%).

Some respondents unexpectedly welcomed their pets into their homes, with one in twenty finding their four-legged friend on the side of the road or in their yard.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) brought their pets home before their second birthday and have had them for an average of four years.

However, just over a third (37%) fall under the category of “pandemic pets,” having brought their pets home within the last two years.

On average, respondents took about four months to decide to get a pet.

In addition to finances (45%), pet parents considered their lifestyle, mental (43%) and physical (44%) health, and their housing situation (48%) before bringing a new pet home.

Despite this, one in four (25%) felt unprepared to welcome their pet.

If given the opportunity to redo the preparation process, respondents would “set aside more time for training” or “save more money.”

Ultimately, most respondents wouldn’t change anything. One respondent expressed, “I wouldn’t redo anything. It was a learning experience, and it wasn’t bad. Whatever I needed to do, I did. I wouldn’t change it for the world. She is worth every penny I spent on her.”

“This survey underscores the fact that people consider their pets as family, to the extent that they would take on a second job or forego a vacation to keep them healthy,” said Jackson. “Planning ahead by ensuring routine care and purchasing pet insurance will ensure that people can enjoy their pets for their lifetime without going into debt or sacrificing other priorities.”

Survey Methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 pet owners was commissioned by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation between December 19, 2022, and January 2, 2023. It was conducted by the market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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