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Insurance Reports

Dog and Cat Owners and Their Willingness to Treat Their Pets

Many of us can recall having an urge to spontaneously purchase a pet at some point in our lives.

Typically, that desire quickly subsides as we consider the time, cost, and commitment that comes with owning a pet – but for others, that urge never goes away.

This phase is usually followed by searches on the internet for the best kinds of dog and cat breeds with the hope that you are just a few clicks away from finding the perfect match.

​Once owners finally get the pet of their dreams, they then have to support it. However, owners often underestimate the cost of their pets, forcing them to make some tough decisions.

Our team here at LendEDU wanted to get a clearer picture of the expenses that pets bring to their owners and how much they are willing to spend to treat their furry companions if something goes wrong. To do this, we’ve obtained some insightful data from our friends over at Trupanion, a leading pet-insurer based out of Seattle, in addition to running a survey of our own.

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Trupanion states that less than two percent of pets in the United States are currently insured. Although nowadays, pet owners can find more cost-efficient insurance plans in an effort to become responsible pet owners. With this growing increase in insured pets comes an increase in data related to pets and their health.

It’s impossible to know whether a dog or cat will catch a specific illness or suffer an injury, but with the help of Trupanion, we were able to see the 10 most common costly claims they receive, as well as the average cost associated with these conditions for both dogs and cats. We also asked pet owners if they would be willing to pay these costs to treat their companions. 

Let’s take a look at what we found.

The Average Cost of Treating the Most Common Costly Conditions for Cat Owners is Higher Than for Dog Owners

Average Cost Comparison

When deciding whether to become a dog or cat owner, most people expect dogs to carry a higher cost. After all, dogs are dirtier, more high-maintenance, and less independent when compared to their feline counterparts. 

But to our surprise, after reviewing the 10 most common costly conditions, it was cats that were more expensive per claimed condition. To be exact, cats were about 22 percent costlier.

In a previous survey we ran, we found that cat owners were willing to spend less on their pets to save them from a life threatening disease when compared to dog owners.

With our new data showing that, on average, the most common costly conditions for cats are more expensive than dog conditions, we thought it was interesting that cat owners in our previous survey displayed that they were less willing to spend more than dog owners to save their pets.

To take the information shown in the above visual a step further, we found three conditions that made it into the 10 most common costly conditions for both dogs and cats and compared them side-by-side below.

Mutual Condition Cost Comparison

The three mutual conditions were vomiting and diarrhea, any type of mass, and foreign body ingestion.

On average, cat owners received a bill roughly $267 higher than dog owners for the same condition, with cat owners spending $1,233 and dog owners spending $967.

Pet Owners’ Willingness to Treat Their Pets

In this section of our report, we polled 833 dog and cat owners to see how many were willing to treat the 10 most common costly conditions for their pet.

Percentage of Cat Owners Willing to Treat Their Pet by Condition

After reviewing the data in our poll, we found that as the average price to treat each condition rose, the percentage of cat owners that were willing to treat the given condition steadily decreased.

Weight decrease stood out amongst the rest with a near 16 percent drop off in willingness to pay from the previous condition, hyperthyroidism. Perhaps owners would rather tweak their cat’s diet instead of opting for a more costly treatment. Or maybe, weight-loss is not an issue that is taken too seriously by cat-owners.

Percentage of Dog Owners Willing to Treat Their Pet by Condition

Similar to cat owners, as the average price to treat each condition increased, the percentage of owners willing to treat that condition decreased.

The steepest drop off came from dog owners willing to treat a seizure at $1,600 to treating medial patellar luxation ​at $1,900. There was a decrease of about 10 percent of dog owners who were willing to treat medial patellar luxation.

For Three Mutual Conditions, Who is More Willing to Treat Their Pet: Dog Owners or Cat Owners?

The last piece of data we wanted to review was a comparison of the three mutually shared conditions and see how likely cat owners were to treat their pets when compared to dog owners who were dealing with the same three conditions.

Between the 10 most common costly conditions for both dogs and cats, the three conditions that landed on each list were vomiting and diarrhea, any type of mass, and foreign body ingestion.

Dog and cat owners’ reactions to treating the same condition were pretty similar in ​regards to the decrease in willingness from least expensive condition to costlier condition. But, one thing that does stand out is that, on average, dog owners were about 11 percent more likely to treat their dog than cat owners were across-the-board.

Final Thoughts

We are raised and educated from a young age with the understanding that everything has a value, whether it be emotional or financial is ultimately up to us. The question this data attempts to answer is at what point do these pet owners decide that the cost of treating their pet outweighs the value they provide, if ever. 

With the data and results presented above in mind, it would be fair to say that for many pet owners, there seems to be a point, like most things in life, where the cost simply does outweigh the value.


The 10 most common costly conditions were provided to our team by Trupanion. The conditions and average cost per condition are strictly based on the claims Trupanion receives from the pet owners it insures.

The data provided was analyzed by our team; we were able to determine the average cost of a costly condition, as well as compare three mutual conditions between dog and cat owners.

We took our analysis a step further by surveying 833 cat, dog, or owners of both to determine the percentage of owners that would be willing to treat their pet for one of these common conditions. The numbers were put into visuals shown throughout this report.​ The poll was commissioned by LendEDU and conducted online by polling company Pollfish.

A screener question was utilized to ensure we were only getting responses from dog or cat owners, or owners of both. The poll ran over a three day span, starting on December 1st, 2017 and ending on December 3rd, 2017. Respondents were asked to answer each question truthfully and to the best of their ability. 

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