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Deciding to adopt a pet is an exciting moment! Pets are great companions and can bring life to a lonely apartment or a fun new challenge for a young family. But while pet ownership is a great milestone, it’s important to be prepared up front. Pets require love and attention, but beyond that there are also a variety of costs to pet ownership. The ASPCA estimates that the first year of owning a cat or dog will cost well over $1,000, with the annual cost of owning a dog or cat in the following years at several hundred dollars. Before you start perusing your local animal shelter for the perfect companion, make sure you’re entering this commitment with clear expectations of any financial obligations. You owe it to your savings account– but more importantly, you owe it to your new pet.

One-Time Costs of Pet Ownership

There’s a reason the first-year cost of owning a pet is estimated at 5 times the annual cost. In addition to adoption fees and medical costs, if you’re a first-time pet owner you’ll also have to buy some initial supplies. Costs may vary depending on where you live, as well as the age, size, and breed of your pet, so while there are great ASPCA estimates on typical costs, it’s important to do specific research to help prepare. Costs that apply to both cats and dogs include:

  • Adoption/purchase fees
  • Spaying/neutering
  • First veterinary exam
  • First-year vaccinations
  • Microchipping
  • Flea/tick treatment
  • Food and water dishes
  • Toys, brushes, and other personal care items


Costs typically specific to dogs include:

  • Collar and leash
  • Behavioral training
  • Crate
  • Fence or outdoor enclosure
  • Heartworm test
  • Training pads for housebreaking


Costs typically specific to cats include:

  • Litter box
  • Cat carrier
  • Scratching post
  • FIV testing


Choosing to adopt rather than purchase a pet from a pet store or a breeder can be a great way to save money. Typically, many upfront costs are covered as part of the adoption fee, including having your animal spayed or neutered, providing their first vaccinations for rabies and distemper, as well as flea and tick treatments. While not always included, they may also include microchipping services, as well as a discounted or completely free visits to veterinary partners.

Annual Costs of Owning a Cat or Dog

Past the upfront costs, there are annual costs to consider for the full lifespan of your pet. Make sure in addition to saving for upfront costs that you’re working ongoing care into your monthly and yearly budget. Costs include:

  • Food
  • Additional rent if you live in an apartment
  • Annual veterinary costs
  • Boarding or pet care
  • Grooming
  • Pet insurance
  • Toys and treats
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Litter (cats only)


On its own, the average cost of visiting the vet is around $50 for the examination, depending on where you live. There are also additional costs for any vaccinations or care beyond the main examination, such as a dental cleaning. Typically, the average cost of cat or dog vaccinations is only around $20, however your pet may have to have multiple vaccinations per visit. While there is a cost every time you go to the vet, like any doctor’s visit, regular preventative care could help you avoid more costly emergency treatments due to undiagnosed ailments.


Pet insurance has an annual cost, but it could pay off if your pet ever has to have an expensive medical procedure. Buying pet supplies in bulk might mean a heavy bag, but it could mean cost-savings and time-savings. And while you don’t want to skimp on pet supplies, many pet stores offer loyalty programs similar to a grocery store, so you can get a variety of discounts and savings over time.

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