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New Wag! Survey: The State of Pet Parenting in 2023


Written by Adam Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 01/25/2023, edited: 01/25/2023


Attitudes on pet parenting are forever changing. Historically, dogs and cats were viewed as tools to guard homes and catch pests. But in recent decades, we’ve come to see our pets as important family members who deserve respect. As a result, our furry friends are receiving better care, healthier food, and more love.

But is this approach to pet parenting due to generational differences between Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers? Or are attitudes toward our pets changing across the board?

To find out, we surveyed over 1,000 pet parents nationwide between the ages 18 and 65. We’ve crunched the numbers on everything from how much pet parents spend on dog food to whether their pets are allowed to sleep in their beds. Scroll on to see the results!

Key takeaways

  • Around half of Baby Boomers view their pets as children, while over a third of Gen Zers see their pets as best friends.
  • More Gen Zers have pet insurance than Baby Boomers.
  • Nearly a quarter more Baby Boomers schedule regular vet appointments than Gen Zers.
  • "Ruffly" 1 in 3 pet parents would never date or marry someone who doesn't like pets.
  • Over half of all pet parents said their pet has a dietary restriction.
  • Nearly 60% of all pet parents said car rides were their favorite activity to do with their pet outside the home.
  • Just under 75% of Gen Zers said they would splash out on premium grooming supplies and services.

Fur-children vs. best buds

A key takeaway from our survey is how different age groups view their pets. Baby Boomers widely think of their pets as their fur-babies (49%). Meanwhile, Gen Zers think of their pets as their best friends (34%).

Baby Boomers have a more traditional view on training, with a focus on obedience. On the other paw, about a third (36%) of Gen Zers said their approach to training was "flexible" and reward-based. Younger pet parents were also more likely to take their pets to public places like restaurants.

Overall, Baby Boomers are a bit more frugal when it comes to their pets — but that doesn't necessarily mean they don’t spoil their fur-babies in other ways. A whopping 71% of Baby Boomers said they let their pets sleep in their bed. This stat is in keeping with older generations seeing their pets as children who can curl up with them at night.

You don't like pets? That's a dealbreaker

The survey also highlights how many pet parents consider their pets to be an essential part of their lives. For a high percentage of respondents, a romantic partner who doesn't like pets isn't going to be around for long.

A third (33%) of pet parents said they wouldn't date someone that doesn't like pets, while a slightly higher number (35%) said they wouldn't marry someone who doesn't like pets. So you might want to reconsider your stance if you're looking for love but dislike pets.

At the same time, an increasing number of pet parents are willing to pucker up to their pets. Nearly a third (30%) of all pet parents let their pet kiss them on the mouth!

infographic detailing the results of a recent survey on pet parenting trends in 2023 by wag!

Food and nutrition "impawtant" to all age groups

Pet nutrition crossed the generational gap in our survey, with all age groups agreeing that they splurge on high-quality food. Most Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers said they spend an average of $50 to $100 on pet food each month.

As well as recognizing the importance of a high-quality diet, many pet parents are spending more on pet food due to special dietary needs. Surprisingly, over half (53%) of all pet parents said their pets have dietary restrictions, like an allergy.

That said, other pet parents are more relaxed about what their pets eat. Cats and dogs who beg at dinnertime usually get their way, with nearly a third (31%) of pet parents saying they feed their pets human food "often" or "all the time." Some pet parents are completely unable to resist their fur-baby's charm, with 20% of respondents going a step further and letting their pets eat right off their plate.

2023 is the year of pampered pets

Younger generations are more likely to pamper their pets than Boomers and Gen Xers. Gen Zers typically spend more on their pets per month, despite making less money on average.

Younger pet parents are generally less budget-conscious and are willing to break the bank on everything from pet insurance to grooming services. Almost three-quarters (73%) of Gen Zers said they'd splurge on premium pet grooming services and supplies to keep their fur-babies looking fabulous.

One thing all age groups could agree on? Dressing up your pup is adorable! 55% of all surveyed pet parents said they dress up their pets in clothing and accessories. Gen Zers throw caution to the wind, stating they would pay premium prices for pet fashion, “pawticularly” for special occasions.

Download the Wag! app to pamper your pet in 2023 with on-demand pet care services, Wag! Vet Chat, and more!

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