The Costs of Owning a Pet

Before you come home with a new pet, it’s important to look realistically at the costs associated with pet care and evaluate whether you can really afford one. Knowing the costs of each type of pet up front can help you determine what kind of pet you can get, and helps you avoid any unexpected expenses in the future that could be tragic for your wallet. While we want everyone to have the new furry best friend they’ve always wanted, it’s important to make sure no one goes home with more pets than they can afford.

Here’s our list of the real costs of owning a pet—and it’s more than you might think.

1. Initial cost

This may surprise you, but according to the ASPCA, the first-year cost of owning a pet actually comes out to $1,000. This is much more than most people budget for when looking to adopt a new fur baby. This includes spaying or neutering, an initial medical exam, a collar, carrying crate, and a litter box and scratching post for a cat. All that together already hits the $500-$600 range for both dogs and cats, and that doesn’t even include food, litter, toys, or pet health insurance. When planning to adopt, make sure that you can afford to drop $500+ right out of the gate.

2. Recurring Expenses

Now that you’ve brought a new pet into your home, it’s time for all the recurring expenses. These are things you’ll have to keep buying all the time, like food and litter, but also treats, pet health insurance, toys, and annual medical exams. And, don’t forget the other medications your pet will need like flea and tick medication and heartworm prevention. Average cost yearly after the initial year still runs at $700+ for just a cat, with dogs coming in at $1000+, relative to the size of the dog, of course.

3. Unexpected Expenses

All of the above expenses are things you can plan for. But what about the unexpected? What happens when Muffin eats chocolate and has to be rushed to the vet? Or when Luna gets a fishhook stuck in her paw? Sometimes there are expenses that you just can’t see coming, whether it’s a kidney stone, an accident, or another health problem. For cases like this, it’s good to put away an emergency fund, since those unexpected costs can run anywhere from $2000-$4000 each time.

4. Ways to save

While the costs of pet ownership are unpredictable in many ways, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save in some areas. Food and treats can be bought in bulk for a discount and you can find coupons online for the pet store before you shop. Consider also washing your dog at home sometimes to save on trips to the groomers or getting hand-me-down equipment like leashes or crates from friends or relatives who may have items they aren’t using.

Make sure that you can afford a pet before you adopt. If you don’t, you may be faced with the choice between a vet bill and your rent next month. That choice isn’t fair to you or your pet—so make wise choices, and don’t put yourself in that position. Think carefully before adding a furry friend to your family, and make sure that you can budget accordingly without a problem.