The average pet parent spends about $4,800 a year on their furry friend, according to new research. A survey examined a year in the life of a pet parent and looked at various factors impacting 2,000 dog and cat owners in 2023, including finances, and found that these costs come from food, toys, clothes, treats and health needs. This year, pet parents spent about $633 on food for their pets — but even more on treats ($645). Pet parents also averaged spending close to $600 on fun items such as toys ($585) and clothes ($598) this year. Health needs were the most expensive cost pet parents faced, averaging $1,242 on vet visits. Conducted by OnePoll for MetLife Pet Insurance, the survey found that while half of pet parents said they tried to budget how much they spent on their pet this year — averaging $2,640 for the entire year — the reality of how much they spent nearly doubled this. Pet parents are recognizing the heightened spending, as 41% of respondents said they spent more money on their pets this year than anticipated, citing the financial climate of 2023 as a key issue. And it doesn’t stop there — 44% predict they’ll spend even more money on their pet in 2024. “Our survey found almost half of pet parents (45%) said their pet went through a major health event this year, but unfortunately, 82% of them weren’t financially prepared for the cost of this,” said Brian Jorgensen, CEO of Pet Insurance at MetLife. “With heightened spending across all areas of pet parenting, the last thing they need is an unexpected and expensive vet bill. Pet insurance can help with this, allowing pet parents to protect both their furry family members and their budgets.” Despite the increased costs, though, the majority of pet parents agree that, realistically, there’s no limit on what they’d spend to make sure their pet is happy and healthy (83%). This proves true since the average pet owner shared they have spent roughly $176 on a leisure splurge for their pal, like “a large swimming pool,” “a giant cat tree” and “a birthday party with neighborhood pets, cake, DJ and piñata.” Pet parents may have more to think about with the holidays around the corner, too, as 63% said they usually buy their pet a present for the holiday season — though only 54% are certain they will buy their furry friend a gift this year. Reflecting on the year, some of pet parents’ favorite memories of their fur babies include being active with them (47%), taking them outside (42%) and teaching them new tricks (38%). In addition, the majority of pet parents said they learned things that will help them take better care of their pet next year (79%), like knowing “they don’t want to be alone,” they “need a special diet” and how it’s important to “take care of your pet like a child.” “To make sure 2024 is filled with happiness with their pets, pet parents should consider how pet health insurance might be able to support their furry family member,” said Jorgensen. “We proudly support giving pets access to essential needs like exam fees and prescriptions, but also their broader well-being. Knowing that every pet and pet parent’s needs are different, it’s important to consider options that fit like 24/7 telehealth services, lost pet coverage and grief counseling for pet parents. Just as you think about how insurance should cater to your unique health needs, look for a pet insurance provider that can do the same for your pet.” Looking ahead to next year, many are setting pet-related resolutions, like spending more quality time with their furry friends (38%), being more proactive about their health (32%) and taking them to the vet more often (21%). Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed are even interested in getting a new pet in 2024 to keep their pal company (64%). Survey Methodology: This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 dog and cat owners was commissioned by MetLife Pet Insurance between Oct. 27 and Oct. 30, 2023. It was conducted by 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).