Family Finances

The Cost of Pet Ownership

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    • FNBO

      Feb 26 2020

The Cost of Pet Ownership

Understanding the time and financial commitment of caring for a pet

Have you been considering adding a fur-baby to your family?  Or, does your child have their eye on a creepy, crawly creature for their next birthday? Whatever the situation (or pet), before you make the decision to plunge into pet parenthood, it’s important to truly understand the commitment that you are about to make.

Time Commitment
Adopting a pet means that you are responsible for a living creature that is 100 percent dependent on your care. Before you say yes to the pet, do you have time each day to feed and care for it? Does your daily schedule allow you to play with and/or walk a pet one or more times a day? Do you know the expected lifespan of the animal? Do you foresee having adequate time to care for it for their entire lifespan? Do you travel a lot for fun and/or for work? If so, who would care for your pet while you’re away?  These are all things that need to be considered when determining if owning a pet is right for you. If your lifestyle allows you to care for a pet, the next thing you need to consider is whether or not you can afford it.

Financial Commitment
Regardless of the type of pet you choose, there will undoubtedly be one-time, ongoing and unexpected expenses associated with it. How much depends on the type of animal and/or the breed. You should research and consider these potential expenses carefully before committing to pet ownership.

One-time Expenses
One-time expenses generally include the costs to acquire your pet and the items you will need to adequately care for them such as:

  • Purchase/Adoption Fee – this could range from zero to a couple hundred or even thousands of dollars depending on the location and/or type and breed of the animal. For example, a dog or cat can be adopted from an animal shelter for as little as $50, whereas a pet purchased from a breeder may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
  • Necessities – again, depending on the animal, necessities include things such as crates, beds, food bowls, aquarium equipment, collars, leashes, litter boxes, etc. The prices for these necessities can vary greatly but ASPCA provides a financial breakdown of what these items could cost you.
  • Spaying/Neutering – if you decide to spay or neuter your pet, it could cost you anywhere from $145 to $200+, according to the ASPCA. However, you could shop around at various veterinarians in your area, or even animal shelters, to see if they will provide the service at a discounted price.

Ongoing Expenses
Pets require constant care and upkeep, thus a constant impact on your wallet. Common ongoing expenses include:

  • Food – It’s pretty much a no brainer that your pet will need to eat every day. Research your pet’s diet so that you understand which foods will be most beneficial to them. Then research the annual cost to see if you are willing to commit to that cost for the life of your pet. According to the ASPCA, this could anywhere from $12 per year for a fish to $400+ per year for a large dog.
  • Annual Pet Licenses – Most states require you to obtain a license to own dogs and cats as well as other types of exotic animals. Check the laws in your state to determine if your desired pet requires an annual license and how much it costs.  The good news is for cats and dogs, the fee is generally less than $50 per year.
  • Vaccinations and Medical Expenses – In order to maintain the license for your pet, your state may also require annual or semi-annual vaccinations such as the rabies vaccination. Other medical tests and vaccinations may be recommended by veterinarians but not required by law. It’s a good idea to check with a local veterinarian before you purchase a pet to see which vaccinations are required, which are recommended and how much they cost.

    Likewise, most veterinarians will recommend certain ongoing medications to help keep your pet healthy and safe such as flea and tick preventatives for dogs and cats. Research your pet and see what medications are recommended for that type of animal in your area and the associated costs.  The ASPCA estimates them to be approximately $70-$260 per year.
  • Grooming and Upkeep – Certain pets such as dogs, cats and even rabbits may require occasional grooming and upkeep by a professional in order to keep their coat looking good, their nails trimmed and even their teeth healthy. It’s best to research what is recommended for your pet before you adopt. The annual cost could range from $50 to hundreds of dollars.
  • Boarding and Pet Care – when you travel or if you are away for long hours during the day, your pet may require that you board them or hire someone to care for your pet at your home. According to HomeGuide, the average cost to board a dog in a kennel is $40 per night while the cost of doggy daycare is about $25 for a full day and $15 for a half day. A pet sitter that comes to your home to care for your dog costs $70 per night on average.  These costs could vary depending on where you live and the type of animal.

Unexpected Expenses
As with humans, things happen with your pet that may end up hitting your wallet with an unexpected expense. For example, a medical emergency or maybe Fido thought the chair leg was a dog bone.  It’s a good idea to set aside some cash in your emergency fund to cover pet related expenses.  As added protection, research the cost to purchase pet insurance for your new family member.  Pet insurance can help pay for expenses related to unexpected accidents and illnesses or ingesting something your pet shouldn’t have. However, depending on your plan, it may not cover expenses related to preexisting health conditions, hereditary disorders or developmental defects.


The articles in this blog are for informational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations. When making decisions about your financial situation, consult a financial professional for advice. Articles are not regularly updated, and information may become outdated.