Pet Expenses: Can You Afford a Furry Friend?

Pet Expenses Can You Afford a Furry FriendBella, Oliver, Oreo, Max… when thinking of adopting a pet, many people spend a lot of time thinking about a name. However, fewer people really think about the costs that come with owning a pet. Unfortunately, this often results in returning or abandoning the animal. 

Pet ownership can become pricey. It’s important to estimate the cost of the pet you are thinking about owning before getting the animal. That way you can see if you can realistically afford it. Read on to learn about the annual expenses of owning a pet to consider before adopting.


What are the costs of owning a pet?

When purchasing young or full-grown pets, there are many expenses. Some of these costs occur only when you first get the animal, and other costs occur routinely.  Besides the cost of the pet itself, you will need to make some adjustments in your budget for your new roommate. You will need to be able to pay for all of the equipment and supplies needed for your animal, medical care for your pet, and some additional upfront costs. 


1. Adoption Fees

One way to acquire a pet is through adoption. Pets can be adopted from your local humane society, animal care and control centers, and businesses like PetSmart or Petco. Adoption fees can be as low as $50, but there is no limit to the amount they can increase. 

Depending on the animal, fees and adoption rates are going to differ. Adopting can be pricey if you are in certain locations or looking for a sought-after breed, type, or age of animal. 


2. Breeder Fees

Another way to acquire a pet is purchasing through a breeder. Breeders are people who produce specific kinds of animals and sell them to others. Depending on the type of animal and breed, prices can get quite high. 

According to Forbes, if buying from a breeder, the cost of a dog could be well over $500. Some people pay thousands of dollars to get the exact animal they want. If your budget is tight, buying from a breeder is not the most economical option.


3. First-Year Expenses

These initial expenses often include vaccinations, spaying or neutering, training, litter boxes, collars and leashes, pet food and water bowls, and more. For a dog and cat, MoneyUnder30 states you could end up spending nearly $400-$600 on initial vet visits and other necessary pet care. The following list breaks down this initial cost of pet ownership into individual expenses:

  • Collar/Leash: $10-30
  • Litter box: $25
  • Spaying/Neutering $145-200
  • Medical exam: $70-130
  • Carrying Crate: $40-100


4. Medical Expenses

While pets provide love, comfort, and cuteness, sometimes there are health complications that can occur. As pets age, health issues may arise, such as cancer, back/hip problems, bladder issues, and more. This can often result in hefty vet bills and medications. 

Some of these medical expenses are regular veterinary care expenses. The average cost for a veterinary visit is $130-235 annually. While prescribed medication can cost $20 per month. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to make sure your animal is vaccinated, which is typically $15-25 annually. 

Although all of the medical expenses listed above are predictable, there are often medical expenses that are unexpected. One of the medical conditions that your pet could develop is diabetes, which requires your pet to have medications and blood work drawn frequently. The cost could be around $10,496 annually. 

Hip dysplasia is another complication that could require surgery and long-term medications costing around $7,815. For dogs who like to chew, an unexpected cost could be surgery to remove a stick lodged in their molars, which costs $1,656. Other ingestion of foreign objects is typical of curious cats and dogs. If your animal needs an object removed it is going to require surgery and cost around $2,964.


5. Pet Insurance

Just as you buy health insurance, pets can be insured in their own policy. This can help cover medical expenses, like those mentioned above. Pet insurance policies vary from species to species. According to Business Insider, the average pet insurance policy cost for dogs is $49 and the average insurance policy for cats is $29. 

Although it may seem like a large cost, pet insurance can help greatly if you have a dog with poor health or an accident-prone cat. Although the premiums you pay each month may seem like a large amount, having coverage can save you money in the long-run if an accident occurs.


6. Pet Sitter/Walker

Owning a pet gives you less flexibility when it comes to taking trips without your animal. You will have to coordinate a family member or friend to watch your pet, or line up a pet sitter before you can leave on a trip. This optional expense depends on how much you travel and how much supervision your pet needs.

Additionally, if you do not have the time, you may need to hire a dog walker to give your pet the exercise they need to be healthy. These walks give you a better chance of avoiding those unexpected medical expenses altogether. Hiring a dog walker can also benefit the youth seeking employment in your neighborhood. 


white dogHow much does it cost to have a dog?

Dog owners typically spend $115-300 per month on pet-related expenses.  Keep in mind that costs will vary depending on the size of your dog, the general health and well-being of your pet, and the brands that you prefer to buy for food or toys. Some of the monthly expenses are listed out below.

  • Dog food: $20-60
  • Toys: $25 or less/more
  • Treats: $20-40
  • Grooming: $30-90
  • Medical expenses- $20-30
  • Annual cost estimate = $1,380-3,600


cat laying by a window

How much does it cost to have a cat?

Cats are generally more affordable than dogs, so the monthly costs are significantly lower. This is due to their size and lifestyle habits. The average monthly cost of having a cat is between $40-50. The breakdown of the monthly cost is below. 

  • Cat food: $20
  • Toys: $5
  • Treats: $3
  • Litter: $13-15
  • Annual cost estimate = $480-600


fish in a fish tank

How much does it cost to have a fish?

The monthly costs of a fish will vary greatly depending on the type of fish, tank size, quantity, and other factors. An average monthly cost for a goldfish is between $15-30. However, a standard goldfish is not going to require as much maintenance as more exotic fish. The costs per month are listed below.

  • Fish food: $5-10
  • Water care: $10-20
  • Annual cost estimate = $180-360


Are you ready for the cost of having a pet?

Even though pets are great companions, add a layer of cuteness to every photo, and are some of the best roommates, it's important to take into consideration the costs that come with being a pet owner. Every animal varies, but they each have their own expenses. The bottom line is that you need to be mindful of all the additional costs a pet would bring into your life.

So you should think a lot about the name you want to call your animal because after all, you will be calling their name if you want their attention or want to reprimand them for digging in the flower pot you just planted. Just remember, names are important, but realizing the costs of having a pet and being able to fund all of these pet expenses might be more important yet. 




🐶A credit card can help with pet expenses and more. Read 9 Expenses Your First Credit Card Can Help You With in College.

🐱If you have a pet but struggle to keep up with the expenses, create a budget to help. Check out How to Create Your Budget to stay on top of your finances.