New pet owners should be prepared to spend upwards of $500 in startup costs when bringing home a new four-legged family member, and that’s just the beginning of the cost of pet parenting. A new survey of 2,000 pet owners revealed that respondents spent an average of $553 in adoption and food expenses to groom their new pet. On top of that, they spent another $550 on their pets in the first six months, resulting in 63% of those surveyed spending more than they planned. 40% believe they spent more than other pet owners. Items like toys and beds (45%), grooming appointments (42%), different types of food (39%), and “puppy-proofing” your home with items like doors or covered trash cans (20%) accumulated bill for those first few months of having a pet. And while costs such as vaccinations (46%) and spay/neuter (42%) can be expected, the average respondent had three unplanned medical expenses or vet visits within the first year of owning their pet. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation, the survey showed that the average respondent spent more than $1,100 in the first six months of being a pet parent, more than they would be willing to spend on a vacation ($620.50). . In addition to routine medical care and preparedness, respondents have more than $600 set aside in case of an emergency, but 46% worry that it won’t be enough to cover it. Based on experience, one in five has faced an emergency and did not reach the necessary amount. To give their pet the care it needed, many pet owners would travel any distance (42%), deplete their bank account or savings (41%), and go into debt (38%). Others would go even further and get a second job (41%) or even sell their car (35%). “You don’t plan on your dog swallowing a plastic chew toy or your cat developing diabetes. These are the types of conditions that can cost thousands of dollars in emergency or specialty veterinary care,” said Rob Jackson, CEO and head of pet protection at Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. “Enrolling your pet in insurance when they are young will help protect your wallet when these unforeseen events occur.” More than a third (37%) of those surveyed got their pet from a breeder, but others came from a friend or family member (27%) or from a shelter or rescue (24%). Others unexpectedly welcomed their pet into their home: one in twenty found their four-legged friend on the side of the road or in her garden. Nearly three-quarters (73%) brought their pet home before its second birthday and have had it for an average of four years. However, just over a third (37%) fall under the “pandemic pet” umbrella: bringing their pet home in the past two years. It took the average respondent about four months to decide whether to get a pet. In addition to finances (45%), pet owners considered their lifestyle, mental (43%) and physical (44%) health, and living situation (48%) before bringing home a new pet. Still, a quarter (25%) did not feel ready to bring their pet home. Given the opportunity to redo the preparation for bringing their pet home, respondents would “set aside more time for training” or “save more money.” But at the end of the day, most respondents wouldn’t change a thing. One respondent said: “I wouldn’t redo anything. It was a learning experience, and it wasn’t bad. What I had to do, I did. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. She is worth every penny I spent on her.” “This survey makes it clear that people consider their pets like family, to the point that they would look for a second job or forgo a vacation to stay healthy,” Jackson said. “Planning ahead by maintaining routine care and purchasing pet insurance will ensure that people can enjoy their pets throughout their lives without going into debt or sacrificing other priorities.” Survey Methodology: This randomized, dual-participation survey of 2,000 pet owners was commissioned by the Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation between December 19, 2022 and January 2, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll , whose team are members of the Society for Market Research and has corporate membership in the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Market Research (ESOMAR).