July 23, 2020

How Much Does Getting a Dog or Cat Really Cost?


Do you have a spare $1,000 for pet care? If that sounds like a ridiculous amount, it really isn’t, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The ASPCA estimates the first-year costs of a dog or a cat will cost its owners at least about $1,000, if not more.

Common Costs of a New Dog or Cat

Adoption Fees: $25 – $500 one-time cost

Adoption fees can range from a little to a whole lot, but prepare yourself for anything from $25 to all the way to $500. And, if buying outright from a breeder, you’ll usually be paying hundreds more. Prepare for $100-$2,000 for pure breeds.

Food: $20 – $50 per month

Plan for about $20-$50 a month for dog or cat food. It will be less for other animals. But, your furrier friends will cost you $240-$600 in food alone throughout the first year.

New Pet Supplies: $50 – $150 one-time cost

You new family member will need a lot of items during its first days with you. You’ll need food bowls and toys. Throw in a crate or a bed. Leashes and tags. It adds up quick. Budget for $50-$150, depending on the pet, your needs and your wants for your new friend.

Vet Bills: $50 – $300

Fido will need some vet attention during his first year. He’ll need a good dose of puppy or kitty vaccines (Budget $50-$300) along with preventative medicines like monthly heartworm and flea and tick medicine (Budget monthly $20-$40 or $240-$480 for the year). Then, when your four-legged friend is a bit older, you’ll need to spay or neuter him or her ($20-$300). A lot of vets run specials or discounted clinics on these services throughout the year, so ask your vet about the timing of these discounts. If you can time it right, this could save a lot of money for you without miminizing the care to your pet at all.

New Pet Cost Breakdown

ONE-TIME COSTEXPENSE TYPE
$25 – $500Adoption Fee
$50 – $150New Pet Supplies
$50 – $300First-Year Vaccinations
$20 – $300Spay or Neuter Procedure
$145 – $1450TOTAL ONE-TIME COST

Monthly and Annual Costs of a Dog or Cat

Food: $20 – $50 per month

Yep, your pet will still be chowing down after year one. Adult food is often cheaper than specialized food for puppies or kittens, so you could see a savings in this department. It’s best to still budget about the same ($20-$50 a month, $240-$600) as an adult pet could eat more than his younger self, erasing any budget gains.

Annual Vaccinations/Vet Costs: $100 –$350 per year

our pet will likely need at least one trip to the vet a year for its annual vaccinations. And, you might find yourself there more than that if your pet gets sick or injured. Now that your pet (most likely) has an established vet (or when you are there for initial vaccines), talk to him or her about what annual vaccines will cost, and talk through what sick visits or injury treatment costs will look like. Each vet will be different, but each should be able to give a clear picture of what you should budget yearly after year one to care for your pet ($100-$350).

Grooming: $50-$100 per month

Depending on how fluffy your fluffy friend gets, you might need regular grooming once year two begins. This could run you anywhere from $50-$100 every 6-8 weeks (or longer if you can stand a shaggy pet!) ($400-$1200).

Boarding or Pet Sitting Costs: $10 – $25 per night of travel

Year two and beyond might include some travel, meaning you’d need to either hire someone to come look after your pet or board your pet while you travel. Plan on anywhere from $10-$25 a night for the duration of your trip.

Pet Deposits or Pet Fees: $100 – $500 per month

Moving with a pet includes deposits you would not otherwise incur. If you move and are renting, most every place will have nonrefundable pet deposits or cleaning fees. And some places do not allow pets at all. Consider bulking up your savings to account for extra deposit fees you’ll have to pay whenever you move ($100-$500).

Ongoing Pet Costs Breakdown

MONTHLY COSTEXPENSE TYPE
$20 – $50Pet Food
$50 – $100Grooming
$100 – $500Pet Fee (for renters)
$170 – $650TOTAL MONTHLY COST

Other Pet Costs Breakdown

ANNUAL COSTEXPENSE TYPE
$100 – $350Annual Vaccinations/Vet Costs
$100 – $250Boarding or Pet Sitter (10 nights per year)
$200 – $600TOTAL ANNUAL COST

How to Save Money on Pet Care

As you can see, pet care expenses can add up. As long as you plan ahead and make a budget, you can own a pet without adding extra financial stress. There are also smart ways to trim your pet costs to give you a little extra wiggle room.

Buy Pet Food in Bulk

Look at buying your pet food needs at a bulk supply store. If you can store several months of food at a time, you’ll benefit from the savings over time. The initial cost will be more, which will negatively impact that month’s budget. But, you can remove that cost from subsequent months as well. Also, investigate pet food delivery services. Many offer initial discounts and then provide discounts on items that are set up to auto-deliver as you need them. You’ll never have to worry about being without the supplies you need, and you’ll save a little each month.

Be careful that you don’t over buy though, since you’ll be on auto-delivery and might forget the items are coming (and forget that money is coming out of your account!).

Consider Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is like health care for your pet. The ASPCA estimates that pet owners will incur at least one large, emergency vet bill during the duration of a pet’s life. This means you might unexpectedly find yourself with a $2,000-4,000 bill for your pet because emergency services had to be performed. Pet insurance could help you save dramatically on this bill, as well as annual visits, vaccinations and other medical expenses. If your budget doesn’t have a lot of extra room for emergency costs, you might consider pet insurance to help you prepare. Or, work to set aside additional money into your emergency fund so that you’re better prepared for pet emergencies.