Thinking of getting a pet? Take a moment to go over the costs of pets before taking on the responsibility of proper pet care and ownership.
Pets become part of the family and enrich our lives in many ways. The costs can seem like a small price to pay for a new furry family member. Just be aware of the costs around having an taking care of a pet, so that you can plan financially and include these costs in your existing household budget.
Explore this Article:
- One Time Pet Costs
- Recurring Pet Costs
- Extra Pet Costs
- Calculating Pet Food Costs
- The Time Costs of Pets
- Pet Fees and Fines
- Estimated Total Pet Costs
- How to Save Money with a Pet
- Create a Pet Budget
The costs of a pet depend on a lot of things. Dogs come with different costs than cats, and fish and hamsters have completely different costs as well. Pet costs for dogs and cats can also depend on the breed and size of the animal. For instance, some dog breeds have greater risks for hip problems or certain cancers.
Some of the costs you’ll run into with your pet include health, grooming, food, toys, treats, pet supplies, and emergency costs.
*the prices below are estimated costs.
One Time Pet Costs
+$50 to $600
Adoption fees are going to vary depending on what kind of animal you are adopting. Adopting a cat is going to be cheaper than adopting a dog. For example, cats can cost as little as $25 in adoption fees while the adoption fees for dogs range closer to $50 and higher.
Breed, age, and size can also factor into how much an animal shelter will charge you in adoption fees. If an animal needed a lot of medical care while they were at the shelter, they might cost a bit more to adopt.
But generally adopting rather than shopping for a pet is much less expensive than buying your pet from a breeder. Adoption fees are even more worthwhile because they often also include things like spaying, neutering, and essential vaccines all in the same cost.
Pet Prices from Breeders
+$800 to $2,000 or more
Buying a pet can be a lot more expensive, but there are many advantages to purchasing your pet from a breeder instead of a shelter. You can get a puppy, a hypoallergenic, nonshedding, or low shedding dog, or you can get a specific dog breed you’ve always wanted.
But purchasing a pet from a breeder is going to cost a lot more than adopting an animal from your local shelter. Dog breeders might offer payment plans so you can pay them in a few installments rather than all at once, but generally a puppy from a breeder is going to cost you $1,000 or more.
Spay and Neutering
+$25 to $80
Spaying is when the vet removes the ovaries and uterus in a female animal so they can’t get pregnant.
Neutering is often referred to fixing male animals so they can’t get female animals pregnant, but neutering can refer to both sexes.
Many people don’t plan on breeding their animals so they get their pets spayed or neutered. Getting your pets fixed can keep you from dealing with a lot of problems, including your dog getting a neighbor’s dog pregnant, your animal developing certain cancers, dealing with your dog in heat, dealing with a more aggressive or territorial male animal, or dealing with them marking their territory. It can also make licensing in some states a lot cheaper if your animal is neutered because you are helping to keep the stray population down.
For more in depth information about neutering visit the American Veterinary Medical Association.
+$15 to $40
Licensing is when you pay the state to receive an official identification number and tag for your pet. This gives your pet an ID number and a tag with this number on it. This also marks you as the official guardian of the animal.
Licensing prices and rules will depend on your state, but getting licensed can keep your oet safe from the law. In many places it’s the law to have your pet tagged, even your cat. It’ll also show others that your pet is vaccinated and help your pet get found and returned to you easier if they ever get lost.
Licensing is also a lot cheaper if your pet is neutered.
A microchip implant is a tiny chip that gets inserted under the skin of your pet. You can get your pet microchipped at the vet.
This microchip can then be scanned by a vet or animal shelter in the case your pet gets lost, and the scan will tell them your name and phone number to contact you.
All pets are going to come with their own set of needs. If you get a dog you might need a kennel and dog bed, if you get a cat you’ll need a litter box and scratching post, if you get a fish you’ll need a fish tank with things to put inside, if you get a hamster you’ll need a cage, tunnels, wheels, and toys for them to play with.
