How Pet Parents Can Financially Prepare For a Return to Office

Side view of barefoot lady giving snack to obedient dog after successful high five on floor at home.
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A return to the office will not only affect our and our families’ routines, but it will also affect the routines of the pets in our lives — and these changes can be costly. A recent survey conducted by MetLife Pet Insurance found that about 3 in 4 working pet parents are concerned about pet care costs during this transition. Fortunately, doing some planning ahead can help to ease some of these financial fears.

Here are some ways pet parents can financially prepare for a return to the office.

Make a Plan for Keeping Your Pet Safe and Secure While You Are Away

Your return to the office will mean you can’t be home with your pet all the time, so start thinking now about how your pet’s routine will change and how you will cover any new costs that come along with this change.

“What we’re hearing from pet parents is that they’re concerned about the expenses that correlate to keeping their pet safe at home when they’re away,” said Katie Blakeley, vice president and head of pet insurance at MetLife. “It can be as simple and straightforward as a gating/crating system to ensure that your pet is in a safe environment while you’re away from home, but the expenses build from there — especially for pets that need human interaction, that were adopted during the pandemic and don’t know a ‘normal’ outside of this pandemic normal where their pet parents are home with them all day. They may need a pet sitter, a dog walker or some sort of day care that can provide that human engagement. There could be a number of expenses in that regard.”

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Prepare For Possible Additional Veterinary Needs

“Another thing that pet parents are considering in terms of where these costs might come from is injuries or illness — like separation anxiety — that may manifest with this change in routine or environment, and making sure that their pets are well prepared for that change,” Blakeley said.

To prepare for this transition from a health standpoint, Blakeley encourages pet parents to talk to their veterinarian.

“Make a plan when it comes to the health of your pet, even when there’s nothing wrong or nothing that’s particularly concerning,” she said. “Make sure that your veterinarian knows that there’s going to be a change in your pet’s environment and that you want some help in thinking about how you can better prepare your pet. Veterinarians are always going to have great ideas, not only from a health perspective but from a behavioral perspective too, on how we can get our pets more comfortable for a new routine.”

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Invest In Purchases Now That Will Ease the Eventual Transition

The MetLife survey found that 55% of pet parents are making purchases up to $1,000 to prepare for the transition back to the office, with 14% saying they will spend “as much money as it takes” to keep their pet healthy during the transition. As for what’s actually worth investing in, Blakeley said to focus on purchases that will help keep your pet safe and healthy.

“If you have a dog door or pet door where your pets can get outside during the day, make sure that you’re investing in quality fencing or a quality pet door, maybe even one that can be managed remotely,” she said.

“There are a lot of tools available now to monitor our pets when we’re away from home,” Blakeley continued. “If you aren’t one to crate or gate your animal while you are away, a lot of pet parents do like to have the ability to check on their pets remotely via a doggy cam or pet cam. Some are available where you can talk directly to your pets — there are remote treat dispensers and automated feeders. There are a number of tools focused on safety — which is of paramount importance — and based on engagement and monitoring, and making sure that you’re able to keep a close eye on your pet and check in on them throughout the day.”

Consider Purchasing Pet Insurance

The No. 1 purchase working pet parents are making is pet insurance — 37% said they will purchase insurance for their furry family members.

“Pet insurance is such a smart idea, especially when change is coming,” Blakeley said. “Change affects our pets in different ways. The way pet insurance works is that you get it before you need it. Then when something does happen — [if your pet has] separation anxiety or eats something he shouldn’t while you’re away — all of those things could be covered by pet insurance. It covers everything from small expenses, like ear infections and upset stomachs, to much more significant expenses, like surgery, hospitalization and chronic treatments like chemotherapy or dialysis. It’s a really smart tool to help manage those expenses, so when unforeseen costs do arise, you can focus on doing what’s best for your pet’s health and not worry about the finances.”

Talk To Your Employer If You Will Need a Flexible or Hybrid Schedule

According to the survey, 23% of pet parents are planning to take a pay cut to work remotely and care for their pets. If your pet needs extra care, see if you can arrange with your employer to work remotely some days or leave early to spend extra time with your pet. If this entails taking a pay cut, do the math to see if this is worth it — dog walking and day care expenses can really add up. Plus, you may save on other expenses by working from home.

“Expenses associated with our professional lives may be commuting or parking, it may be expenses in terms of time,” Blakeley said. “A lot of individuals that have pets are thinking those things through, prioritizing and looking at the dollars and cents.”

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Last updated: Oct. 22, 2021 

About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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