If you’ve ever owned a pet, you probably already know this.
Pets are EXPENSIVE.
In addition to the costs of adopting or buying a pet, pet owners are also responsible for monthly costs and emergency expenses.
Read on for a cost breakdown of pet ownership and how to fit these costs into your budget.
What Does It Cost to Bring Your New Pet Home?
Purchase Price or Adoption Fee
The first cost of your new pet is determined by how you get them.
If you’re planning to buy your new pet from a store breeder, you can expect to pay up to $3,500 for a dog or up to $1,200 for a kitten.
The price you pay depends on the breed, sex, and quality of the pet.
If a breed is in high demand or your pet is purebred, you can expect to pay more.
On the other hand, adoption can cost significantly less.
On average, adopting a dog from a shelter can range between $100 and $300, and adopting a cat can range from $50 to $150.
If you’re looking to save on adoption fees, shelters often run discounts on their adoption fees at different times of the year.
As soon as you bring your new pet home, you can expect to cover a few medical expenses.
At their first vet appointment, you can expect to pay about $1,000 to get your new pet examined, microchipped, and spayed or neutered, on top of any necessary flea and heartworm treatments and vaccinations.
If you adopted, your pet may already have been fixed and microchipped, so you may be able to save that cost if your shelter has already covered the big expenses.
If your pet is a cat, you don’t have to worry about training.
However, if you are the new proud owner of a dog, training is important.
If you have experience training dogs, the do-it-yourself route can save you money.
If you’re not experienced, it may be worth spending the money on having a professional train your dog.
Working with an experienced trainer can help your dog train faster and better, and the trainer can provide you with information and training specific to your dog.
Training your dog can prevent unwanted behaviors and save you money in the long run.
The costs of behavior issues like nipping, jumping, bathroom issues, aggression, and running away may cost you more than training in the long run.
Your new pet will need quite a few basics before they can be comfortable in their new home.
For your new dog, you’ll need bowls for food and water, a collar, a harness or leash, a bed, a crate, and toys for stimulation.
Depending on your state, you may need a dog license as well.
For your new cat, you’ll need bowls for food and water, a litter box, a carrier, and toys for stimulation.
Depending on your home, your pet, and your lifestyle, your additional costs could be big or small.
For your cat, a small scratching post can cost under $25, but a multi-level cat tree condo can cost closer to $80.
A simple litter box can cost less than $5, or a self-cleaning electric litter box may cost over $100.
If you have a dog and don’t want to be out in the yard with them all of the time, you may need to consider the cost of a fenced-in yard.
Fencing in a yard with standard materials averages around $1,800, and adding an electric fence averages around $1,200, depending on the size of your yard.
As always, evaluate your budget and determine which extras fit your needs and your lifestyle.
What Are Your Pet’s Monthly Costs?
When it comes to food, you have to pick what fits your pet’s needs and your budget.
If your pet has special dietary needs, buying food that works with them will help save you money in the long run.
Check with your vet for the type of food that is best for your vet.
If your pet doesn’t need a specific type of food, ask about options that are you in your budget.
Grooming can help keep your pet disease free, increase sociability, prevent and resolve hair and skin issues, and decrease dental disease, on top of the great benefit of your pet looking and smelling great.
Pets with long hair, especially long-haired dogs, will need grooming more frequently than short-haired pets.
The average cost for full-service grooming can range from $30-90, depending on breed, size, temperament, and whether you go to a local shop or hire a mobile dog groomer.
Your pet will have regular medical expenses, so it is crucial to find a veterinarian that fits your budget.
Keep in mind that both cost and quality vary by veterinarian, so check in with your pet owner friends to see who they like for both factors.
Your pet will need routine annual visits, dental care, vaccinations, flea and heartworm treatments, and preventative medications, so make sure you’re comfortable with your veterinarian and what they cost on an annual basis.
Also, if your pet has any chronic medical conditions, you’ll have to factor those into your monthly budget.
Extra monthly costs will pop up depending on your pet, your home, and your lifestyle.
One of the biggest expenses that renters don’t consider is an extra pet security deposit or monthly fee.
Make sure you check your lease and understand what this cost looks like before you bring your pet home!
Where Does Your Pet Fit In Your Budget?
It’s easy to see that your pet is going to cost you quite a bit over time.
A cat or dog is expected to cost between $8,000 and $15,000 over their lifetime.
Unless you have that hanging around in a “New Pet” sinking fund, let’s see how you can build these costs into your budget over time.
In Your New Pet Sinking Fund
If you need a quick review on sinking funds, check out my Level Up Guide to Sinking Funds.
If you’re planning on a new pet, having a “New Pet” sinking fund is a good idea!
