Oh, for the love of pets! Why people won’t budget on pet spending despite inflation.

When people say their pets are like their children, they’re not joking. They have the receipts to prove it.

Almost half (46%) of pet owners say they spend the same or more per month on their furry friends as on their children, according to a recent survey of 988 pet owners by Ally Consumer Research, part of financial services company Ally Financial. More than 40% spend between $100 and $299 per month on their household pets, and 22% spend at least $300, with food and healthcare topping the list of expenses, it says.

“Americans’ love of pets is legendary so the amount spent on “friends of choice” comes as no surprise,” Ally said.

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Has inflation put a dent in pet spending?

No. Even in the face of high inflation the past couple of years, people have remained steady, even willing to spend more. For example, growth in premium spending has outpaced traditional mainstream dog food since 2019, said market researcher Numerator.

To keep the pace, they’re willing to cut spending elsewhere, including themselves (53%), reports Ally.

“They’re opting to give up their own creature comforts to ensure their pets enjoy the same quality of life,” said Kate Jaffe, trend expert at online platform Rover, which connects pet owners with pet care providers.

Half (51%) said they would even take on debt to care for their pets’ healthcare needs, with 68% willing to borrow up to $1,999, 44% up to $4,999 and 22% at least $5,000 or more, Ally said.

A quarter of pet owners said they would put off their own medical needs to take care of their pet’s healthcare needs.

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Why do Americans love their pets?

Pets have always been loved because they’re seen as a source of unconditional love, but the desire for a pet may have been heightened by the pandemic.

Almost 50% of new dog owners said their decision was influenced by the pandemic owners, for example, the American Kennel Club said. The number of US households that have at least one dog (69 million homes) increased to 54% in 2020 from 50% in 2018, possibly boosted by the fact more homes now have someone there during the day (up to 39% from 32% ), it said.

Americans see their pets as the “ultimate return on investment:” 82% of 1,500 pet parents surveyed by Rover said their pet brings them the most happiness out of everything they spend money on, and 42% said they’d rather live without their morning latte –forever –than give up their pet.

Starbucks, watch out.

Medora Lee is a money, markets, and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her at [email protected] and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pet spending continues to run high despite rising inflation

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