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Unexpected Expenses of Owning a Pet: Can You Afford a Furry Friend?

August 26, 2019

Bella, 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. Read on to learn about the expenses to consider before adopting a pet.

Young couple with their new dog

What are the upfront costs of owning a pet?


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, ASPCA adoption centers, and PetSmart or Petco. There are many animals that are in need of a great home and you could give them just that! 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. 


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.


First Year Expenses

When purchasing young or full grown pets, there are going to be some initial expenses. This often includes vaccinations, spaying or neutering, training, litter boxes, collars and leashes, 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 necessities.

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


Medical Expenses

While pets provide love, comfort, and cuteness, unfortunately 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. Costs will vary each year for vet visits depending on your pet’s current health, but always be prepared.

Regular Visit Expenses:

    • Annual Visit: $130-235
    • Flea and heart worm medication: $20/month, $240 annually
    • Vaccinations: $15-25

Unexpected Medical Conditions:

    • Diabetes: Pets with diabetes will be required to have medications and blood work drawn frequently. The cost could be around $10,496 annually.
    • Hip dysplasia: This requires pets to need long-term medications and have surgery. The cost is around $7,815.
    • Stick lodged in molars: This is a very common issue for dogs who like to chew. It often requires surgery to remove the lodged stick and costs around $1,656.
    • Ingestion of foreign object: This is very typical for cats and dogs because they are curious and pick things up. If your animal needs an object removed it is going to require surgery and cost around $2,964.


What are the monthly and annual expenses of owning a pet?

There are some expenses that will not occur every month, but will occur annually. There are going to be some expenses that are necessities for pet health, such as vet visits, vaccinations, food, and other miscellaneous costs. Then there will be costs that occur every once in awhile, such as toys and treats, boarding, and grooming. The small expenses can begin to add up.


pet yellow lab

What are the expenses for having a dog?

A monthly estimated cost for a dog is between $115-300. Keep in mind that costs will vary depending on size and other qualities.

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


pet cat on couch


What are the monthly expenses for having 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.

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


pet goldfish


What are the monthly expenses for having 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.

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



Are you ready for the cost of having a pet?

It's important when considering getting a pet to take into consideration the costs that come with it. Every animal varies, but they each have their own expenses. Be mindful and consider waiting to adopt a pet until you have enough room in your budget to provide all the care your new friend will need.



Be smart with your spending and choose to get a pet when it best suits you! Start your savings plans with 6 Smart Ways to Save for Your Future

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.