The Cost of a New Pet

The Cost of a New Pet

Whether you want a companion for college or want to do something special for your children, a new cat or dog is a big commitment. Along with lifestyle and home considerations, you’ll need to budget for all the costs associated with owning a pet, including supplies and veterinary care.

Initial Expenses

Costs start with the actual price of a cat or dog. The average adoption fee for cats is $80 and $160 for dogs. If you choose to adopt from a breeder or luxury pet store, it could cost thousands.

Your new pet will also need a bed, food, treats, food and water bowls, grooming tools, and toys. Dogs also require a collar and leash, while cats would benefit from scratching posts or a cat tree. Even if you purchase low-cost supplies, this can easily cost an additional $50, at minimum.

Finally, your pet will need to be checked out by a veterinarian. The initial vet visit can cost $200 or more for vaccines, diagnostic tests, and the exam, with services like microchipping, spaying, or neutering as an additional cost.

All told, you can expect to spend over $1,000 in the first year of pet ownership, according to the ASPCA.

Ongoing Expenses

After initial costs, there will be periodic and continuing expenses, too. For example, pet food, treats, cat litter, bedding, brushes, toys, and collars must be replaced when your pet outgrows them, or they become worn. Dogs also require nail trimming and grooming.

Medical expenses are another ongoing cost. Dogs and cats should have yearly wellness exams. Appointment costs vary by veterinary clinic and animal species but prepare to spend at least $100 for each appointment.

Other Costs to Consider

  • Housing - You may be subject to a pet deposit, higher monthly rent, and a move-out cleaning fee if you rent. If you’re the homeowner, be aware that pets may damage flooring or furniture, increasing maintenance and repair costs.
  • Travel - Traveling without your pet means potentially paying hundreds for boarding or pet-sitting services. If you take your pet, hotel, and transportation costs will increase, and it may be difficult to find pet-friendly accommodations.
  • Training - Obedience classes for dogs are a helpful resource, but they can be costly and require several sessions.
  • Walking - If you work long hours, you may need to hire a dog walker to ensure your pet stays active and accident-free, increasing pet costs.
  • Pet Insurance - Similar to health insurance, pet insurance covers veterinary expenses for illness, injury, or even wellness exams, depending on your policy. Monthly premiums, as well as your out-of-pocket deductible, must be accounted for.

Home Environment

Is your home set up to handle the pet you want? For example, dogs often need a sizeable yard or nearby park to play and do their business in, ideally one that's fenced in. Cats are safest in homes that don't have multiple gaps or openings leading to outside, such as uncovered air vents or areas being remodeled. If you rent, you'll also need permission from your landlord before getting a new pet.

Family Considerations 

Unless you live alone, you should consider how other members of your household might be affected by pets:

  • If someone in the household is allergic to pet hair or dander, some pet species, including cats and dogs, should be avoided. Even "hypoallergenic" breeds can aggravate allergies. Animals without fur – like fish or exotic pets – are best suited to households with allergies.
  • If there are children in your household, adopt a pet you know will do well with them, and teach your children how to interact appropriately and safely with pets. Young animals can be raised to be gentle with children, although cats might still scratch when bothered. If you want an adult animal, look for one whose history with kids is known, such as those fostered or raised around children.
  • Animals, especially cats, can run underneath your feet or lie in the middle of the floor, posing a concern for those with mobility limitations (like seniors). In these households, pets that don't have free rein are best, such as hamsters, birds, or fish. 

A Lifelong Commitment

While pets can be fantastic additions to homes, they're also a lifelong commitment. You'll be responsible for their health and happiness for as long as they live, which can be well over 10 years for some cats and dogs. So before you start shopping for a new pet, knowing that your budget, home, and family can meet its needs is crucial.