Bringing Home a New Pet? Here Are the Costs to Expect.
Thinking about bringing home a new dog or cat? Over the past few years, more and more Americans have welcomed new pets into their homes. In 2020, 40% more pets were adopted than in 2019.1 It can be exciting to bring home a new pet; however, it’s important to understand the cost. Let’s look at what you can expect to pay, so you’re prepared for any costly surprises.
Initial pet costs
Their love is invaluable, but pets are far from free. If you purchase a pet from a reputable breeder or store, you can expect to pay $500 to $2,000 or more, depending on the breed. Meanwhile, dogs and cats adopted from shelters or rescues are more affordable—at about $50 to $200—including spaying or neutering.2
Once you decide on a pet, you’ll need to get it vaccinated, too. Initial vaccinations for a dog or cat can range from $50 to $150, depending on where you live. If they’re not already spayed or neutered, you may want to get this done at the same time. A spay or neuter can cost up to $200. But it’s a smart investment to prevent puppies or kittens in the future.2 According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), spaying and neutering an animal can also help prevent medical issues in the future. For example, spaying a female pet can help prevent uterine infections and breast tumors in 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. Meanwhile, neutering a male pet can help prevent testicular cancer and prostate issues.3
At the first veterinary visit, you may need to pay for medications, grooming services and dental care, too. When it’s all said and done, you’re looking at up to $2,000 just to bring your new best friend home. Plus, each year you’ll need to take your pet to the vet for well-visits and booster shots.
Annual vaccines, medicines and licensing
It’s important to keep up with your pet’s health and well-being, otherwise you’re risking health issues in the future. Most veterinarians recommend monthly wellness exams until a puppy is about 16 weeks old and then a regular vaccine schedule through the first year.4 When your puppy reaches adulthood at one year, you can expect an annual exam that’s about $50 to $400 each time. Dental care usually costs about the same amount.5
In addition to wellness visits, you should also factor in these yearly costs:5
- Vitamins: $100 a year
- Flea, tick and heartworm medicines: $20 per month ($480 a year)
- Licenses (for dogs): $10 to $20 a year6
A dog license proves your dog is safe and vaccinated and helps your local animal control understand how to handle your dog. Plus, it’s the law to get a license if you own a dog.5
Rental or HOA fees, and insurance costs
If you’re a renter, it’s important to check your lease before bringing home a new pet. If dogs or cats are allowed, most landlords require a deposit or fee. These costs can range from $200 to $500 for a one-time fee or $25 to $100 for monthly rent. It’s best to be honest with your landlord about your pet, and you may be able to negotiate if you’re a good tenant. Your landlord just wants to cover the costs of any damage. Keep in mind, birds, fish and reptiles may not require a fee, so it’s best to ask first.7
Own a condo? Check with your homeowners’ association (HOA) before buying or adopting. Some HOAs prohibit pets, charge fees or have rules to follow. For example, you’ll want to know your HOA’s guidelines for picking up animal waste, barking and the number of pets allowed. Otherwise, you could risk getting penalized and have to pay a hefty fine.8
Finally, the cost of your renters or home insurance may change if you have a pet. That’s because pets can lead to damage and insurance claims. Talk with an insurance professional about how your policy may change. Then add these costs into your budget.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), spaying and neutering an animal can also help prevent medical issues in the future.
Boarding and pet care
Next time you plan a vacation, you should also budget for boarding, a pet hotel or an in-home pet sitter. These costs can vary, depending on the type of pet care you choose.9
This is a standard option that gives your dog or cat all its basic needs —food, water, a bed and a few brief walks. Some kennels offer the option for your pet to play with others that are being boarded. The average cost is $20 to $50 a night.
You’re on vacation and so is your pet. At an average cost of $50 to $200 a night, pet hotels include all the bells and whistles, including obstacle courses, recreational areas, fancy beds and more.
In-home pet sitters:
The cost depends on the sitter you choose. Keep in mind, a pet sitter gives your animal personalized care in their own home environment.
If you work outside of the home, you may need to invest in a daytime pet sitter, pet daycare or a dog walker. These daily costs range from $20 to $40 or more per day, depending on how much hands-on care your pet needs. Fortunately, if you work from home and can care for your pet throughout the day, you may be able to skip these extra costs.10
Some pets need professional grooming more than others. For example, poodles and bichon frises are wonderful dogs, but require regular brushing and clipping or they get painful snags in their coats.11 That said, all pets, including cats, can benefit from regular grooming services, even if it’s just a light wash.
