Can You Afford a New Pet? Here’s the Cost Breakdown of Pet Ownership

by Kaitlyn Ranze

Also, the cuddles.

Anthrozoology is the study of the interaction between humans and other animals. Controlled research in this discipline has proved that owning a pet can:

  • Buffer stress by decreasing levels of cortisol
  • Improve cardiovascular health by lowering heart rate and blood pressure
  • Give social support and boost mood

You can’t put a price on that. Or can you? Our best friends come at a pretty hefty price, as it turns out.

According to APPA’s new pet owner survey, pet ownership in the U.S. increased to an all time high in 2020 at 70% of households. Are you prepared for the long-term price tag of pet ownership?

Here’s a breakdown of the costs for pet ownership

Owning a pet can bring joy to many people’s lives and be a great addition to the family. However, owning a pet has its costs, in both various expenses in the short term, as well as in the long run.

Lifetime cost of owning a pet

National estimates vary widely when it comes to spending on animals. The American Kennel Association cites a University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine study, which estimates the average lifetime cost of dog ownership to be $23,410. In a typical year, the average pet owner spends between $500 and $1,000 for a dog and more than $600 for a cat.

General costs over your pet’s lifetime (food, toys, routine vet visits, etc.

Whether it is just through the adorable puppy or kitty phase, there are several expenses to take into account when it comes to owning a pet.

Getting the pet: Adopting versus shopping

Cons of shopping for a pet

There’s been a lot of traction with the “Adopt, Don’t Shop” campaign with good reason. Here are some of the pitfalls of shopping for a pet versus adopting one.

  • Buying a pure breed pet can easily cost $500 to $2000 or more while adoption costs range from $0to $200.
  • Many pets are already spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped.
  • Adopted pets are sometimes fully trained
  • The social/moral hazard of supporting puppy mills

Pros of shopping for a pet

You can find a breed that meets your needs.

Why breeds matter:

In particular, dogs were bred for different tasks. The hilariously shaped Dachshund (wiener dog) was bred to be kept low to the ground for tracking, while their length was great for hunting in burrows for badgers. Why does this matter? These breeds also have different personality traits that may fit your lifestyle better. Bulldogs have historically less energy while retrievers are great with families. If you’re talking about a permanent member of your family, it may be worth the investment to find the right fit.

Do breeds matter with cats?

It can. Some well known breeds such as Abyssinian are known for being athletic and alert, but not known for wanting to sit on laps. Meanwhile, Persian cats are people pleasers and well-suited for staying indoors.

Anticipating vet fees in pet ownership

This comes as no surprise but animals require regular trips to the veterinarian. According to a dog owner should expect to visit their veterinarian twice a year, and expect to spend between $200 and $300, which accounts for about 8% of the annual expenses in owning a dog.

While on average, routine annual veterinary care might cost between $200 to $400 for dogs and $90 to $200 for cats, unplanned events such as accidents, injuries, or unanticipated ailments can cost a variable amount more.

Wellness Pet Food

Regular or fixed vet expenses

Vaccinations$60-80 annually
Flea Control$40 (shampoo) – $150-200 (pill)
Heartworm Preventative$400 annually ($15 a month)
Per The Simple Dollar

Emergencies happen

As in healthcare for humans, emergency treatment is another expense that can quickly run upwards of and beyond $1,000. You can try sticking to treatment during regular office hours, but anticipate these expenses with an emergency fund.

Other ways to save on vet expenses

Get a quote from your vet and reach out to other pet pharmacy providers, like 1800-Pet-Meds or Walmart Pet RX for medications.

Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is a type of pet coverage that helps pet owners manage the cost of veterinary care. It can help pet owners save money on routine and emergency pet medical treatment, including cancer treatments, surgeries, x-rays, hospitalization and more.

There are many pet insurance providers to choose from, and each offers different plans with different coverage levels and premiums. It’s important to read the fine print and understand what is and isn’t covered before purchasing a policy.

