Food banks for Fido? Pet owners feeling inflation's squeeze, too – Orange County Register - petsitterbank

Food banks for Fido? Pet owners feeling inflation’s squeeze, too – Orange County Register

Inflation has hit Americans from virtually every side, and a new report shows pet owners are feeling the squeeze.

Veterinarians.org’s survey of 1,000 pet owners found that, over the past 12 months, nearly a quarter of respondents considered giving their pets away or surrendering them to a shelter in the face of rising costs for pet food, supplies, grooming and veterinary services.

Fifty-five percent said they canceled their pet food subscriptions on Chewy.com, Amazon.com and other websites that offer meal services for pets, and 50% said they were shopping for cheaper alternatives to pet food.

Linda Largo, who owns a labrador retriever and two cats, admits she’s paying more than she’d like for pet food these days.

“It’s probably 40 percent higher,” the Valencia resident said. “But there really isn’t anything you can do. I’m already shopping at Sam’s Club and Costco for pet food.”

Dr. Matt Wheaton and veterinarian assistant Kasi Winters wrap up surgery on a cat during Ford Petersen Spay Day at Alicia Pet Care Center in Mission Viejo. (File photo by Josh Barber, contributing photographer)

A report from PetFoodIndustry.com shows US pet food inflation hits a record high in August, rising 13.1% year over year. But that doesn’t capture steeper price hikes among boutique brands.

Additional data from TruthAboutPetFood.com show a 12-pound bag of Merrick Adult Grain-Free chicken food for cats jumped to $41.98 in 2022 from $20.59 in 2020, 103.8% increase.

The cost of a 30-pound bag of Royal Canin Labrador Retriever dog food jumped 52.4% during that same two-year period to $104.99, while other boutique brands posted price hikes of 23.5% to 49%.

The Veterinarians.org survey also shows that 35% of pet owners have reduced pet-grooming visits, 46% have had to delay or forego veterinary procedures or treatments for their pet and 22% have applied to special services that help defray pet-related costs .

Pet Assistance Foundation, a Long Beach nonprofit that offers low-cost spay and neuter referrals to pet owners, is seeing the cost pinch, too.

“I had a lady call me on Monday to ask if we had any pet food to donate,” said Delilah Rosales, the foundation’s office manager.

The nonprofit participations in wellness events held monthly in lower-income communities where bags of food and free vaccines are given out, she said, adding that the demand for free pet food and services has grown.

Veterinary costs have risen as well. Prices for vet services have jumped 10% in the past year, government data show — the biggest spike in two decades.

Veterinary care, like many services, is labor-intensive. Worker pay makes up about half the cost of running a practice, and with wages rising nationally at the fastest pace in decades, many clinic owners have had to pay more to find or keep employees.

Euclid Veterinary Hospital has faced higher costs for medications and is also paying more to have supplies shipped to the clinic, office manager Lisa Zabala said.

“Our prices for customers haven’t gone up too much — maybe a few dollars here and there,” she said. “But they will definitely start going up the first of the year.”

Other pet owners have expressed frustration with the rising costs to groom their pets.

“Can anyone explain why the price for a bath and haircut for my 18-pound mini Aussiedoodle went from a base price of $56 when I booked last week to a base price of $94 now when trying to book in the app?” one dog owner complained on Reddit. “I know prices for everything have gone up, but that’s ridiculous!”

Pasadena Humane, a community-supported animal shelter and resource center, offers pet adoption and fostering through its Helping Paws program. It also operates a pet food bank for owners struggling to care for their animals.

“Our goal is to keep pets from ending up in shelters,” said Kevin McManus, a spokesman for the facility. “We have a really good adoption rate.”

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