Whatever it takes: 47% of US pet owners say they are willing to go into debt to pay for their pet’s medical care

November 17, 2020
  • US pet care products/services market set to surpass $100 billion in 2020.
  • 29% of consumers say they are likely to get a new pet within the next year.
  • 83% of pet owners say their pet helps them stay calm during stressful times.
  • 63% of pet owners say they are spending more time with their pets as a result of the pandemic.

It seems that money really is no object when it comes to the wellbeing of furry companions as, according to new research from Mintel – the experts in what consumers want and why – 60% of pet owners say there is no limit to what they will spend to take care of their pet’s health. So much so that half (47%) admit they are willing to go into debt to pay for their pet’s medical care.

It may have been a tough year for humans, but 2020 has been a great one for pets. US consumers are forecast to splash out an incredible $102.2 billion on their beloved companions this year. Over the past five years, the market for pet care products and services* has shown steady growth, up 30% since 2015, driven predominantly by spending on pet food and supplies. This year, total sales are expected to increase 5% from 2019. The pet food and pet supplies segments saw the greatest growth from 2019 (at 7% and 6% respectively) after benefiting from a spike in sales as owners stocked up for the quarantine lockdown period in March and April.

According to Mintel, pets are set to play an even bigger role in Americans’ lives as two thirds (65%) of adults say they are likely to get a new pet in the future, and 45% anticipate this will happen within the next year.

Kristen Boesel, Senior Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst, said:

“Pet owners love their pets and are committed to treating them well. While the economy recovers, consumers will look for value in this category, but not at the expense of quality. A desire to maintain their pets’ health and pamper them with high-quality products will keep the pet market slowly growing through the recession. In the short term, pet services may need to innovate with mobile, online, or in-home options to boost business, but the segment is expected to bounce back as personal disposable income recovers.”

Pets are helping their owners endure the pandemic

The value pets bring to overall well being is apparent as over four in five (83%) pet owners say their pet helps them stay calm during stressful times. Spoiling pets makes animal lovers feel good too, as 80% of owners say they enjoy spoiling their pet. What is more, three in five (61%) believe a good pet parent buys only the best (eg food, toys) for their pet.

“Pet owners increasingly gravitate towards purchases that they might enjoy themselves. For example, decadent treats like pet-friendly ice cream appeal to human palates. There are opportunities for pampering in the pet services space too. Groomers are responding by offering luxury services like pet messages and blueberry facials,” comments Boesel.

The return to the office will be tough

The majority (63%) of pet owners say they are spending more time with their pets as a result of the pandemic and two in five (38%) say this has resulted in a stronger bond between them. But while pets have helped consumers endure the pandemic, for many, the return to the office is inevitable. As consumers start to leave the home more and return to their pre-pandemic routines, they will worry about leaving their pets: 90% of owners say it is their responsibility to make sure their pet is happy, while almost three quarters (72%) say they feel guilty when they don’t have enough time to spend with their pet.

“To say 2020 has been a stressful year is an understatement. Fortunately, pet owners have their pets to help them through. However, as reemergence continues and owners start to spend more time away from home, both pets and people may suffer some separation anxiety. This presents opportunities for in-home trainers and behaviorists who can help teach pets coping strategies. There may also be an increase in owners taking their pets with them when they leave the house. Stores and restaurants that can position themselves as pet friendly may become preferred destinations for pet owners who want to share their away-from-home experiences with their pets,” concludes Boesel.


*The pet care products and services market includes pet food, pet supplies, veterinary services, pet services (grooming, boarding, training, etc). Does not include the sale of live pets.

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For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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