Some pet owners do their own grooming, but it’s time consuming. A professional groomer costs $30 to $500 per visit and can include brushing, de-matting, shampooing, nail-trimming, teeth-brushing and much more. Depending on your pet, it may be worth it to hire a professional.12
Unexpected medical care
Whether it’s a skin condition or an ear infection, most pets have health issues from time to time—and it can be costly. The average cost of an unexpected veterinary visit is $800 to $1,500.13 If your pet is diagnosed with something more serious, it can cost thousands of dollars in care.
The top health issues most dogs face are:14
- Skin conditions
- Digestive issues
- Ear infections
Meanwhile, cats are more likely to face:
- Urinary tract infections
- Foreign body obstructions
For many people, pets are family members. Just like you would for a new baby, you’ll want to plan ahead and be prepared to take care of your pet. Just make sure you’re fully aware of what costs to anticipate.
Insurance for pets
Fortunately, pet owners who purchase insurance are usually reimbursed for their vet bills. Just think—one major vet bill can add up to all your premiums over time. The cost of insurance can vary, depending on your pet and the coverage you choose. Depending on the insurer, you may be able to pay monthly or annually.15 In general, though, insurance for cats costs less than dogs. You can also choose accident-only coverage versus accident and illness insurance.16
Your best bet is to contact an insurance professional to walk you through your pet insurance options and recommend the best coverage for your furry friend. Purchasing pet insurance now can save you significantly in the long run, especially if your pet is young and faces an unexpected health issue.
Pet food, treats and supplies
You’ll also need to add a few extra supplies to your shopping list. According to one source, these are the items you’ll need for your pet and their average yearly cost:2
Pet food and treats:
$200 to $700 a year (special dietary options can cost more)
$25 to $50 a year
Leashes and collars:
$20 to $50
$50 to $200
If budget is an issue, you can also look for used leashes and collars, and even dog houses.
Training classes and programs
Your pet will be less destructive and happier if you can successfully complete a training program. This includes cats. For example, most cats can be trained to use a litter box, avoid scratching furniture and stop biting.17 Dogs, on the other hand, can be trained in everything from basic recall, to tricks, to off-leash hiking and even for specific jobs, like law enforcement.18
The average cost of a puppy training class or resources is $25 to $300.2 If you’d like to enroll your dog in more specialized training, like an off-leash bootcamp or vocational program, however, it can cost thousands of dollars to complete.
The total cost of pet ownership
Depending on your pet and its health, you can pay as much as $1,500 to $9,000 a year or more.2 Pet ownership is a big investment to say the least, but for many people, it’s well worth it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, animals can lower our blood pressure, give us opportunities to exercise and even help us develop friendships with others.19
If you own a pet now, you probably can’t imagine your life without your furry friend. After all, sometimes benefits outweigh costs in ways that can never be measured.
- S. pet adoptions still strong as cats, dogs melt stress, Reuters, 2021.
- Costs of Owning a Dog, The Spruce, 2021.
- Spay/Neuter Your Pet, ASPCA, 2021.
- How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet? Rover.com, 2021.
- Pet Ownership Costs Guide for 2021, The Simple Dollar, 2020.
- 5 Reasons to Get Your Dog Licensed, Cesarsway.com, 2019.
- Pet Rent vs. Pet Deposits and Fees, Zillow.com, 2020.
- Can a Homeowners’ Association Kick Out My Pet? U.S. News and World Report, 2019.
- How Much Does Dog Boarding Cost? Rover.com, 2021.
- How Much Does Doggy Daycare Cost? Rover.com, 2021.
- 6 Dog Breeds That Require a Lot of Grooming, But Are Totally Worth It, American Kennel Club, 2015.
- Why It’s Worth Having Your Dog Groomed Professionally, American Kennel Club, 2021.
- Are you prepared for a pet emergency? Most Americans are not, CNBC, 2018.
- Top 10 Reasons Why Pets See a Veterinarian, Today’s Veterinary Practice, 2021.
- Do You Need Pet Insurance for Your Dog? American Kennel Club, 2020.
- How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost? Forbes Advisor, 2021.
- How to Train a Cat, Basepaws, 2019.
- Different Kinds of Dog Training, Cesarsway.com, 2015.
- About Pets and People, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019.