Pandemic pets get gifts and cakes, but still misbehave – Forbes Advisor


  • 78% of pet owners acquired pets during the pandemic.
  • Young people (ages 18-25) are much more likely to own a variety of pets in addition to cats and dogs.
  • The majority of pet owners have increased their spending on their pets to compensate for being further from home.

Pandemic pets fill homes

The pandemic and the drive to spend on pets has changed the landscape of pet ownership.

A new Forbes Advisor survey found that an overwhelming majority of pet owners (78%) have acquired pets during the pandemic.

Find the best pet insurance companies of 2022

When was the last time you introduced a new pet into your home?

Gen X sticks to dogs and cats, young pet owners love variety

Pet owners between the ages of 42 and 57 (Gen X) are the least likely to own pets other than cats and dogs, such as hamsters, birds, and fish. People between the ages of 18 and 25 are far more likely than other age groups to have a variety of pets.

Which of the following animals do you own?

Spending on pets is on the rise

As the nation continues to adjust to a new pandemic normal and spends more time away from home, humans aren’t the only ones facing waves of change. Unless you’re fostering an aloof cat, your pet has probably loved every second of having you home more because of the pandemic.

Overall, two-thirds (66%) of pet owners say they have spent more money on their pets in the past six months than they usually would to help animals to get used to being more alone.

Pet owners in the North East have been particularly guilty of extra expense. People in the Northeast are also the most likely to spend more time away from their pets.

Over the past six months I have spent more money on my pet than usual to help him get used to being alone more often as I spend more time away from home

Spending on pets by generation

Pets, just like humans, can be expensive to maintain. With food, training, grooming, and veterinary care, the out-of-pocket expenses of caring for a squishy-faced baby animal can add up quickly. And that’s not even counting the fun stuff like pet birthday gifts and cute clothes.

Young pet owners (ages 18-25) are the most likely to spend a lot on their pets, including birthday cakes and pet clothes. They are also the most likely to spend money on pet behavior training, expensive pet food, dog daycare, and dog walking services.

But, notably, those who have experienced the most birthdays (people aged 77 and over) are the most likely to buy a birthday present for a pet.

Which of the following items/services do you purchase for your pet?

Despite gifts and cakes, pet behavior is poor

Pet gifts and expensive food do not reduce bad pet behavior. Pet owners across the country are facing unwanted behaviors as they spend more time away from home.

Pet owners report increased problems with chewing, digging, and associated destruction, as well as barking and howling.

Which of the following have you observed in your pet as you spend more time away from home?

Given that the majority of pet owners report that their pets act in their absence, it’s not entirely surprising that half (50%) of survey respondents said that being able to bring their pet to the working at a new job would positively influence their decision to accept a job offer.

Pet insurance is a popular purchase

New pets come with costs that can come as a shock to a pet owner. Unexpected veterinary bills, in particular, can force a pet owner to make difficult financial decisions, such as whether to rack up credit card debt or deplete savings to cover large veterinary bills.

Pet insurance can lessen the blow of those vet bills. Our investigation revealed that:

  • 21% of pet owners plan to purchase pet insurance this year.
  • 50% already have pet insurance.

Baby boomers (aged 58-76) are the least likely to say they have pet insurance, even though it is embraced by other age groups. Baby boomers are also the most likely to say they have no intention of buying pet insurance.

Do you have pet insurance for any of your pets?

A third of those with pet insurance (33%) say they spend $151 to $300 a year on insurance. About another third (36%) say they spend between $301 and $450 a year.

Related: Best Pet Insurance Plans

Survey methodology

This online survey of 2,000 US adults was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research firm OnePoll in accordance with the Market Research Society’s Code of Conduct. Data was collected February 15-17, 2022. Margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, a member of the MRS and a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). For full survey methodology, including geographic and demographic sample sizes, contact [email protected]

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