Generally, pet insurance policies cover routine care, such as vaccinations, check-ups and flea/tick/heartworm prevention, but they may also cover more expensive treatments for illnesses or injuries. Many pet insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. We can’t emphasize this enough: it’s important to read the policy carefully before enrolling.

Premiums for pet insurance policies vary depending on the pet’s age, breed and coverage level. It’s important to shop around and compare rates before purchasing a policy.

(As with health insurance for people, pet coverage does not replace pet wellness care. It’s important to have pet insurance in place, but pet owners should also work with their veterinarian to keep pets healthy.)

Cost of feeding your pet

This typically cost for pet food ranges from $20 to $60 per month ($250 to $700 per year) according to Spruce Pets.

Long-Term versus Short-Term Expenses

While pet food prices inflated as much as 11% during 2021, you should definitely anticipate the long-term needs changing for your pet.

In the long term, there are some expenses that owners must be aware of which are not incurred in the short term. When the pet becomes senior and requires different, more expensive foods than in its earlier years, that is one long term expense to consider.

Additionally, pets often need particular medicines to help them with various ailments, such as diet-related diseases. Even if these are not needed for the furry friend’s entire life, they can be used in some cases to prolong its healthy years while it is still young.


Keeping your dog presentable can get costly, depending on the needs of your pet’s coat. Dog owners will have to fund regular trips to the groomer, which can cost between $10 and $75 every few weeks to months months.

According to these are the average prices to expect for grooming.

Full Service (small dogs)$40
Full Service (large dogs)$75
Nail trim + buffing$15
Nail trim$10
Data per The Home Guide

The cost of entertaining your pet

Play is fun, but affording to play – well, that can get expensive. Another factor that pet owners will have to keep in mind is how much they are willing to spend on their pet’s luxuries, and what the cost will be if they don’t invest.

Don’t undervalue the importance of play in your pet’s well-being.

Active play helps keep your [pet]’s heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves overall balance and coordination. Mental health. Games with rules force your pet to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.


This expense varies widely depending on the type of playthings the animals prefers, as well as how many it requires.

The cost of not playing with your pet?

Out of frustration, boredom, or anxiety, pets have been known to claw carpet and damage property.

Cost of training your pet

Finally, there is the matter of training, which can be extremely expensive unless you’re Cesar. According to, group dog training classes cost $30 to $50 per session, while private training costs $45 to $120 per hour.

Other training costs to consider:

Are you crate training? You’ll need a crate.

Do you plan on walking your pet? You’ll need a leash.

Will your pet need a litter box? You’ll need a one-time investment in the box and regular litter for investment.

Keeping the pet off your furniture? You may want to purchase a bed as an alternative.

Miscellaneous costs of pet ownership

Boarding when you travel$25-150 a night
Dog Walkers$19-29 for a single walk
Startup Supplies like bowls, collars, and tags$50-300
Pet Fees (Apartments)$200 to $500 deposit, $10-100 monthly
Data per The Home Guide

How to deal with the costs of owning a pet

Save for your new pet with’s Auto-Save an FDIC insured savings account.


It can be difficult anticipating every pet expense, but you can minimize the surprises by budgeting for the routine costs such food and treats, grooming, and annual veterinary care.

Track expenses

Don’t let your excitement for Fluffy blow your budget. Track your expenses regularly and make sure you’re aware how your feeling isn’t out of line with how you’re spending.

Save for the startup costs

Certain fees like adoption versus buying a particular breed, vaccinations, and pet basics like leashes, collars, and food, and bowls you can anticipate. Be financially prepared before diving into pet ownership by saving in advance.

In a perfect world, pet ownership wouldn’t be tied to finances. Instead, it should be about what is best for their family. With proper planning, solid money management, and a little luck you can provide for your own pet and live a long and happy life together.


Get it on Google Play button links to At Work on the Google store on android.
Get it on Apple Store button links to At Work on the Apple Store.
More Stories
Humane technology is an important value for Nav.It, a financial wellness app.
Privacy and Technology: Message from a Fintech Founder
%d bloggers like this: