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How to Budget for Owning Pets

Pet adoptions have increased by 15% in the past year, with 26,000 more adoptions than in 2019.  Welcoming a new furry friend into your family is exciting, but it comes with many costs. From flea medications and vet visits to leashes and water bowls, the price of owning a new pet can add up and catch many owners off-guard.

To give you a realistic idea of budgeting and planning, we’ll focus on the costs of owning a cat or dog. Costs may fluctuate depending on the pet you choose, but the following breakdown will give you an idea of how to calculate those costs.

A Breakdown of Common Costs with Pet Ownership

It may come as a shock, but the lifetime cost of owning a dog, for example, is $23,410. Here are the most common costs broken down:

  • Adoption Fees. They can range between $20 and $100 at a shelter or well into the thousands if you’re taking home a purebred cat or dog.

  • Pet Food. Depending on the quality of food you choose - or if the food is catered to a pet’s specific dietary needs - food can cost anywhere from $20 to $60 per month ($250 to $700 per year).

  • Vet Visits. An average vet visit with routine tests or vaccines can cost about $150 per visit. In the first year of owning a young cat or dog, you should expect to visit the vet about three or four times.

  • Pet Accessories. From toys and treats to leashes and crates, an average amount of accessories will usually cost around $150 to $350.

  • Emergencies. Each medical emergency averages between $500 and $1,000 and could cost you up to $5,000 if surgery is needed.

How to Plan for Pet Expenses

The best way to financially plan for a pet is to make sure you understand the financial commitment you’ll be taking on.

  • Don’t underestimate or low-ball costs - instead, assume things will be on the higher end of the spectrum and plan accordingly.

  • Pet owners could also set up a separate savings account specifically for pet-related costs, especially if it’s your first pet. With separate savings, you can easily set aside money for extra treats, more toys, and pet boarding – or more serious costs like medical emergencies.

How to Lessen Costs with Pet Ownership

  • Adopt, Don’t Shop. Adopting animals from shelters instead of breeders or stores can save you a significant amount on upfront costs. In fact, several local shelters often have weekends where all adoptions are free.

  • Consider Pet Insurance. Insurance can help mitigate medical costs should your pet need ongoing care for a medical condition. The average cost of pet insurance for dogs is $48 per month and $29 per month for cats, with various options to suit your family’s needs.

  • Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards. If you know you’ll incur lots of expenses for a new pet, you may want to consider placing all those charges on a credit card that offers cash-back rewards. Be sure to pay off the balance regularly, of course, and then reap those rewards to save cash.

The better prepared you are for owning a pet, the more likely it will be a positive experience. Keep these cost and budget tips handy for when you decide it’s time to welcome a pet into your home.