Using the amounts above, add up a total expected cost for your new pet.
Set a date that you intend to adopt your new pet.
Divide the total expected costs by the number of pay periods between today and that date.
Then start building a plan to save that amount monthly to reach your new pet goal on time!
In Your Monthly Budget
Once you’ve brought your new pet home, use the list above to add up your expected monthly costs.
Add this line to your budget and keep an eye on it for the next few months.
Remember that your pet’s needs may flux as your pet gets older, you evaluate this part of your budget every few months to make sure you’re still staying in budget.
In Your Annual Pet Sinking Fund
Using the amounts above, add up a total expected annual cost for your new pet’s medical costs, including an annual check routine annual visits, dental care, vaccinations, flea and heartworm treatments, and preventative medications.
Set a date that you expect to have your annual check up.
Divide the total expected costs by the number of pay periods between today and that date.
Then start building a plan to save that amount monthly to reach your annual goal on time!
In Your Emergency Fund
While it would be great if your budget covered 100% of your pet’s expenses, there is always a chance of running into an emergency, so you need to be prepared.
An emergency vet visit can cost almost $400 just for the veterinarian visit, and pet owners can often find themselves $2,000 to $4,000 in debt after a surgical emergency.
Instead of letting your budget take a hit for an emergency, focus on building up your emergency fund to protect your finances in case of emergency.
If you never run into a pet emergency, your emergency fund is in place to help you with any other emergencies you encounter and help you stay on budget to care for your pet.
What About Pet Insurance?
How Pet Insurance Works
Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance, where you pay a monthly premium to the insurance plan.
When you make a claim, you have to meet a “per incident” or “per year” deductible before you’ll see a reimbursement.
After you meet the deductible, you may be required to pay a co-pay on every claim.
The Fine Print
Sounds simple enough, right?
Unfortunately, there is a lot of fine print with pet insurance.
If your pet has a pre-existing or hereditary medical condition, they may not be covered by a particular plan.
Also, pet insurance may only cover a certain part of certain procedure, if they cover anything at all.
This often means little or no benefit for dental care.
There are also maximum incident, annual, and lifetime payouts that the insurance company will pay out, so if you have high expenses for one visit, year, or pet, you may find yourself footing a big part of the bill.
Types of Insurance
There are a few types of pet insurance, each with their own level of coverage and cost.
For complete coverage, a plan with routine healthcare and emergency cover will have a high premium but cover almost all of your expenses.
Standard, “middle-of-the-road” coverage provides coverage for illness or injury, plus emergency and catastrophic events. Because this coverage doesn’t include routine care, it’s less expensive and more widely available than a complete coverage plan.
Emergency or catastrophic coverage is the most affordable, but only covers infrequent events. If you’re on the fence about getting pet insurance, this may be the ideal place to start.
How Do I Pick?
To determine if pet insurance is best for you, consider three important factors:
- Your budget. How much can you afford to pay monthly on pet insurance?
- Your pet’s health. Does your pet have a medical condition? If so, you will want to consider a more comprehensive coverage- but also keeping an eye on small print for pre-existing conditions.
- Your pet’s breed. Your pet may be more likely to inherit specific conditions depending on their breed. If you expect these conditions to arise in the future, buying into insurance may save you money in the long run.
If you’ve reviewed your options and pet insurance doesn’t seem like the right fit for you, consider putting your expected monthly premium into a pet-specific emergency fund.
Are you planning on bringing a new pet home soon? Or are you working through budgeting for your current fur baby? Is there anything I left out? Would you like to see me supplement this with tips to save money on caring for your pet?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Thank you! Loved your post.
This article is very true and I think more people should read this especially as your dog gets older. I see so much people getting rid of older dogs because of emergency costs rising. This is a true life commitment!
Absolutely! I get so frustrated when I see people rehoming pets after a few months or when they get older. When you bring a pet into your home, you’re responsible to them for their entire life- and their lives aren’t short! I just hope this post helps someone make that decision wisely.
Pets really can get so expensive. It’s one of the reason why I think I won’t take pets again 🙁 But the biggest reason is that I’m too busy. I love animals though ^^
It can definitely be hard to have pets when they don’t fit your budget or your schedule. I always recommend volunteering at animal shelters or fostering pets if you need an alternative that fits your life!
This post is very true, don’t regret having our dog for a second but he is expensive
Same! I LOVE my pets, but they have been expensive- especially in emergencies. I wouldn’t give them up for a second, but I am planning a budget for them as they age.
This is true. We had an envelope and budgeted for our dog for a year before we got him. He is worth it, but if we were not prepared for the expenses, we would have struggled.
I bet your envelope budget helped a lot! That’s a really smart idea to start pet ownership off on a good foot.