Pets and Millennials Go Together. So, Millennial Workers Will Go Where Pet Benefits Are Offered

millennial workers

Millennial workers number more than 56 million and comprise the largest generational segment in the workforce.1 They’re also the generation with the most pets. In fact, 70% of Millennials have at least one companion animal.2 You can boost your recruiting and retention of this key demographic by understanding how much their pets mean to them and by responding with benefits they want and need

Across all generations, Americans spent $70 billion on their pets in 2018—over $10 billion more than they spent on childcare.3 Millennial workers appear to be driving that pets-first trend. Due to a variety of causes, including high levels of student debt, many members of that generation are delaying parenthood and substituting pets for children. We can see that effect in Millennial-friendly cities such as San Francisco, where dogs outnumber children, and Seattle, where there are more households with cats than kids.4 Many Millennials consider their pets their “starter family”—literally. Forty-two percent say they consider their pets to be their kids.

That parent-like bond with their pets has real economic ramifications. Millennials are more likely to pamper pets with high end toys and supplies and higher quality pet food.6 According to a report by TD Ameritrade, Millennial dog owners also “expect to spend more on their dog through its lifetime than on personal medical costs during their own adult lifetime.”7 As a generation, they’re much more likely to go to extreme financial lengths for their pets. Across all generations, 20% of employees say they have gone into debt to care for pet.Among Millennials, that number more than doubles to 42%.9

As those percentages suggest, taking care of a pet isn’t cheap. Medical care is generally the number one expense. But vet bills only account for about 60% of pet-related costs.10 Of the average $27,245 pet owners spend on their companion animals over a ten-year period, 40% is used for things like adoption, food, grooming, supplies, and lodging.11

For many years, now, companies have recognized the importance of helping employees meet both their individual needs and the needs of their families. Family-oriented benefits such as health insurance, dependent care assistance, and family leave are staples of many benefits packages. What we understand today about workers’ devotion to their dogs and cats means it’s time to redefine family benefits to include pets.

Offering pet insurance is one option. A full 88% of all pet insurance customers say it’s is worth the cost.12 But the cost can be significant—as high as $50-$100 a month depending on where you live, the breed of the animal, and other factors. That’s why the number of employers offering pet insurance is on the rise. A 2018 survey found that 34% of employers offered it and projected an increase to 57% by sometime this year.13 Millennials are the number one demographic for pet insurance, with about 11% currently holding policies. 14 No doubt many others would take advantage of it as part of benefits package.

In addition to providing pet insurance, companies are also offering a pet care benefit, which can cover or help defray the costs of things like dog walking, “doggy daycare,” and obedience training.

And then there is the pet owner’s equivalent of family leave benefits. Along with maternity and paternity leave, many organizations have begun offering “pawternity” leave to employees who are helping a new pet acclimate to their home. In a recent survey, 68% of Millennial pet owners said they would welcome that benefit from their employers.15

Attracting and retaining Millennials is key to the future success of your company. But it’s also a challenge, since they are the generation most likely to change jobs.16 Offering them and their pets the same types of assistance you offer employees with human families—health coverage, dependent care, time off for milestones, etc.—can be a game changer for your recruitment and retention efforts.

And because both pet insurance and pet care reimbursement benefits are considered non-tax advantaged lifestyle reimbursement accounts, you have the flexibility to decide which services or products you will reimburse, the percentage of that reimbursement, and account maximums. Thankfully, you can add one or more of these pet benefits quickly and easily if you try out BASIC’s state-of-the-art integrated benefits platform Consumer Driven Accounts (CDA).

We offer a Pet Care Reimbursement Account and a Pet Insurance Reimbursement Account, along with over 30 in-demand benefits accounts that can be customized for your specific employees’ needs.


  1. “Top Employee Benefits To Attract And Retain Millennials In 2020,” PlanSource, March 2020:
  2. “Are Cities Going to the Dogs?” City Journal, October 2019:
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. “76% of Millennials Are Pet Parents – Here’s What They’ve Been Buying for Them,”YPulse, August 2020:
  6. “Generational Pet Ownership Explained,” Segmanta, 2020:
  7. “Millennials and Their Fur Babies,” TD Ameritrade, 2018:
  8. “How Much Do Americans Spend on Their Pets?” lenedu, August 2019:
  9. “Pets replace progeny for hesitant millennials,” Financial Times, December 2019:

10.   “76% of Millennials Are Pet Parents—Here’s What They’ve Been Buying for Them,” YPulse, August 2020:

  1. “Pet Adoption Statistics,”, October 2020:
  2. “More Employers Are Offering Pet Insurance Benefits, Here’s Why You Should Too,” smallbizdaily, September 2020:
  3. “Voluntary benefits now viewed as essential…” Wills Towers Watson, April 2018:
  4. “Generational Pet Ownership Explained,” Segmanta, 2020:
  5. “Millennials put off kids due to money—but pamper pets lavishly,” Ladders, May 2018:
  6. “5 benefits employers must offer to attract millennials,” EBN, October 2017: