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How much does it cost to own a pet?

The truth about cats and dogs (and birds and fish)

The actual cost of owning a pet is about $1455 per year for a dog and $1105 for a cat.

Still looking to add a pet to the family? Great! Then let’s look at what you can spend and how to plan for the unexpected. In fact, if you have kids, this might be the perfect time to have the talk with them about budgeting for a pet.

The upfront cost of owning a pet is just a part of the conversation. The real cost is not in the selection of a puppy or a kitten, it’s the long-term cost of bringing a new pet into your household.

The well-being of our animals means giving them plenty of our time, money, and energy to make sure they live well.

Before heading to a local animal shelter or breeder, put your dollars and sense to work and find out, “Can you afford a pet?” If the cost is too high, we can offer some low-cost (time and money) alternatives below.

Pug dog and orange cat

Set your yearly pet budget before you decide

When purchasing items for your new pet family member, ask yourself if this is a need or want! Toys keep your pet’s minds and bodies active, but they don’t need a whole basket full of high-priced items. Try a few at a time.

Budget for your time. Dogs and cats need your attention and care. How much time do you have to give? Kittens and puppies are high energy and demand playtime. As animals age, while their energy level goes down, they still need walks and your attention.

Do you have the time to devote to your new pet? What about afterschool activities, lessons, or your own play time? Is there room in your schedule for pet time?

Other pets you will love as much as a cat or dog

While every 2 in 5 people in America have a dog and 1 in every 3 people have a cat, that may not be the best fit for your family.

Low Maintenance Pets

With these pets, your time commitment will probably only be about 15 minutes a day for feeding and about an hour a week to clean tanks or cages. Since these animals aren't cuddly or affectionate, don’t count on snuggles!

  • Fish
  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Turtles

The average costs of a fish would be of $50 per year.

Medium Maintenance Pets

These pets require about 15 to 30 minutes a day for feeding and then weekly cage or box cleaning. Every animal’s personality is unique. This could mean that play time will last longer for some while others prefer to be more independent.

  • Small birds, like parakeets and canaries
  • Rabbits
  • Rodents, such as guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, mice, and rats

Average bird costs is $115 per year.

Plan for the unexpected costs of owning a pet

Don’t forget to plan for your pet’s unexpected expenses.

Operations or other accidents are not uncommon and can be very expensive when it comes to pets. As your pet gets older, trips to the vet can become more common. And having to give them medication can become the norm rather the exception.

Putting savings aside for your animal is important to make sure they receive the care they need and you don’t go broke!

Save time and stress while getting the whole family involved in caring for your new pet. Use a tool like the Pet Chore Chart to talk about responsibilities before your new addition joins the family. Begin assigning chores before little Buffy or Fluggles comes home.

Bottom line - our pets’ needs are important and they rely on us for their well-being. Finding the time, money, and resources to care for a pet is a big responsibility and should definitely be discussed beforehand. Once you’re done with your research and budgeting, if you’re still ready for a new fur friend, begin your search in a local shelter. There’s always a happy tail or nose ready to greet you.

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