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Lifetime Cost of a Pet Can Reach $55K, Study Finds

Many pet parents are not prepared for the expenses.




The lifetime cost of caring for a pet can reach $55,000, according to a new study from Synchrony.

And many pet parents are not prepared for the expenses, despite the fact that 7 out of 10 consider their pets to be members of the family.

The lifetime cost for dogs ranges from $20,000 to $55,000, according to the study, titled “Lifetime of Care.” It’s $15,000 to $45,000 for cats.

About half of all pet owners who thought they were financially ready for unexpected pet expenses actually were not, and would consider a financial solution dedicated to financing care for their pet, according to Synchrony (NYSE: SYF).

More from the release:

The study is based on findings from 1,200 pet owners and 100 veterinarians and provides consumer insights, verified by veterinary practices, into the lifetime of care cost of dog or cat ownership. The research, conducted on behalf of Synchrony’s pet and vet financial solutions, CareCredit and Pets Best Pet Insurance covered an exhaustive list of dog and cat expenses, from first-year expenses (spaying/neutering, vaccinations, pet supplies) to food and health insurance, to end-of-life expenses.

According to the American Pet Products Association, 90.5 million U.S. homes now include a pet, and in 2020 alone, $103.6 billion was spent on pet care. The Lifetime of Care research revealed dog owners can expect to spend between $1,300 – $2,800 and cat owners approximately $960 – $2,500 in the first year alone.

“Millions of Americans choose to share life with a pet, yet the true cost of ownership has historically been incredibly vague. Our Lifetime of Care study serves as a helpful tool to prepare prospective pet parents,” said Jonathan Wainberg, senior vice president and general manager, Pet, Synchrony. “We want pet parents to have a deeper understanding of what to expect financially, and knowledge of the flexible payment solutions that are available to help them manage the costs of care throughout their pet’s lifetime.”

With one in five households acquiring a new pet during the pandemic, Synchrony sought to build further awareness for the options that can help pet owners be financially prepared, from pet insurance like Pets Best, to pet care credit cards like CareCredit.

“Veterinarians often see pet parents struggling to balance the care their pet needs with what they can afford,” said Peter Weinstein, owner of PAW Consulting, author and veterinary industry leader. “This new study provides us a comprehensive look at the true costs of pet care so we can arm our clients with the information and financial solutions they need to care for their pets for a month, year and an entire lifetime.”

For more than 20 years, CareCredit has been a valuable financing option for all types of veterinary services, treatments, and diagnostics, giving pet owners peace of mind that they are ready to care for their pets throughout their lifetime. CareCredit is recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association and is a Preferred Partner for the American Veterinary Medical Association. CareCredit is currently offered in more than 24,000 veterinary practices across the U.S.

Pet parents looking for a flexible way to pay for their animal’s care can quickly see if they prequalify for the CareCredit credit card in real time (with no impact to their credit score) and apply on any smart device, in a veterinary practice, or over the phone. A credit decision is immediate and if approved, they can use their account to pay their veterinarian immediately. Pet owners can select from short-term and long-term financing options including deferred interest if paid in full within 6,12,18 or 24 months and reduced APR with fixed monthly payments for 24, 36, 48 or 60 months. Additionally, CareCredit offers a user-friendly online calculator that makes it easy for pet owners to quickly estimate monthly payments based on available financing options.

Four out of five pet owners will face an unexpected vet bill.[2] With pet insurance from Pets Best, pet parents can have peace of mind knowing they’re protected, taking the financial worry out of owning a pet, so they can focus on making the best decisions for their dog or cat. Pets Best policyholders can select from plans that can cover accidents, illnesses and routine care, all customized to fit their pet’s needs and their budget, as well as get treatment from any veterinarian of their choice with access to easy and accurate claim processing. Pets Best policyholders also have access to a suite of digital capabilities including a pet helpline, a 24/7 emergency helpline that gives policyholders access to veterinary professionals for pet health related questions and advice for free. Customers can also file claims using their smartphone, make adjustments to a policy, add pets and access claim status and details online or through their mobile app.

Together, CareCredit and Pets Best offer a complete financial solution. Card holders can pay at the veterinary office using their CareCredit card, and then apply the reimbursement from Pets Best towards their CareCredit account.


The Synchrony Lifetime of Care study included 1,200 pet owners and 100 veterinarians.

Access the complete Lifetime of Care study and financial planning resources for pet owners. To learn more about CareCredit and Pets Best, please visit or




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