What Is the True Cost of Owning a Dog or Cat?

by Spero Financial

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For many folks, their pets are basically members of the family. Statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association reveal that nearly 70% – or 90.5 million – households in the US have pets. Of those, 48 million have at least one dog, while 32 million have at least one cat. With numbers like that, it’s safe to say that we enjoy having our furry, four-legged companion around, and research shows that pet ownership provides benefits beyond companionship. According to information from Ohio State University, owning a pet can help lower stress, blood pressure, and heart rate. It can also give social support, help owners stay in shape, and even prevent some sicknesses.

It’s no wonder why people enjoy having pets, so the thoughts of getting a new, fuzzy family member can sometimes cloud the reality that pets aren’t cheap. Getting a new dog or cat can incur substantial costs, especially in the first year when incurring a flurry of upfront expenses. While pets are worth the price for many owners, it is important to consider exactly how much money it will take to provide proper care. Below, we’ve broken down the costs of owning a dog or a cat so that you can be fully prepared the next time you welcome a new pet into your life.

How Much Does it Cost to Own a Dog?

Dogs are the most popular pet in the US, but how much does it cost to get a dog and maintain care throughout its life? Let’s take a closer look:

One Time Expenses

The first year of owning a dog will likely be the most expensive, as you’ll have to purchase many items for the first time. The good news is that once many of these expenses are out of the way, you won’t need to purchase them again.

  • Adoption fee: $0-$400
  • Spay/neuter: $100-$250
  • Initial vet exam: $60-$150
  • Food and water bowls: $5-$30
  • Collar, tags, and leash: $20-$80
  • Bed and crate: $70-$300
  • Carrier: $40-$100

            Total one-time expenses: $295-$1,310

The total cost of these one-time expenses varies and will depend on where you adopt your dog, their breed, their size, their age when you adopt them, etc. Puppies typically cost more, as they need to be spayed or neutered and get multiple vaccination boosters. Dogs that come from breeders also tend to be more expensive than those from pet stores or animal shelters.

Annual Expenses

After those one-time expenses, annual expenses are those that you can count on paying each year to care for your pup:

  • Food: $120-600
  • Check-ups and vaccines: $60-$300
  • Heartworm and flea medication: $80-$400
  • Treats: $20-$50
  • Toys: $30-$80

            Total annual expenses: $310-$1,430

How Much Does it Cost to Own a Cat?

Cats may be the second-most popular pet in the US, but they typically require less care and attention. In addition to making them perfect companions for busy lifestyles, their independence usually results in a lower cost of ownership.

One Time Expenses

Much like a dog, cats will be more expensive in the first year as you incur many of these one-time expenses:

  • Adoption fee: $0-$200
  • Spay/neuter: $100-$175
  • Initial vet exam: $120-$150
  • Collar and tags: $15-$70
  • Litter box: $10-$100
  • Bed: $20-$80
  • Food and water bowls: $5-$25
  • Carrier: $15-$50

            Total one-time expenses: $285-$750

Annual Expenses

            The annual expenses for your new cat will look something like this:

  • Food: $100-$500
  • Check-ups and vaccines: $60-500
  • Flea and tick medication: $60-$150
  • Treats: $15-$30
  • Toys: $10-$60

            Total annual expenses: $245-$1,240

The totals above represent the planned, expected expenses of owning a dog or cat. But, just like with anything else in life, unexpected costs can arise. Your furry friend could get sick, injured, or eat something that they aren’t supposed to and run up a costly bet bill. Unfortunately, these things happen, so it’s always a good idea to have some money set aside so that you can plan for unexpected expenses.

If you’ve been thinking about adopting a new pet, it’s always helpful to estimate what your total cost will be. When you’re prepared to purchase everything your new furry friend needs to be happy and healthy, the expenses can be less jarring, and you’ll be able to spend more time enjoying the newest member of your family!


This material is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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