Many of these items are going to be a one time purchase you’ll make in preparation for welcoming your new pet into your home. But some of these may need replaced eventually.
You can also find the below items in cheaper or more expensive form, depending on how much you’re willing to spend. When you’re planning on getting a pet, you can visit wherever you want to buy your pet supplies and total up all the things you would buy for them to see how much they’ll all cost you.
- Food and Water Bowl: +$5 to $20
- Toys: +$3 to $20
- Bed: +$20 to $100
- Blanket: +$5 to $20
- Collar: +$5 to $30
- Leash: +$10 to $15
- Crate: +$20 to $200
- Travel Crate: +$20 to $100
Recurring Pet Costs
+$10 to $50
The cost of food is going to depend on a number of factors like, what kind of pet you have, how big they are, how old they are, and how active they are.
Some animals, regardless of breed, are just more active than others and will need more nourishment. Other pets might be less active but still want lots of food and treats all the time, causing them to gain weight. Be familiar with your pet, consult with your vet, and learn how much food they really need.
+$5 to $20
Some animals are very treat-motivated and some are not. Depending on your pet you might spend a lot on treats or hardly ever buy treats.
But treats can be a great way to reward your pet for good behavior, keep them busy with yummy things they can chew on for a while, clean their teeth with dental sticks, and train them.
+$30 to $100
Your pet will need certain vaccinations every so often to keep them protected from illness, disease, and parasites. There are also vaccines and medicines that your puppy or kitten might need when their young, and then other vaccines they’ll need regularly later in life.
What Vaccines Does My Puppy Need?
- Bordetella Bronchiseptica
- Canine Distemper
- Canine Hepatitis
- Canine Parainfluenza
- Corona Virus
- Kennel Cough
- Lyme Disease
What Vaccines Does My Dog Need? (every 1 to 3 years)
- Lyme disease
What Vaccines Does My Cat Need?
- Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus/Herpesvirus 1 (FVRCP)
- Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
- Feline Panleukopenia (FPV)
- Feline leukemia virus (FELV)
+$30 to $100
Just like how it’s important for you to get an annual physical every year, it’s important for your pets to get a check up at the vets every once in a while. This can help prevent greater vet costs in the future by helping you take preventative measures now.
+$15 to $50
Heartworm is a parasite that pets can get from mosquitos. Heartworm can damage heart, lungs, and cause many other problems for dogs and cats. Heartworm prevention usually consists of medicine or injections they get every 6 to 12 months.
If your pet already has heartworms the treatment can cost much more than preventative care. Some heartworm treatments can cost up to $1,000.
Flea and Tick Prevention
+$5 to $15
Animals can be susceptible to fleas and ticks. Not only are fleas and ticks uncomfortable for your pet, they can also carry diseases like Lyme disease and make your pet sick.
Pets can get fleas and ticks from being outside or being around other animals that have fleas or ticks. You can buy shampoos and collars to help keep your pet from getting infested with fleas or keep ticks from latching onto them while playing outside.
+$30 to $100
There are many places you can use to get your pet groomed. There might be local pet grooming places, your vet might also provide grooming services, and there are chain places like PetSmart where you can go.
Some pets need more grooming than others. For example, long haired dogs or dogs with hair instead of fur need a lot more regular grooming to prevent harmful matting in their coat. Other dogs might shed a lot and need some grooming help to calm down their shedding.
Grooming can also include other important things like clipping nails, cleaning teeth, and cleaning ears. Visit PetSmart to see their grooming prices.
Extra Pet Costs
Accidents, shedding, and chewing can wreak havoc on your house if you don’t have a plan for effective cleaning measures. You might want to get a carpet shampooer, which can cost around $90 or more. Cleaning spray for the occasional accident can also cost around $5 a bottle. You might also want a vacuum with better capabilities for dealing with pet hair, which will also cost around $90 or more.
+$50 to $1,500
Not all pets require training but generally dogs do. You can try and train your dog yourself but there’s no guarantee this will be enough. Your dog could have special challenges, especially if you’re adopting a dog that might have trauma from their past.
