How Much Do Pets Really Cost?

Some people get a pet without much consideration of how much they will end up spending on pet accessories, vet bills, grooming and upkeep, and food for their pet. While it is easy to point out that getting a pet can be a time and monetary commitment, it is less easy to really identify the investment in numbers. However, when you are able to budget for a pet, it can really help you understand how much to set aside each month for the type of pet you are looking for.

Plumed BasiliskEach pet costs a different amount of money, and of course individual pet owners can choose to skimp on some vet bills or not buy as many toys, while others will get their pet emergency surgery, pet ambulances, and spend premium amounts on pet health insurance, grooming costs, and organic toys. Dogs with more health concerns will end up costing owners more, while low maintenance lizards will still require minimal care and purchasing cage equipment, but will cost much less than a dog. So, each pet cost will really vary depending on the pet itself, its quality of life, its breed, its overall health profile, and the owner’s choices.

Canadian Golden RetrieverLet’s start examining costs with one of the most popular pets around the world and especially in America – the dog. Many dog owners get in over their heads, and if you take a visit to the pound or humane society in your area, you will find a host of dogs that have been abandoned, likely because their owner could no longer afford to care for them. Dogs are one of the most expensive pets you can buy, and get more and more costly as they increase in size per breed. Large dogs, like Great Danes, will eat much more food, and may have a host of extra health problems that come with their breed such as heart failure, short lifespan, and allergies, that interested dog owners might not realize before they purchase their puppy. Every breed has its problems, and it is important to educate yourself about potential health concerns for the breed you are interested in owning.

For larger mature dogs, you should budget upwards of 1,000 dollars a year for the expense, and you will want to have at least 100 dollars a month set aside for each dog you own, for food and emergency medical expenses. For smaller dogs, it will likely still cost you around 600-800 dollars a year to own and take care of your pet. However, you may not always pay that much, depending on their health, so feeding them better food (which will be expensive up front) and making sure they get enough exercise will reduce your vet costs in the long run.

Sleepy CatAnother popular pet is the household cat. Cats often seem like they would be less expensive than dogs, but once you factor in all of their health problems for various breeds, scratching posts, spaying and neutering, littler, deodorizers, toys, and cleaning expenses (cats often spill litter everywhere, drag dead animals into the house, and scratch up furniture). Unless you get an independent cat who hunts most of its food and lives outside, then expect to pay around 500-700 dollars a year for your cat, and budget at least 70 dollars a month for extra medical expenses.

For all pets, including rodents, reptiles, and exotic animals, you will need to add at least a few hundred dollars to the first year of their life for extra vaccines, cage purchases, and food supplies. Once you get past the first year, the annual cost will stay pretty steady excepting the occurrence of emergency medical expenses. However, there is really no pet except a Chia pet that will guarantee a low cost over its lifetime. Pet owners should ideally be financially solvent, and be able to prepare for the unexpected costs that come with pet ownership.

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Sy Greenberg is a valued contributor to CosmoBC's Cute Animals blog.

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