According to a study by Pew Research, more than 50% of Americans feel that the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed their lives. That’s about par for the course, considering the ways we work, commute, entertain ourselves, and socialize (or don’t) have indeed changed. However, many other aspects of our daily lives have also shifted due to these circumstances–including the relationship with the pets who have been with us through it all. For many, pets were one of the main reasons they were able to handle all the struggles thrown their way when the pandemic broke out, providing some much-needed comfort and companionship in an otherwise bleak time.

The Pet Industry is Going to the Moon

The biggest effect the pandemic had on pets? Well, for starters, there are more of them in loving homes! Pet adoptions saw a sharp rise during the early months of the pandemic, creating a type of pet “shortage” at many shelters. Pedigree dog sales also increased, along with puppy prices in certain cases, proving that the market rules even apply to our own pets! On a more revealing note, the driving emotion behind this recent pet mania craze seems to be a much more somber one: loneliness. A new study conducted by and Morning Consult on the pet industry revealed that more than half of all new pet owners chose to bring their furry pal home to help deal with the intense sense of isolation and anxiety most of us experienced when our cities were under lockdown.

According to the American Pet Products Association, pet supplies sales and veterinary care expenses skyrocketed to a cool $99 billion in the US in 2021. It would seem the pet and pet care industry is indeed climbing in value–though that’s not to say it’s entirely due to the pandemic, either.

How Did the Pandemic Affect Pet Ownership?

It pretty much made us smother them with even more love. The pandemic appears to have served as a reminder of the close bonds we are capable of establishing with our pets. According to the previously mentioned Money/Morning Consult pet industry study, 6 out of 10 pet owners say they’re even closer now to their pets since the start of the pandemic, with more than 50% of them saying they’re actively being more affectionate with them now than they were a year ago. It seems this loyalty holds up in the financial front too: two-thirds of pet owners said they would spend any amount to save their pets’ lives, while more than 80% say they’d be willing to spend any amount they could afford–a sentiment that most animal lovers are sure to echo.

What’s the Cost of Pet Insurance?

The pet insurance industry was already seeing steady growth well before disaster struck, so they were already primed to take advantage of the double-digit growth spike brought on by the pandemic. It adds up, at least initially: more pets means more policies sold, right? True–however, there’s an additional key component to this equation we can’t overlook: our growing emotional connections to our pets. For the last couple of years, millennials have been clamoring for pet insurance as a workplace benefit and it seems companies are finally starting to give in. Many are even starting to offer subsidized dog daycare for their employees, similar to child care. In fact, 1 out of 3 Fortune 500 companies right now offer pet insurance as a paid benefit, with more companies sure to follow suit as time goes on. According to The Society for Human Resources Management, 15% of all employers now provide some form of pet insurance as a paid employee benefit. While it might seem low, most of that growth has come in the last 10 years.

What’s Next for the Pet Care Industry?

Over the last decade, the pet care industry has more than doubled in value. Now you can get fresh and formulated organic foods delivered straight to your doorstep and a wide range of calming CBD supplements–the industry has been seeing a noticeable boom in product innovation. Most pet insurance companies have adapted to the times by going mobile, with some even providing ‘round the clock teleconsultation services. The dog daycare sector is also getting technical with mobile apps that allow pet parents to schedule appointments for their pups and watch them play all day via live webcams. Motivated in equal parts by old fashioned capitalism and our own evolving relationship with our pets, the pet industry is indisputably poised for sustained growth over the next couple of years.

If anything, our dogs are getting even more of the love and care they deserve–a silver lining to keep in mind as we look to the future in these trying times.

Money's Report On Pet Spending During Pandemic