BBB Tip: Calculate the Cost of Owning a Pet

Owning a pet can bring your family much joy, but taking care of a dog, cat, or other animal comes with significant costs too. Unfortunately, this year, many pet owners have found themselves in a heartbreaking situation, forced to give up their pets for financial reasons.

If you are thinking about taking home an adorable furry friend, it’s wise to check your budget first. According to the American Kennel Club, dog owners can expect to spend about $15,000 over the lifetime of their pet. Here are the costs you should consider before getting a new dog, cat, bird, or other pet.  

How to calculate the cost of a pet 

  • Consider the initial investment. Any new pet comes with substantial expenses. For example, if you purchase a puppy from a breeder, you can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $2000 or more. Purebred cats can be costly too. If you don’t have your heart set on a specific breed, you can cut costs by adopting a mixed breed pet from a shelter, but there will still be a modest expense, usually in the $50 to $200 range. After the purchase cost, factor in your pet’s first vet visits, which may include vaccines and boosters, deworming, and spaying or neutering. The cost for these items and treatments can quickly go over $1,000. You can save money by adopting an older pet that is up to date on vaccines and has already been spayed or neutered. Finally, don’t forget about supplies. You’ll need your pet’s food, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, toys, beds, crates, etc. The average consumer spends about $425 on initial expenses when it comes to supplies. Include these items in your budget as part of the initial cost of buying or adopting a pet.
  • Factor in food. Standard food for dogs or cats will cost you a few hundred dollars a year. However, if your pet develops a food allergy, expect to pay more for a prescription diet.
  • Budget for veterinary visits. All pets need an annual exam and vaccinations. Some pets will need annual checks for parasites and deworming too. These visits average about $160 for cats and $225 for dogs. Of course, the price for a yearly vet visit will vary depending on where you live, so be sure to check with your local veterinarians. Also, choose a veterinarian you trust before you get a pet. Keep in mind that your pet may also need routine care along the way, such as dental cleanings.
  • Know the cost of preventative medical care. Most dogs and cats need flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Budget for the cost of preventive medical care when planning for a pet. Purchasing preventative medications can save you a big bill on medical care down the road.
  • Think about grooming. If your pet needs regular grooming, such as nail trims, baths, and haircuts, find out how much you can expect to spend by calling local groomers and asking about pricing. Ask them how often you should plan to have your specific breed of animal groomed.
  • Plan for kennel boarding. If you are a frequent traveler and don’t plan on taking your pet with you, another expense you should factor in is boarding costs. According to a national pet owners survey, dog owners spent an average of $228 on kennel boarding and cat owners spent an average of $78. If you don’t like the idea of boarding your pet in a kennel, you’ll need to find out how much it costs to hire a pet sitter. If you plan on traveling with your pet, factor in additional travel expenses like pet fees at your hotel or the cost to fly with your pet.
  • Don’t forget the extras. Plan for miscellaneous expenses, such as licenses, toys, treats, obedience classes, replacing damaged furniture, and more. Check out this list for more unexpected expenses of owning a pet.
  • Have an emergency fund. Even if you have a healthy pet, know that emergencies can arise. It’s wise to keep an extra $1,000 to $2,000 in an emergency fund specifically for surprise vet bills, which can be costly if emergency treatments or surgery are needed.
  • Consider pet insurance. Pet insurance can cover unexpected vet bills and sometimes wellness visits, but plans and coverage vary greatly. Do your research to find out if there is a pet insurance plan that could work well for you and your pet.


For more information

Review these budgeting tips as you create a financial plan to care for your pet. Find a pet sitter and or groomer near you.
Avoid getting scammed when purchasing a pet and pet supplies by reading about common pet scams. If you spot a pet scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker and help build consumer awareness about the danger.

Information courtesy of the Better Business Bureau