25/04/2024

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81% of Pet Owners Buy Christmas Gifts for Dogs, Cats and Other Pets

9 min read
81% of Pet Owners Buy Christmas Gifts for Dogs, Cats and Other Pets

Key points

  • 81% of our survey respondents plan to buy holiday or Christmas gifts for dogs, cats and other pets. 
  • Most pet owners we surveyed are purchasing food, treats and Christmas dog toys to surprise their pets this holiday season. 
  • 15% of respondents plan to spend $51 to $75 on holiday and Christmas gifts for their dogs, cats and other pets. 

We surveyed 1,000 U.S. pet owners and found that 81% of respondents have bought or intend to buy gifts for their dogs and other pets this holiday season, with $51 to $75 being the most popular amount to spend among pet parents.

The majority of respondents (60%) say food and treats made their pet gift list this year, but toys (58%) are also popular gift items. 

Those aren’t the only gifts pets are getting this holiday season — 49% of respondents are buying clothes as Christmas gifts for cats, dogs and other pets while 28% of respondents plan to treat both themselves and their four-legged friends with a special pet portrait. 

Holiday pet spending

Fifteen percent of respondents say they will spend $51 to $75 on gifts for cats, dogs and other pets this holiday season. However, some respondents say they will spend a lot more. We found that 11% of people will spend $126 to $150, 7% will spend $201 to $500 and a combined total of 6% will spend more than $1,000.

Nearly half of the people surveyed said they plan to spend more on their pet this year than they did in previous years, but 16% said they plan to spend less this year than in past years. 

Cat owners vs. dog owners: Who spends more on holiday or Christmas gifts for their dogs or cats?

Felines and canines can gain some holiday respite from the age-old cat vs. dog battle this season, at least when it comes to how much their owners shell out on average in the name of holiday festivities. 

The most popular spending amount for cats (45%) and dogs (43%) this year is $100 or less, according to pet owners we polled. The second most popular spending amount for both pets is $101 to $200, with 34% of cat owners and 36% of dog owners budgeting in that range. 

Seven percent of cats and dogs can expect gifts totaling $1,001 or more. 

Although the results are pretty equal, dog owners are slightly more likely to buy their dogs gifts than cat owners this year. According to our survey, 82% of dog owners said they will be buying gifts for their dog this year, compared to 81% of cat owner respondents. 

Which generation spends the most on holiday gifts for pets?

Gen X is the most likely to buy holiday gifts for their dogs, cats and other pets the most this year — 86% of our survey respondents aged 43 to 58 said they plan to or have already bought gifts for their pets. 

The next generation spending on pet gifts is aged 18 to 26 — with 84% of Gen Z respondents planning to spoil their pets this holiday season. 

Survey respondents of both generations (47% and 44% respectively) plan to shell out more cash for pet gifts this year than in previous years. 

States that spend the most on Christmas gifts for dogs, cats and other pets

We surveyed pet owners in the 10 most populous states and found that the majority of pet owners spend $200 or less on holiday gifts for their dogs, cats and other pets. 

Californians spend the most on average — 14% of respondents in The Golden State said they have spent or plan to spend over a whopping $1,000 on gifts for their pets this holiday season. 

Those in Michigan and North Carolina said they spend the least, with 54% of respondents in each state spending $100 or less on holiday gifts for dogs, cats and other pets. 

Most popular Christmas gifts for dogs, cats and other pets

What kind of gifts are pets unwrapping this year? We asked pet parents to select the types of items they’ll be gifting this year, and 60% said food made the list. Belly-worthy gifts aren’t the only popular items. Toys (58%) are the next most popular items, followed by clothes (49%) and comfort gifts (46%), like beds and blankets. 

Food and toys are the most popular gifts for pets this holiday season, but many pet owners are also springing for some pet experiences. Nearly 60% of respondents said they are buying their pet either food or clothing, while 30% said they are paying for grooming services.

If you’re still shopping for a unique gift for your pet, consider taking a tip from the 28% of our respondents who are investing in portraits or photographs of their pets for the holidays or the 23% who are sending their pet companions for a little pampering at the spa. 

Pets and holiday travel

Sixty percent of pet owners say their pets will be accompanying them as they travel this holiday season. One-third (33%) will be hitting the roads with their pets as they drive to their destination, and 27% of respondents say their pet will be accompanying them on a holiday plane ride. 

Of the pets that aren’t traveling with their owners for the holiday, most will be staying behind with friends or family (30%) or enjoying the holidays at home while someone comes over to care for them (29%).

Traveling with your pet can be difficult. We asked 1,000 pet owners who flew with their pets this year what the most difficult part about it was — 19% said finding a bathroom for their pet.

How to protect your pet while traveling

If you’re thinking about bringing your pet along this holiday, here are a few easy things you can do to protect them: 

  • Make an appointment with your vet before travel to ensure your pet is healthy and up to date on vaccinations. 
  • Verify that your pet has the proper identification on its collar or, if your pet is microchipped, that the associated information is correct. 
  • Make a checklist of pet travel essentials, including food, water, feeding bowls, a pet first-aid kit and a leash.
  • If traveling by plane, make sure your pet has an approved crate that is labeled with pertinent information, such as your contact information and its picture. It’s also wise to contact the airline to determine airline-specific rules for pets traveling.
  • If traveling by car, it’s a good idea to bring a comfortable, breathable crate or secure them in the backseat with a pet-appropriate harness. 
  • Consider purchasing a pet insurance policy that you can use in case of an emergency while you’re away.  

