Knowing the costs of owning a pet before adding one to your family is essential. Pet ownership can be expensive and also requires a significant long-term commitment that goes beyond financial considerations. Are you and your family ready for that responsibility? Here’s an overview of average annual costs based on ASPCA estimates1 and some lifestyle considerations not to overlook. Note that costs can vary significantly depending on the animal and where you live.
Costs of Owning a Pet
Dogs and cats are popular choices for many families, so this overview will focus primarily on their care, but other species may have additional needs. The average annual cost of dog ownership is about $1,400 per year over a dog’s 10 to 13-year average lifespan.2 Cat owners spend about $1,150 annually over 13 to 17 years.3 These estimates don’t include the extra costs some pets require. The following provides a breakdown of what that may look like.
Routine check-ups, vaccinations, and medications are essential for maintaining your pet's health and can contribute an average of $300 to $400 to your annual pet budget. Emergency vet care and treatments for chronic conditions can escalate health care pricing significantly.
Pet insurance is optional but can offset some health care costs. Average annual premiums are $348 for cats and $516 for dogs. However, like most insurance, the type and amount of coverage, the insured, and your location will determine your premiums. Check with your employer to see if your company offers pet insurance benefits.
Your pet’s size and dietary needs will determine food costs, but the annual average is $300 for dogs and $225 for cats. Quality food is often more expensive but can result in fewer health issues. Your pet could also have dietary needs that require pricier nourishment options. And don't forget the treats, supplements, and occasional indulgences you’ll want to give your furry friend.
Pet care may require a considerable amount of your time. If you work long hours, go out of town, or have other time constraints, you may need to rely on dog walkers, sitters, or boarding. Expect to pay $10 to $35 per walk for dog-walking services.4 Boarding services average $25 per night but can be considerably more depending on the luxury and attention you desire for your pet. In-home sitters can charge similar rates, depending on their services. Even if you have the time for an animal, will your family have the patience and space for a high-energy pet or be okay with the additional household chores they may create? Such care factors can be as important to consider as costs.
If you have a specific breed in mind, it’s helpful to research its additional costs and care requirements. For instance, some breeds of dogs and cats require a lot of exercise or attention. Some are prone to health problems or have specific grooming needs. If you rent, you’ll have pet deposits to consider, and pet ownership may limit your rental options for several years. If you own, some dog breeds may increase your homeowners insurance premiums.5
After crunching annual costs, also consider the initial costs. Adopting a pet is typically less expensive than buying but may limit your options. Some pets have initial healthcare needs, such as vaccines or neutering, and you’ll need supplies, such as a bed, collar, food bowls, and toys. The average initial cost of getting a dog is $1,030—and only $455 for a cat.
Should I Get a Pet?
Before plunging into pet ownership, ensure your family is prepared for its ongoing and unexpected costs and care requirements. Your new friend will provide your family joy and companionship, but it's your responsibility to provide them with a safe and healthy environment, which comes with a price tag.
1 ASPCA: Cutting Pet Care Costs
2 PetMD: How Long Do Dogs Live?
3 PetMD: How Long Do Cats Live?
4 HomeGuide: How Much Do Dog Walkers Charge?
5 Is Your Homeowners Insurance Dog-Friendly?
This material is being provided for educational and informational purposes only. D.A. Davidson & Co. is a registered broker-dealer and registered investment adviser that does not provide tax or legal advice. Information contained herein has been obtained by sources we consider reliable but is not guaranteed and we are not soliciting any action based upon it. Any opinions expressed are based on our interpretation of the data available to us at the time of the original article. These opinions are subject to change at any time without notice. Copyright D.A. Davidson & Co., 2023. All rights reserved. Member FINRA and SIPC.