Study: Pet owners significantly underestimate veterinary costs

  • Most German pet owners expect the same medical treatment that they would like for themselves.
  • At the same time, they significantly underestimate the actual costs of medical treatment for their pets.
  • Almost a third of respondents expect their veterinarian to find a solution if the bill is too high.

Hanover. A current study among German pet owners by the pet insurance expert Figo Pet* in collaboration with the market research institute dvj insights shows that a large proportion of those surveyed underestimate the actual costs of medical care for their beloved dogs and cats. And although their estimates are already quite low, they believe that they are already too high. At the same time, almost a third of current dog and cat owners expect their veterinarian to offer them a solution if they cannot afford the costs of necessary medical treatment. Alternatively, about a third of respondents would ask friends and relatives for financial help.

Same treatment for pets
When asked what kind of medical care study participants expect, 72 percent of dog owners and 68 percent of cat owners answered that they expect the same medical care for their pet as they do for themselves. In terms of financial expenditure, 78 percent of dog owners and 73 percent of cat owners always want to get the best treatment for their furry friend, regardless of the cost.

While dog owners are willing to pay more for their pet's medical treatment than cat owners (average max. 1,363 euros compared to 762 euros per year), The actual costs for various treatments are significantly underestimated by all respondents. For example: The average estimate of the cost of removing a foreign body from a dog's stomach is 288 euros. The actual costs start at around 2,500 euros (calculated for a 25 kilogram Labrador). The results for cat owners are similar, here is also an example: Cat owners estimate the treatment of a broken leg to be an average of 325 euros, but the actual costs are closer to around 2,600 euros (if surgery is required). But even if the estimates are well below the real costs, 62 percent of dog and cat owners are of the opinion that the veterinary costs are already too high.

The survey also found that 22 percent of dog and 25 percent of cat owners would reconsider getting a pet if they had known in advance what the actual medical costs would be. This result shows that many people do not fully understand the financial responsibility that comes with owning pets – especially in the area of ​​medical care. This can lead to necessary treatments having to be postponed due to high costs: 14 percent of dog owners stated that treatment had to be postponed in the past, of which 41 percent cited financial bottlenecks and 31 percent cited a lack of pet insurance as the main reason. The situation is similar for cat owners: 17 percent of those surveyed stated that treatment had to be postponed in the past, 52 percent of them cited financial bottlenecks and 27 percent cited a lack of insurance as the reason.

One (financial) Challenge for animal owners and veterinarians alike
These results highlight not only the financial challenges faced by pet owners, but also the additional burdens placed on veterinarians, presenting them with ever-increasing challenges. In addition to high-quality care, many veterinarians also have to deal with the issue of financial help, because: 28 percent of German dog owners expect a solution from their veterinarian if they cannot afford medical treatment; this figure is 29 percent of cat owners. In the long term, this can lead to a deterioration in the animal's health and well-being, as well as a higher risk of serious health problems. Additionally, this dilemma could lead to a decline in veterinary visits in the long term, especially if owners become increasingly reluctant for financial reasons. As a result, veterinary practices may see a decline in revenue and be forced to rethink their services or pricing models. So what is the alternative?

Both parties are looking for a better solution
Despite these challenges, there are various interesting solutions. The study results show that 64 percent of dog and 54 percent of cat owners would rather pay a monthly fee than deal with unexpectedly high medical costs. This suggests that offering flexible payment options such as payment plans or pet insurance can help reduce pet owners' financial worries. In order to successfully overcome these challenges, collaboration between animal owners, veterinarians and insurers is necessary.

Maximiliane Helbig, veterinarian at Figo Pet Germany, says: “We are seeing more and more often that pet owners greatly underestimate veterinary costs and unfortunately this often leads to a rude awakening. It is crucial to ensure that pets receive the medical care they need and to reduce the financial burden on owners. If this issue is neglected, it can have a negative long-term impact on the well-being of the animals and on veterinary practices.”

Nina Schneider, Commercial Manager at Figo Pet Germany, adds: “The study shows how important it is to have greater awareness of the actual (medical) We also see that the amounts that pet owners put aside each month are often far less than the actual medical costs. A monthly premium for pet health insurance is therefore a practical way to deal with unexpected costs. Pet owners can thus enjoy the time they spend with their pet even more and give it a happy and healthy life without having to worry about finances.”

About Figo
Figo Pet is an innovative European company specializing in pet insurance for dogs, cats, parrots and rabbits. A passionate team consisting of animal lovers and experts has set itself the goal of making the topic of animal health insurance uncomplicated, flexible and transparent for all animal owners in Germany. Figo's animal health insurance products offer the best and most comprehensive care, throughout the life of the animal. Health insurance for your own pet can be taken out at Figo for any animal age and breed. In 2024, Figo was named the fairest pet insurer in terms of tariff performance and customer service.

* The online study was conducted March 20-30, 2024 with a total of 1,037 participants (934 pet owners/103 future pet owners) carried out.