Pet Care Benefit Stipends for Employees: How They Work

A pet care stipend is a company-funded amount employers give to employees for any pet related expenses, from food and supplies to veterinary bills.

Published October 1, 2023 by Sarah Bedrick


If you have a team of pet parents, operate in a pet-oriented industry, or want to make your benefits package more inclusive, a pet care stipend is one of the best employee benefits you can offer.

70% of American households own a pet. And practically all of us love animals.

They reduce stress levels, help us stay active, and make us happier people in general. These benefits translate to the workplace, where pets are linked to higher job satisfaction, increased productivity, and better overall health.

A pet care stipend is a fantastic way to show your employees you value their lives outside of work. It's also a way to acknowledge that family is not limited to just human connections. This approach fosters a more inclusive and supportive work environment, catering to the varying needs of your workforce and promoting a sense of belonging for all employees, regardless of their family structure.

In this guide, we'll tell you everything you need to know about offering pet care stipends.

Here's what is covered in this guide:

  1. What is a pet care stipend?
  2. What pet care expenses does a stipend cover?
  3. Pet care stipends vs. pet insurance benefits
  4. Reasons to offer a pet care stipend
  5. How employers offer pet care stipends

What is a pet care stipend?

Before we move on, let's define pet care stipends:

A pet care stipend is a fixed, company-funded amount employers to employees on an annual or monthly basis. This money can be used by the employee for any pet related expenses, from food and supplies to veterinary bills.

Like other perk stipends, pet care stipends can be a set amount or vary per employee, based on individual expenses and the type/number of pets they have. Many employers offer a combination of both, setting an upper limit on stipend disbursement and allowing employees to submit individual receipts for reimbursement.

You might also see pet care stipends referred to as:

  • Pet care allowance
  • Animal care allowance
  • Pet reimbursement benefits
  • Veterinary expense reimbursement

Pet care stipends are fringe benefits, meaning you'll offer them in addition to salary and other company benefits like health insurance and vacation days. They're taxable, which is why it's best to offer them using perk stipend software.

pet care stipend

For some employees, family includes pets!

Foster a culture of inclusivity by offering a pet care stipend.


What pet care expenses does a stipend cover?

The items you cover with your pet care stipend will depend on your company's policies, budget, and type of animals your employees own.

Common expenses include:

  • Pet food
  • Supplies like bowls, beds, leashes, toys, etc.
  • Veterinary visits & exams
  • Vaccinations & routine procedures
  • Pet insurance plans
  • Pet wellness (e.g., dental care, X-rays, and preventative care)
  • Grooming services and supplies
  • Dog walking services and doggy day care

The beauty of offering a stipend is its flexibility. You set the amount, then your employees spend it on the expenses they need that month.

Pet care stipends vs. pet insurance benefits

Companies offer pet benefits in two main ways: stipends and company-sponsored insurance plans.

Offering pet care stipends

An employer may offer a pet care stipend in one of three ways:

  1. Part of a larger benefits package. Pet-focused employers sometimes bundle stipends with other pet-related benefits like pet health insurance or adoption coverage.
  2. A lump sum. The most common and easiest way to offer stipends. Employers set an amount, disburse it through payroll, and employees can use it however they want.
  3. On a case-by-case basis. Some companies prefer to offer individual stipends to employees based on their needs or requests. This could be in the form of itemized reimbursements or case-by-case payments.

Example: Company A offers employees $100/month to cover the costs of pet ownership. If they want to adopt a new pet, the company will also reimburse up to 50% of the adoption fee.

Offering pet insurance benefits

A pet insurance employee benefit allows team members to enroll their pets in a company-sponsored health insurance plan. Employees pay a monthly fee for coverage, and the policy is administered directly through the employer's benefits program.

There are four parts to a pet insurance policy:

  1. Premium: Employees pay a monthly fee for coverage.
  2. Deductible: They pay a certain amount out-of-pocket before their insurance kicks in.
  3. Reimbursement rate: After that point, the insurance plan will cover a percentage of eligible vet bills (usually up to 90%).
  4. Caps and exclusions: The insurer places limits on types of care and coverage and the amount they'll cover in a given year.

The key difference between pet care stipends and pet insurance is that with a stipend, employees can use the money however they want. With an insurance plan, coverage is limited to specific veterinary services inside of the policy's parameters.

It's also worth noting that, compared to stipends, the intricacies of pet insurance make it quite difficult. The average cost to insure adult dogs is between $28.06 and $48.46. They can easily cover their own policy with your stipend and still have some money left over!

Example: Company A offers employees pet health insurance through their benefits plan. They pay $25/month per pet, with a 90% reimbursement rate and up to $2,000 in annual coverage.

Leading organizations include our furry friends in their benefits package.

A pet stipend is certainly a unique employee benefit. Not many companies offer it, and those that do are usually in a related industry (e.g., a veterinary clinic, dog toy manufacturer, software company, or insurance provider).