Dog training facilities often offer group classes, one-on-one classes with a trainer, day training, and boarding where you can drop your dog off at doggie daycare for play and training.
For example, dropping your dog off for the day can cost you $50. Paying for a monthly group class could cost you $30 or more a month. Private training with a professional can cost $500 to $1,500 or more for a set number of sessions and depending on the needs and problems of your dog. These prices will all depend on where you go to get your dog trained so look up dog trainers near you to research your local dog training prices.
Special Training and Certifications
Sometimes your pet isn’t just a friend or family member. Sometimes they also help you with daily tasks or support you in an important way. If you want to take your dog training to the next level you can certify your pet as a service animal.
Pet Emergency Fund
It is a good idea to create an emergency fund for your pet. At least have $1,000 set aside in case of some kind of pet emergency.
Illness, disease, surgeries, and necessary training for new behavioral problems can cost anywhere between $100 to $1,000 and more. Don’t let these unexpected pet costs ruin your bank account. Plan for the future today so you’re ready when major expenses suddenly come your way.
+$15 to $45
If you don’t have time to take your dog on lots of walks, you might want to think about hiring a dog walker. You can find dog walkers near you online or you can use dog walking apps like Rover or Wag to find a dog walker near you.
Pet Boarding Costs
+$35 to $100 per night
Luckily, most pets don’t need a babysitter if you want to stay out late on a Friday night, but if you’re going away for a night or more, you might need to higher a dog sitter or pay for pet boarding.
Pet Travel Fees
+$125 per flight
When flying with a pet you have 2 options. You can check your pets or keep them with you on the plane as a carry on. Checking your pet usually costs more than keeping your pet with you as a carry on. You’ll need to keep them in a certain sized travel bag, many times you might need to provide documentation for your pet like their most recent vaccines, and you’ll need to pay the airlines pet fees when you check in for your flight.
How much it costs to fly with your pet will depend on the airline you use. For example, Southwest airlines has $95 pet fee per flight and per pet. But most other airlines, like United Airlines, have a $125 pet fee per flight and per pet.
Checked pets from many airlines will cost you an additional $200 per kennel for each flight.
|What’s the cheapest airline to fly with your pet?||*Southwest.|
Calculating Pet Food Costs
How much your dog actually needs to eat might not be exactly the same as the basic food recommendations for the size of your dog. Take into consideration how active your dog is and whether your dog is already at a healthy weight. Always consult with your vet with any questions about how to care for your dog.
If you have a small dog between 3 and 6 pounds, you should feed your dog around 1/3 to 1/2 cup of dog food or 140 to 230 calories. A 10 to 15 pound dog needs about 3/4 to 1 cup of dog food or 340 to 465 calories. A 20 pound dog needs about 1 and 1/3 cups of dog food or 575 calories. A medium sized dog of 30 to 40 pounds needs 1 and 3/4 to 2 and 1/4 cups or 780 to 970 calories. Larger dogs starting at 50 pounds need 2 and 2/3 cups of dog food or 1145 calories. A 60 to 70 pound dog needs 3 to 3 and 1/2 cups of dog food or 1300 to 1475 calories. An 80 to 90 pound dog needs around 3 and 3/4 to 4 and 1/4 cups of dog food or 1630 to 1780 calories. Finally, a very large, 100 pound or more dog, needs 4 and 1/2 cups of dog food or about 1925 calories each day.
There are also basic food recommendations for your cat! For example, a cat that weights 5 pounds typically needs about 1/4 to 1/3 cups if cat food. A 10 pound cat needs about 3/8 to 1/2 cups of cat food. And a larger 15 pound cat needs about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of cat food every day.
Keep in mind the type of cat you have and consult your doctor about what’s a normal weight for your cat.
The Time Costs of Pets
Pets need your attention. You need to play with them, take them out for walks, take your dog out to go potty, do extra cleaning in the house to get rid of pet hair, clean litter boxes, kennels, cages, tanks, and take time out of your schedule to take them to training or vet appointments.
