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Owning a pet can bring immeasurable joy to a person’s life. Those pets become a part of the family. But as with any extra mouth to feed in a household, there is a cost to consider before making the leap to find a pet.
In this article, we broke down the costs of pet ownership including the purchase costs, healthcare costs, annual recurring costs, and one-time costs. In short, you can expect to spend about $500 to $1,000 each year on pet ownership, depending upon how much carpet cleaning you do.
Cost of Purchasing a Pet
Before you decide to get a cat or a dog, you’ll need to know what you’ll have to pay upfront for them so you can see if you can afford it.
According to data from the ASPCA and PetFinder, this is what you can expect to pay to bring home a cat or dog.
- Cost range for adopting: For a cat, you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $60, while kittens are closer to $125. For dogs, it can range from $50 to $140 or so, with puppies going for much more at approximately $310. But these fees are benchmarks—they will vary depending upon location, with rural areas typically charging less than cities do. When you adopt, the pets should have all their current shots, and they may be spayed or neutered. You’ll need to check with the agency you adopt from.
- Cost range for buying non-purebred: The cost of buying a non-purebred dog or cat can vary greatly. If you buy a puppy at a pet store, you might have to pay up to $1,000. But if you find another pet owner whose dog has just had a litter and they’re eager to get rid of the puppies, you might be able to find one for free.
- Cost range for buying purebred: If you want a purebred cat or dog, be prepared to cough up some serious cash. How much you will pay depends upon the breed and other factors. You likely won’t walk away without paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000, and often it will be far more than that. With this purchase, you’ll get registration papers to document the fact that your pet is a purebred.
Annual Healthcare Costs for a Pet
Emergencies happen without warning. More than $16 billion was shelled out for vet care in 2016 in the U.S. Some of the healthcare costs you’ll have with your dog or cat include:
- Accidents: If your pet is hit by a car, your vet bill may run in the tens of thousands of dollars.
- Illness: Illnesses, such as respiratory issues or abscesses in the lungs, can run thousands of dollars, particularly if a pet has to stay with the vet for days during recovery or if there is surgery required.
- Vomiting or diarrhea: That can cost $600 for dogs and $800 for cats.
- Mass: This may run $900 for dogs and $1,200 for cats.
- Seizures: It may cost $1,600 to see a vet for that in a dog.
- Teeth issues: Teeth cleaning can cost in the neighborhood of $500, while extractions can add another $1,000 or $2,000 to that bill.
- Insurance costs: If you want pet insurance, you can expect to pay $500 for dogs in yearly premiums or $300 for cats.
- Vaccinations: Vaccinations can cost anywhere from $20 to $200 for the first year and up to $100 for every year after that.
How to Save on Pet Healthcare Costs
- Take care of your pet’s teeth: By brushing your dog’s teeth, you can ward off heart and kidney issues and cut down on medical bills. Just don’t use the same toothpaste you use on your own teeth because it might bother your pet’s stomach.
- Spay or neuter them: Spaying and neutering can cut down your pet’s risk of certain cancers, such as testicular, ovarian, and uterine. It’s not a costly procedure and can save you money in the long run while protecting your pet’s health.
- Get health insurance for your pet: One big emergency can set you back a lot of money at the vet’s office. If you want to protect your bottom line, you can purchase pet insurance. Carefully read the details and decide if it would be a good deal for you. Read more: Is pet insurance worth it?
- Don’t skimp on the quality pet food: What you’re after with pet food is quality, not quantity. Buy a nutritionally sound food, and don’t give them too much. You’ll be paying more to feed them than you should, and you’ll cause your pet to gain too much weight. That can lead to more health problems.
You should strongly consider insurance if one bad accident will be more than you can handle. Taking good care of your pet can save you a ton of money and worry.
One-Time Costs for Keeping a Pet
There are some expenses you’ll only have once with a pet. Those include:
- Fencing or a kennel: It depends on the size and materials used, but you’re looking at $500 to thousands of dollars.
- Training: You can expect to pay between $50 to $200 for obedience training.
- Crate or training pads: Until your fence is ready and your dog is trained, they’ll need to sleep in a crate unless you don’t mind accidents. That can cost from $25 to $250.
Other Yearly Costs for Pets
You’ll also need money for:
- Grooming costs: These can run between a basic $30 per session up to $200 per session.
- Food: This will vary depending upon whether you have a cat or a large or small dog. In general, expect to pay between $120 to $500 a year.
- Carpet cleaning: This can run $200 to $500, depending upon the size and number of your rooms.
- Pet toys: This won’t be much, maybe around $30, but it does add up.
- Leashes: For your dog you’ll want leashes. They will cost $10 to $30 for each one.
- Kitty litter: You’ll spend between $70 to $120 each year for kitty litter.
While there are a lot of costs to consider, sometimes pet ownership can’t be weighed in terms of dollars and cents. The joy a pet can bring to your life is immeasurable.
What to Consider Before Buying a Pet
- Whether you have children: If you do, you might want to spend the extra money on a puppy, since an older dog or cat will generally pass away sooner. Losing a pet is a traumatic experience for children, so you may want to postpone that as long as you can by buying one young.
- Your motives for buying one: If you’re going through a major life crisis like a divorce or the loss of a loved one, now might not be the time to buy a pet. You want to make sure you won’t change your mind later once your emotions stabilize.
- How much time you have: Owning a pet is a time commitment. You don’t want to get a pet only to realize you can’t or don’t want to give them the time they deserve.
- What kind of animal you should get: If you’re not a fan of taking walks, maybe a cat is a better pick for you than a dog.
- Your finances: Pets can set you back financially—there’s food, vaccinations, and vet bills. If you are already struggling to put food on your table, you might want to hold off on adopting or buying a pet until you have a little more available cash.
- Your lifestyle: Do you travel a lot? Think about who will care for your pet while you’re on the road. If you don’t have someone in mind, think about the expense of boarding them while you’re traveling.
- Your health: Does anyone in your household have allergies to pets that will make their life miserable? You may not want to bring a pet into your household at the expense of another family member.
How to Reduce the Costs of Getting a Pet
If you’re dead set on getting a pet but you aren’t crazy about what it will do to your budget, there are ways around that. Here are some money-saving tips for taking care of your pet.
- Get your pet through a no-kill shelter: These shelters often place pets with homes for a nominal fee.
- Ask your friends: Your friends may know someone who has a pet that has had puppies or kittens they may be trying to give away for free.
Author: Shannon Serpette