How Much Does a Pet Cost?

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Deciding if You Can Afford a Pet

Being a pet owner comes with more than companionship — you also have a financial responsibility to keep up with your pet’s needs. Before you commit to getting a furry friend, make sure you can afford a pet.

Take a look at these expenses and determine if you can budget for that new pup or purr-ball before filling out an adoption application.


The Cost of Pet Food

Your pet’s food expenses will vary depending on which animals you have, how many you have, and if they have any dietary restrictions or special needs. According to you’ll spend anywhere from $120 to $900 a year on feeding your dog. It depends on the size of your dog and any dietary restrictions. 

ASPCA estimates that $224 a year will be spent on cat food. Want to go full-on cat lady? Multiple that amount by your number of desired cats. The cost of food also depends on your feline’s dietary needs. For example, my cat has urinary issues, and her food runs me about $50/month, or $600 a year. Make sure you have enough cushion in your pet budget to afford costly surprises like that!

If you want any extras for your pet like treats or whole foods for your pet’s diet, then be sure you budget for even more. Try shopping for your pet’s food online at places like where you can get bulk product discounted.

How Much to Budget For Vet Bills

First-year veterinarian bills are undoubtedly where you’ll see the most impact to your bank account at once. To spay or neuter your dog, it costs roughly $200, and that doesn’t include any extras that you can get at the time of visit such as nail trim, microchip, or flea treatment. To bring your kitty into the vet for its spay or neuter, you’re looking at around $145, also not including any added services. If we’re honest, we never get out of the vet office for less than $200 it seems.

Shots are also a costly expense when it comes to your animals. In the first year of their life, it generally costs around $100 to treat your dog or cat for things like heartworm, distemper, and rabies. If you want a healthy, happy fur-baby, you can’t skip these things either.

If your pet becomes sick or injured, you’ll also need to fork over cash for those vet visits. The fee for being seen by a veterinarian can range from $100 to $300. Not to mention, if your pet needs surgery or medication you could be looking at thousands of dollars in bills. Are you situated to cover those expenses if they unexpectedly arise?

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Necessary Items for Pet Care

Cats don’t normally use the bathroom outside like dogs, so they need indoor accommodations. You’ll need a litter box, cat litter, and a scooper at the bare minimum. You can get litter boxes and scoopers for cheap, but the litter itself can add up. A 25-gallon container of litter runs from $15 to $35 each, and if you have one to two cats, you should expect to buy 2 of those each month.

You should also budget for scratching posts to try to limit the damage to furniture. Those range from a few dollars to around $60 depending on the model you choose.

Your dog may not require as many indoor necessities but they might need a crate, a collar and leash, and a fenced-in yard. These items can add up quickly so if you don’t have much expendable cash, you’ll need to budget and save for these expenses.

Cost of Pet Grooming

Not all pets require grooming, but there are some breeds of animals that make it difficult not to. For example, a Bichon has human-like hair that grows into the eyes if it’s not trimmed frequently. Your dogs’ nails will also grow out and cause marks to appear on your floor or it can actually harm their paws. Grooming will cost you between $30 and $90 every 3-4 weeks.

I ashamed to admit, we have a mobile groomer come to the house for our extremely fluffy cat, and it costs $135 every four months! That’s more than I spend on the upkeep of my own hair.

Pet Insurance Costs

To curb the cost of pet expenses, you might want to consider a pet insurance policy. You’ll pay a monthly premium depending on the type of pet and age but in return, your vet bills are covered after paying an additional deductible. A deductible is an agreed-upon, out-of-pocket amount that you pay before insurance covers the rest. This is usually $500 – $1000 depending on your policy. If your pet requires surgery and the total is $3,500, then you’ll pay you $500 deductible and insurance will cover the remaining $3,000.

The Bottom Line

What’s it going to cost for the first year of pet ownership?

PetFoodVetGroomingOther ItemsTotal

Tails Wag With a Price Tag

It’s tough not to get caught up in the happiness and excitement that a new pet can bring to your life but think about the cost of owning one before making a commitment.

If you’re considering getting your first pet, talk to a family member or friend and get an idea of how much they spend each month. Budget for food, the vet, grooming, and other necessary items. So, can you afford a pet? If you can buy these things without putting stress on your bank account then the answer is yes!

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