The Cost of Pet Ownership

Pet ownership medium

Becoming a pet owner can be one of the most rewarding decisions you make in your life. It can also be one of the most expensive. The financial responsibilities of owning a pet last long after you pay the initial adoption or purchasing fee. When determining if a pet is right for you consider the following financial responsibilities along with the daily responsibilities of feeding, watering and exercise.


A year of dog ownership can cost as little as $800, depending on the size of the dog, assuming it is in good health and no medical emergencies arise. If you have to build a fence around your yard to keep the dog from wandering, build or purchase a dog house, use professional training services to correct behavior or have an emergency vet bill you can expect the costs to reach up to $10,000 or more.


Annual costs for a cat can be as low as $375 for a healthy cat. Cat accessories, such as window seats and the various toys and activity centers are expensive. “Cat condos” can cost over $100 and professional groomers to get out “mats” of hair can cost $50 a visit. If you choose to pamper your cat with a lavish lifestyle, prefer to feed top-of-the-line foods and/or have unexpected vet bills that total can reach over $5,000 in just one year.

Smaller and Larger Animals

Being a pet owner of a smaller animal may have annual costs you weren’t expecting. Rabbits can use up to $885 of your annual budget, guinea pigs $645 and smaller mammals up to $330. If you’re considering a large animal, such as a horse, the average cost per year is $11,000.

Saving Money

Once you’ve decided your budget is in check and the new companion is right for you or your family, there are some cost saving techniques you can use to help keep expenses to a minimum.

  • Buy in bulk to get the best price on food
  • Make your own pet toys and treats
  • Sign up for rewards programs at your local pet store
  • Pet insurance can save you a fortune on unexpected vet bills
  • Spay or neuter your pet to avoid the additional costs of more pets
  • Keep your pet healthy with good food, exercise and a safe environment to avoid additional vet bills

Adopting a pet is a big decision. Make sure you, your family and your budget are on board with the idea. After all, during the lifespan of the pet, it is possible you will pay as much as you would have for a car!