Can You Afford a Pet? The Hidden Costs to Budget For

Can You Afford a Pet? The Hidden Costs to Budget For

Brittney Morgan
Sep 12, 2016

There's nothing quite like coming home to a happy dog or curling up on the couch with a purring kitten. The kind of unconditional love that comes with having pets is priceless, but that doesn't mean it comes without a cost. It's totally worth it, but having a new furry—or fishy, or feathery—friend around can be more expensive than you know, and it's something you need to prepare for.

Each pet is different—a reptile or a bird obviously won't have the same needs and expenses as a dog or a cat, for example—but they all still come with costs you may not even be thinking about. You'll have to research the specific costs associated with the products and services you want in regards to your desired pet, but in general, here's what you need to budget for.

The Breakdown:


Adopting a pet—no matter how big or how small—almost always comes with a fee. Whether you're adopting a dog from a rescue or buying a hamster from the pet store, there's going to be a cost associated with it, and depending on the type of pet you're getting, it can be next-to-nothing, or majorly expensive.


If you live in an apartment or don't own your home, you may actually be subject to fees from your landlord in order to keep a pet. Sometimes you'll have to pay an additional security deposit, and some apartments come with a specific pet fee for each animal you have in your home. Either way, check with your landlord or management company before you bring home a new cuddly companion.


The necessities vary depending on the type of pet you have, but this encompasses leashes, collars and ID tags, crates, carriers, aquariums, beds, litter boxes, and more. All of those things may seem like small purchases, but together, they add up.

Food and treats

You probably already know to factor in the cost of food and treats, but it's also important to note that this can get tricky—sometimes you'll learn a pet has specific dietary needs or restrictions that can't be met through basic food brands, meaning you might have to buy more expensive food than you initially planned for.


Animals need daily stimulation, whether it comes in the form of a squeaky toy or a hamster wheel, and depending on how quickly your pets go through their toys, you could be spending a lot more on your pet's recreational activities than you think.


Animals are just as good at making messes as they are at being cute, so you'll have to be prepared to clean up after them too. Potential costs include special cleaners for removing odors and stains, kitty litter, dog waste bags, aquarium filters, and more.


This really only applies to dogs, but training is an important part of integrating your new pup into your life. You'll need them to know basic commands and to make sure you can handle any bad behavior, so it's important to factor in the cost of training classes.


If you have a pet that requires daily exercise outside like a dog, along with a job that makes it difficult to get home in the middle of the day to take them out, you'll probably have to factor in the cost of a dog-walker or daycare facility.


Even if you have a pet that doesn't require a usual trip to the groomers, you'll still have to pay to groom most pets. Most pets need to be cleaned, some need to be brushed, others need regular nail clippings—regardless, it's a cost you need to consider.

Vet care

You'll need to take your pet for an initial visit to the vet to ensure they're in good health and up to date on any necessary vaccinations. You'll also need to factor in the costs of spaying/neutering your pet (if applicable) as well as regular vet visits which can help you prevent future health problems. There are also other normal vet needs you may not be thinking of—for example, some dogs will need regular teeth cleanings to stay healthy, even if you brush them regularly.


Vet bills can be expensive, so it might be worth it to get insurance for your pet. The monthly payments—no matter how low they may be—add up, but having insurance could also save you money in the long run much like health insurance does for us humans, so you'll have to decide if you think it's worth it for your pet.


Some pets require preventative medication to keep certain health issues from popping up, and others may wind up needing medication to help with new or existing conditions. Either way, it's something to consider when creating your pet budget.


Any time you plan to travel without your pet, you'll need to figure out accommodations for them, whether that means getting a friend to stop by and feed them, hiring a pet sitter, or boarding them at a facility. If you plan to travel with your pet, there may be other costs associated with that too, depending on how you're traveling and where you're staying.

Emergency fund

You never know when an emergency is going to come up, so you should have—and continue to actively add to—an emergency fund for your pets in case something happens. That way, if you need to bring them to the vet for something serious, you have the funds to take care of it.

The Estimates:


According to PetFinder, the annual cost of owning a dog can be anywhere from $766 to $10,350 during the first year, and an additional $526 to $9,352 for each subsequent year.


Each year, owning a cat could cost you anywhere between $310 a year and $1169 a year, according to Pet Education.


The initial cost to get a bird and purchase supplies for it can be anywhere between $300 and $1800, according to Pet Education.


According to Pet Place, depending on whether you own a snake, lizard or iguana, your pet could cost you about $190 to $450 annually.


As you can expect, fish are the least expensive pet, costing between $85 and $450 annually, according to Pet Place.


According to Kiplinger, the first year cost of owning a rabbit is around $1040, and for subsequent years, it's around $660.


Costs vary by animal, but hamsters generally cost around $260 a year, according to Kiplinger. For another example, with mice you'll likely spend about $100 for the initial supplies, as well as several hundred dollars a year on bedding, according to the Humane Society.

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