Pet insurance and holiday travel

Pet insurance can cover accident and illness expenses while traveling, but check your pet insurance policy and make sure you understand your coverage before you leave home. You may be able to use any veterinarian in the United States and Canada, depending on the insurer. For example: 

  • Embrace pet insurance does not require in-network veterinarians and covers exam fees at no additional cost with its emergency vet insurance coverage. Embrace gets 5 stars in our rating of the best pet insurance
  • ManyPets, another top-rated pet insurance company, offers accident and illness pet insurance coverage for 90 days while you’re traveling in the United States and Canada. ManyPets may cover expenses from accidents and illnesses your pet suffers, even if it is not a direct result of traveling.

For additional coverage while traveling, consider buying travel insurance and adding a pet bundle. For example: 

  • Aegis Go Ready Choice is a cheap travel insurance plan that offers a pet bundle with pet medical, pet kennel and pet return benefits. This plan gets 4.5 stars in our rating of the best travel insurance.
  • AIG Travel Guard Preferred also offers an optional pet bundle. With this add-on you get a daily benefit for boarding and medical expense coverage for the illness or injury of your dog or cat while traveling, among other benefits. This plan gets 4 stars in our rating of the best travel insurance.   

Tip: If you’re traveling overseas with your pet, depending on the country and airline, you may need to provide a pet health certificate from a veterinarian. If your pet insurance policy includes a wellness plan, you may be able to get reimbursed for this vet visit, depending on the company. Before traveling abroad with your pet, make sure you check the country’s requirements — many countries require quarantine restrictions.  

Tips to keep your pet safe this holiday season

The holidays are a time of joy, but certain activities can put your pet at risk. Here are some tips to keep your pet safe this holiday season.

Festive holiday plants to avoid

Several holiday plants can be toxic if your pet ingests them. If you’re a fan of these festive florals and plants, consider going with an artificial option if you own a pet. 

Here are some common holiday plants that can be toxic to your dogs, cats and other pets. 

  • Azaleas. A common flower found in holiday bouquets, if your dog ingests azaleas it can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, coma and even death. 
  • Holly. The berries from a holly plant can be highly toxic to dogs. If the berries fall on the ground and your pet gets to them, it could lead to vomiting and diarrhea. 
  • Lilies. These flowers are highly poisonous to dogs and cats and can lead to fatal kidney injury.
  • Mistletoe. Mistletoe plants can be toxic for dogs if ingested, causing vomiting and diarrhea, seizures and even death in severe cases. 
  • Poinsettias. These festive flowers can have harmful effects on your dog or cat if ingested. 

Make your home pet-friendly for the holidays

Like holiday plants and flowers, it’s a good idea to keep your pet away from some other holiday decor to make sure nothing toxic gets ingested or to avoid injury. 

  • Candles. No matter the season, you should never leave a lit candle unattended in your home. Your pet could burn itself or knock the candle over.
  • Christmas tree stand. If you have a natural Christmas tree, make sure it’s securely fixed into the stand so it doesn’t fall on your pet. Also, cover the stand so your dog or cat can’t access the water in the stand. This water typically has fertilizer in it, and stagnant water breeds bacteria. If your pet drinks this water, it could get sick. 
  • Tinsel and ribbons. Cats and kittens love playing with string, but make sure you keep your eye on your cat if you have tinsel and ribbon around. A kittens could easily swallow this stringy decor, which could lead to obstruction of its digestive tract. 
  • Wires. Keep wires away from your pet — it could potentially chew through them and get a shock. 

In addition to managing holiday decor, there are ways you can prepare your home to ensure your pet feels safe and comfortable. 

  • Give your pet its own room. Depending on your pet and its personality, it may be a good idea to give your pet its own room to retreat to if you’re hosting guests over the holidays. This can help your pet relax in its own safe space. 
  • Avoid loud noises. If your pet is scared of loud noises, like New Year’s Eve fireworks, make sure you have a room for them in your house, away from windows and as quiet as possible. It may be a good idea for you to sit in there with your pet while the fireworks are going off so it’s not alone.

Holiday food and treats to avoid giving your pet

  • Human food. Holiday leftovers are a great part of tradition, but don’t give your pet too many scraps. Fatty and spicy human food can make your pet sick.
  • Sweets. Many human sweets can be toxic to pets, including chocolate and fruit, like grapes. If you’re giving your pet treats this holiday season, make sure they’re safe. 
  • Easily-chewed toys. If your pet can chew through a toy easily, it could potentially try to ingest the pieces. If you’re giving your pet some toys this holiday season, make sure you go with hard-to-chew-through toys. 

This online survey of 1,000 cat and dog owners from the 10 most populous U.S. states was commissioned by USA TODAY Blueprint and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected from Nov. 27 to Nov. 29, 2023. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of the MRS and has corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). State rankings are based on the average amount respondents said they planned to spend on their pet in each state.

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