Here's a look at some of our favorite petcare stipends and reimbursements:

  • Chewy allows new pet parents two weeks of "paw-ternity leave" (a.k.a., work from home) to bond with their new furry friends. The organization also reimburses up to $250 per adoption.
  • Petco offers full-time DVMs $3,500 per year to cover anything they need (including pet expenses). The company also offers discounted (or free) access to all its resources.
  • Reddit offers employees stipends that cover pet wellness plans and everyday care expenses. Plus, they offer pet insurance at a discounted rate.
  • Rover covers pet-sitting costs for its employees (on the app) and offers a $1,000 stipend to cover adoption and pet-related expenses.

Reasons to offer a pet care stipend

Stipends are easy to offer, so some employers offer pet-specific ones just because they can! But there are more meaningful reasons to include a pet stipend in your benefits package.

  • Lowers care costs for pet parents. For employees, a stipend can be the difference between effectively addressing their pet's medical issues or facing difficult decisions about treatment affordability.
  • Higher job satisfaction and improved morale. 66% of employees say financial stress negatively impacts their lives inside and outside of work. Offering a stipend to cover everyday expenses or an insurance policy gives your pet-owning employees one less thing to worry about.
  • Supports all your employees' family members. Like child care benefits, pet-related benefits are a perfect way to extend your support beyond your team members and their professional lives.
  • Reputation as a pet-friendly work environment. Our society is deeply connected to pets, so promoting your pet-friendly benefits makes you seem like an all-around friendlier place to work.

If you already offer general perk stipends or a lifestyle spending account, you can offer these benefits even more easily. All you have to do is advertise the stipend as pet-friendly to get your team members excited.


How employers offer pet care stipends

If you work in a pet- or animal-related industry, you have to offer pet care stipends to compete. For other employers, it's a nice-to-have that will certainly attract more of the best candidates out there and help you stand out from other companies.

Follow these steps to offer them the right way:

1. Determine eligible expenses and how much you can cover.

According to the ASPCA, the average pet owner spends roughly $1,400 each year to care for their furry pal. Other data puts this figure a bit higher. A breakdown from estimates annual pet care expenses to be anywhere from $773 to $1,848.

Here's a breakdown of the most common expenses and the amount employees spend on them:

  • Pet food: $200 to $700
  • Vaccines and routine clinic visits: $200 to $500
  • Heartworm/flea prevention: $175 to $200
  • Treats and toys: $100 to $300
  • Vitamins and supplements: $58
  • Grooming tools: $25 to $75
  • License: $15
  • Pet sitting: Variable

Companies usually base their stipend on these figures. It's typical to offer monthly stipends between $50 and $100, but this amount can be adjusted depending on the type of pets and level of care needed.

Pro tip: Some pet owners have to deal with emergencies and higher care costs. Pet care stipends are meant to help them pay for regular expenses. If you're serious about supporting the well-being of your employees' pets, you might consider offering a pet insurance benefit as well.

2. Set employee eligibility requirements.

Of course, it only makes sense to offer pet benefits to employees who own pets. But which employees are eligible?

  • Most employers allow benefits enrollment for all full-time employees. Some offer access to benefits immediately. Others require 90 days of continuous employment before enrollment eligibility.
  • Some employers have caveats for pet owners who choose to work remotely instead of hybrid or in-office.
  • Companies that employ lots of contractors on a 30-40-hour/week basis extend their benefits packages to those workers as well.
  • Interns and other part-time workers might not have access to all benefits, but stipends could be available depending on the type of worker and duration of employment.

3. Build your program with Compt.

Once you know who's eligible, establish a systematic approach to stipend disbursements and expense management. Compt automates this process, making it significantly easier and less error-prone.

With Compt's stipend platform, you can:

  • Customize your program based on employment status (new, past 90 days, part-time, contract, etc.)
  • Make location-based changes (with multi-currency support)
  • Set an upper limit
  • Offer complete coverage or select reimbursements

Not a customer yet? Schedule a demo now!

4. Onboard your employees.

For current employees, all you need to do is add the stipend amount to their budget. New employees have a similar and equally straightforward process.

Just make sure they know the basics:

  • Eligibility requirement
  • How to enroll
  • Maximum amount they can claim per month/year
  • Documentation needed to submit a claim (receipts, invoices, etc.)
  • Specified time frame to submit claims

5. Reimburse through payroll and track enrollment.

Using Compt, you can process pet care reimbursements or program it to automatically send out the stipend amount each month. With our platform, you can also track employees' enrollment in the program and measure its success.


Other Types of Stipends

Below is a list of the most common types of stipends:

Sarah Bedrick

Chief Marketing Officer

Prior to Compt, Sarah worked at HubSpot for 6+ years, where she helped to build, scale, and grow the HubSpot Academy division. She is obsessed with understanding what makes a company culture great, being a career and life coach to people in tech, and creating cherished memories with her husband and two young kids. Her favorite Compt stipend category is Health & Wellness.


Ready to offer pet care stipends?

With Compt's stipend reimbursement software, you can easily create, automate, and manage your pet stipend programs. We're 100% tax-compliant.

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