All of these things are going to cost you time.
If you have a dog, it’s recommended you take them out on 15 to 30 minute walks about 3 times a day. If you can take them out on at least 1 walk a day, then you should at least try and spend 10 minutes playing with them inside the house each day and walk them at least 2 to 3 times a week.
Again, be familiar with your own pet and how much exercise is too much or too little for them. Also keep in mind any physical restraints your pet might have when determining how much you should walk them.
Toy sized dogs need to go on walks that are 30 to 60 minutes long (or 2 to 5 miles). Small dogs need 60 minute walks (or 3 to 5 miles). Medium dogs need 60 to 80 minute walks (or 5 to 10 miles). Finally, larger, active dogs need about 60 to 120 minutes of walking time (or 8 to 15 miles).
Pet Fees and Fines
There are several fees and fines you need to be aware of before bringing a pet into your life.
Check the leash laws in your area to avoid any fines for breaking local pet laws. You could get fined up to $100 for having your pet “at large,” meaning not on a leash in areas where they are supposed to be leashed.
Every town is going to have their own rules, but most commonly, unless your dog is in an enclosed, free range dog park, or your own private property, they need to be on a leash or you can get fined.
You could also get in trouble if your pet isn’t licensed, microchipped, spayed, or neutered.
When your pet gets picked up by Animal Control and taken to “pet jail,” you’ll have to pay a fine and fee in order to get your animal back. You might get fined by both animal control and the animal shelter. The animal might also charge you a fee for each night your lost or impounded animal stayed with them. There could also be additional fees for reclaiming your dog if they weren’t wearing their license or if they weren’t neutered.
If you live in an apartment and pay rent you might have to pay a pet fee each month along with your regular rent. Many apartments don’t allow pets, but the apartment complexes that do allow pets often have what’s called “pet rent.” This monthly pet rent fee can cost anywhere from $30 to $50 a month.
Estimated Total Pet Costs
The American Kennel Club has estimated the total costs of pets over the course of their entire life. They’ve found that small dogs (who live about 15 years) have a total cost around $15,05. Medium dogs (who live about 13 years) cost about $15,782. And large dogs (who live about 10 years) cost around $14,480 over the course of their entire life.
To put it more into perspective, the costs of the first year of pet ownership is anywhere from $395 to $2,455. Many times the most you’ll spend on your pet is in the first year of getting your pet and getting all the supplies they need.
After the first year of pet ownership is over you can expect to spend between $326 and $1,967 each year for the rest of your pets life on medical and general pet expenses.
Money Under 30 also has some estimates on the total costs of dogs and cats. They say that cats can cost anywhere between $430 to $870 each year and dogs can cost anywhere between $380 to $1,170 each year.
But what about the costs of other types of pets like crabs, hamsters, and fish? Hermit crabs are some of the cheapest pets you can get with a small annual cost of $45, gerbils only cost about $109 a year, fish cost about $105 a year, lizards cost around $190 a year, and birds can cost $400 or more each year.
How to Save Money with a Pet
By now you might be second guessing whether you can afford a pet or not. If some of these basic costs are too much for you, then it might be better to wait before adding a pet to your family. But there are many ways to cut down the costs of owning a pet.
- Do your own grooming. If you don’t want to spend money on grooming get a regular furred dog, not a long haired dog.
- Use your local humane society. By getting your basic vet services at your local humane society or animal shelter you can support a charity for animals and potentially get better prices on vet care.
- Choose healthier breeds. Don’t get breeds that are known for being plagued with many health problems.
- Adopt instead of buying from a breeder. You can save thousands of dollars by adopting instead of buying from a breeder.
- Train the dog yourself. Use self-help books and online courses to train your dog yourself.
- Get pet health insurance. Pet insurance can be as little as $15 a month and help you save big on future medical expenses.
Create a Pet Budget
Create a budget specifically for your pets to help you calculate all the costs and fit them into your household budget.