What Getting a Pet Will Cost You

Cheryl Lock
Posted

We love pets, but the playing field changes once there’s a little kid at home asking (nay, begging) for a cute creature to call her own.

62% of U.S. households—72.9 million homes—have a pet, according to the 2011-2012 American Pet Product Association’s National Pet Owners Survey.

All the more reason your kid will want one. (“But, Mom! Brian just got an awesome turtle!”)

First, if you’re having trouble deciding whether a pet makes sense for you, take our “Can You Afford A Pet?” quiz. Once you’ve made the decision to start a menagerie, be sure to consider all your options—and how much each animal is likely to cost you.

Here’s what you can expect to spend per year on a dog, cat, fish, bird, small animal or reptile, based on what pet owners spent in 2011.

DogCatFreshwater FishBirdSmall Animal*Reptile
Toys$43$21$25$98N/AN/A
Food$254$220$26$99$81$78
Groomer/Grooming aids (including test kits for fish)$73$34$15$37$27N/A
Kennel/boarding$274$166N/AN/AN/AN/A
Other supplies$66$69$32N/A$80$78
Routine vet visits$248$219N/A$117$147$97
Travel expenses$78$48N/AN/AN/AN/A
Vitamins$95$43N/A$24N/AN/A
Total:$1131$820$98$375$335$253
* Includes chinchilla, ferret, gerbil, guinea pig, hamster, Hermit crab, mouse/rat, pot-bellied pig, prairie dog and rabbits.

These numbers include the basics like food, but some pets will come with more additional expenses than others (dog walkers, crates, pet insurance, etc.), especially when the unexpected crops up.

Discussion of the Day

Have you ever had an unexpected medical expense for your pet? What did you do?Share Here

That said, having a pet comes down to a lot more than numbers, and it can be a great way to help teach your kid about responsibility: to learn to love, be loved and know that her actions affect others.

Are you (or did you) get your child a pet? Why or why not?

And Here’s How to Save on ‘Em …

For 13 ways to save money on your new dog, read this.

No matter what kind of pet you have, here’s how to lower your expenses.

When picking your pooch, you might want to shy away from the 11 most expensive dog breeds.

  • Icbleu

    No idea where you got your numbers, but caring for a bird can be very costly, depending on the bird. Even a bird as small as Conure or a Budgie can cost quite a bit more in toys and boarding costs for proper care.

  • Stoones2001

    Clearly the author of this post doesn’t live anywhere near NYC.  Food alone costs about $1/lb here (so depending on the size of your dog you could be spending upwards of $10/week) and vet visits are AT LEAST $300 for just normal check-ups, not including any vaccinations, etc. you might need.  If your dog needs CCL surgery (which is fairly common for all-size dogs) you’re looking at close to $4,000 just for the surgery not including any follow-ups or meds.

    If you do live in NYC your best bet is to get a Costco membership for dog food or go over the bridge and buy it in Jersey or if you can swing it, PA.  You’ll save yourself TONS of $$ (even counting gas).

    • George Timothy Coggins

      300 for a checkup???? remind me to stay an hour away in Pennsylvania where i only have to pay 50 a visit. granted its a cat which im sure makes a different but considering the poverty i see both around me and times where i myself dont eat for sometimes 3 days at a time so my cat can i have no idea where any of the people on this site are finding money. most people in my area especially if single cant even afford an apartment that costs 400$ a month without all of the utilities included and this isnt even the poor section of the local area. has anyone here ever had to walk through the low income residential part of Patterson NJ for instance? if you think it sounds bad where i live you havent any idea at all. even with the description of this area i’ve given, places like Patterson would be like a real life horror story. try to imagine Ethiopia mixed with gutted out high rises and burnt out buildings that even children live in and  90%  of people living there all addicted to crack or heroin doing it right out in the open with law enforcement unable to do anything about it. i just hope the next person who wakes up and reads this while drinking some sort of expensive coffee in even a 12 room house with a yard realizes that even just going out and dealing with buying the cheapest generic coffee and taking those few dollars not spent on decadence could do if added up over a year to a family trying to actually get by in such an area would do. i mean you could say they should move or manage their finances better but for the vast majority this is not even a remotely realistic idea for multiple reasons based on way too many variables to include here. seriously i appreciate what sites like this have to offer but they do a great job of turning a blind eye to the reality that the majority of Americans more and more in number are facing every passing moment.  

    • George Timothy Coggins

      300 for a checkup???? remind me to stay an hour away in Pennsylvania where i only have to pay 50 a visit. granted its a cat which im sure makes a different but considering the poverty i see both around me and times where i myself dont eat for sometimes 3 days at a time so my cat can i have no idea where any of the people on this site are finding money. most people in my area especially if single cant even afford an apartment that costs 400$ a month without all of the utilities included and this isnt even the poor section of the local area. has anyone here ever had to walk through the low income residential part of Patterson NJ for instance? if you think it sounds bad where i live you havent any idea at all. even with the description of this area i’ve given, places like Patterson would be like a real life horror story. try to imagine Ethiopia mixed with gutted out high rises and burnt out buildings that even children live in and  90%  of people living there all addicted to crack or heroin doing it right out in the open with law enforcement unable to do anything about it. i just hope the next person who wakes up and reads this while drinking some sort of expensive coffee in even a 12 room house with a yard realizes that even just going out and dealing with buying the cheapest generic coffee and taking those few dollars not spent on decadence could do if added up over a year to a family trying to actually get by in such an area would do. i mean you could say they should move or manage their finances better but for the vast majority this is not even a remotely realistic idea for multiple reasons based on way too many variables to include here. seriously i appreciate what sites like this have to offer but they do a great job of turning a blind eye to the reality that the majority of Americans more and more in number are facing every passing moment.  

    • George Timothy Coggins

      300 for a checkup???? remind me to stay an hour away in Pennsylvania where i only have to pay 50 a visit. granted its a cat which im sure makes a different but considering the poverty i see both around me and times where i myself dont eat for sometimes 3 days at a time so my cat can i have no idea where any of the people on this site are finding money. most people in my area especially if single cant even afford an apartment that costs 400$ a month without all of the utilities included and this isnt even the poor section of the local area. has anyone here ever had to walk through the low income residential part of Patterson NJ for instance? if you think it sounds bad where i live you havent any idea at all. even with the description of this area i’ve given, places like Patterson would be like a real life horror story. try to imagine Ethiopia mixed with gutted out high rises and burnt out buildings that even children live in and  90%  of people living there all addicted to crack or heroin doing it right out in the open with law enforcement unable to do anything about it. i just hope the next person who wakes up and reads this while drinking some sort of expensive coffee in even a 12 room house with a yard realizes that even just going out and dealing with buying the cheapest generic coffee and taking those few dollars not spent on decadence could do if added up over a year to a family trying to actually get by in such an area would do. i mean you could say they should move or manage their finances better but for the vast majority this is not even a remotely realistic idea for multiple reasons based on way too many variables to include here. seriously i appreciate what sites like this have to offer but they do a great job of turning a blind eye to the reality that the majority of Americans more and more in number are facing every passing moment.  

  • http://mischievouskitty.blogspot.com Stephanie

    I *wish* food for my dog was only $254/year.  That might be the price for the crappy stuff that consists primarily of cornmeal. :-  Our dog is on a high-protein formula from Natural Balance, it runs us more like $600/year.  He’s an extremely active English pointer, so high-protein food supplemented by scrambled eggs, peanut butter, yogurt, etc. is the only way we can keep weight on him.

    I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, they’ll have plenty of furry “siblings.”  I always had pets growing up, and I feel lost without them.  It definitely teaches responsibility and I think it also helps develop a sense of empathy.  And supposedly children who grow up with pets are less prone to developing allergies, so there’s that, too. :-)  

    It’s definitely important to budget for the unexpected, though.  My husband and I dropped $500 on vet appointments for our dog during the past month.  He had his yearly check-up and vaccinations ($250), then he developed a skin infection and needed antibiotics ($130), THEN he had a seizure this past weekend so he needed blood work done to see if there was anything wrong ($120, but his blood work came back clean, looks like this was an isolated incident, thank goodness!).

    I’d say this list is fairly accurate overall though.  We have one dog, two rats, and two degus (small rodents, related to chinchillas), and we probably spend about $1800-2000 a year on them.  Sometimes I think about what it would be like to have that extra money back in our wallets each year, but all our pets are wonderful and really enrich our lives.  And we spoil them rotten.  Everybody wins. ;-)

  • Anonymous

    Something to do to save on food is look around the back of pet stores and such. A lot of times, when bags rip, they’ll just throw them away. We’ve gotten hundreds of pounds of name-brand, perfectly good dog-food that was just thrown out because the bag tore a little bit. Sort of like dumpster diving, but I mean, a free 50lb bag of dog food is a free 50lb bag of dog food. 

  • birdgirl

    Being in the pet business, specifically birds, I can tell this cost research is extremely off and bird keeping is much more expensive then stated.