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The essentials

  • Expect upfront expenses — These include everything from adoption/breeder fees to health care, essential supplies, and more.
  • Develop a budget to ease stress — A clear expectation of how much your furry family member costs will help with financial planning.
  • Spend now to save later — Invest in preventative care to reduce the long-term costs associated with pet ownership.

Bringing home a new puppy or kitten is exciting. But without proper planning, the latest addition to your family can become a source of financial stress. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way! Create a pet budget to avoid unpleasant surprises for you and the newest addition to your family.

Budget for initial pet costs

Dog Cat
Pet store or breeder $500-$2,500+ $400-$5,000+
Spay/neuter exam & operation $65-$300+ $35-$300+
Veterinary care $600 avg $600 avg
Pet supplies (bowls, toys, etc.) $130 avg $120 avg
Apartment pet deposit (for renters) varies varies
Total upfront cost $1,295-$3,530 $1,155-$6,020

For some prospective owners, the upfront, one-time cost of getting a pet can be prohibitively expensive — particularly with puppies and kittens. It’s a good idea to clearly understand the initial expenses of a pet, regardless of whether you’re adopting or buying.

Plan for recurring pet costs

Pet food is the most common expense new pet owners anticipate, but other items need to be part of a pet budget.

  • Pet food. Cat and dog owners should expect to pay between $10 and $50 or more every month. This depends on the pet’s size, age, breed, and other health factors and concerns.
  • Medications. Many prescription medications come in 3, 6, and 12 month supplies. While the price varies depending on the medication, pet owners should budget about $30 a month for routine prevention. Consult with your veterinarian for the cost of specific medications related to treatments.
  • Waste disposal. For these expenses, cat owners should expect to pay $14 to $30 a month, while dog owners who need puppy pads should budget around $20. In both cases, miscellaneous items like waste bags may add an extra $10 to the budget.
  • Miscellaneous. It’s important to be realistic and budget for other monthly expenses. Pet owners who want subscription boxes should expect to add about $30 to their monthly pet budget. Also, training can cost around $50 per hour, while obedience schools and “doggie boot camp” programs range from $200 to over $1,000 per week.

Estimated monthly costs

Dog Cat
Food $10-$50 $10-$50
Medications ~$30 ~$30
Waste disposal ~$30 $25-$40
Housing fees $10-$100 ~$10
Miscellaneous costs $30-$200 $30-$200
Monthly total: $80-$280 $75-$130
Pet insurance varies varies
Annual costs (est) $1,200-$1,560 $1,140-$1,800

Remember that rental and homeowners association fees vary — this list is just a guideline. Consult with your landlord or HOA about any yearly or monthly pet fees.

Other pet costs

Aside from monthly expenses and one-time pet costs, other expenses come up with pet ownership. Vaccines, checkups, treatments, and other expenses are often left out of a budget, leading to unpleasant surprises when it comes to veterinary care or a big purchase. These expenses may be infrequent but shouldn’t be forgotten when creating a pet budget.

Frequency Cost
Preventative medications Every six months $130-$190
Core vaccinations Every three years $90-$360
Other vaccinations Annually or every three years $90-$360
Routine check-ups Annually $45-$300
Boarding* Annually $125-$250

* The average range for boarding fees is based on a five-night stay annually for a healthy pet. Those with special medical needs will likely experience a higher rate.

Most preventative medications are purchased monthly or annually. It’s also important to note that not all vaccinations are required. Most aren’t, but vets highly recommend core vaccinations. The rabies vaccination is a core vaccination required by law in many areas.

Budget for the unexpected

In some cases, costs that don’t fit neatly into the pet budget may come up. These might be specific to the situation. For example, if you travel with your dog, you may need to pay a hotel fee. Other miscellaneous expenses include pet furniture, clothing, food delivery fees, and grooming.

Lastly, consider adding your pets to your will to care for them. Name a willing caregiver and then update your legal documents to reflect that change. Don’t forget to include any monetary considerations for your pet’s ongoing care.

Budget for pet emergencies

It’s inevitable with pet ownership that you’ll visit the vet at some point for an emergency. For cat owners, this may come as something like a urinary tract infection. UTIs can quickly become an emergency that requires immediate attention. For pets that venture outdoors, poison and unfortunate encounters with wildlife can also result in an emergency vet visit.

The average emergency vet visit costs about $100 and can quickly jump to $2,000 or more. Pet insurance can help with many things, but saving between $1,000 and $2,000 for an emergency visit is wise.

Tips for pet budgeting

There are a few things you can do to make budgeting for a dog or cat a painless experience, and improve your life as a pet parent.

  • Figure out monthly expenses — Create a list of purchases you expect every month. Consider dividing it into categories like necessities and bonus purchases. Choose brands your vet likes or that you feel good about, and explore different options, like types of dog food.
  • Set aside money every month — Determine how much you can afford to save with each paycheck. Some pet owners prefer to set aside a large amount at once, while others budget to set aside a little at a time.
  • Consider pet insurance — Many pet parents invest in pet insurance to offset future costs and help you save on routine care, medications, and vaccinations.
  • Interview pet sitters and boarders — Establish a relationship with a boarding facility or pet sitter. Not everyone needs these services, but for those who do, it’s good to find one that works with you. It’s also a good idea to have a few options.
  • Be proactive with preventative care — Investing in preventative care can significantly reduce more costly expenses later. Examples include urinary health treats and cat fountains to reduce the risk of UTIs or routine teeth cleaning for your dog to help prevent tooth extractions.
  • Research programs in your area — Sometimes, things happen that no amount of budgeting can prepare you for. Knowing what kind of programs and aid might be available in your area may provide peace of mind in an emergency.

Budget for pets before adopting

Bringing a new pet home is a big day. However, facing the reality that you have to pay for that pet’s care and are responsible for their wellbeing can be overwhelming.  A pet budget creates a road map for financially responsible pet ownership. Ultimately, here’s what you can expect to pay monthly for your new furry friend.

  • Budgeting for a dog. Dog owners should expect to spend an average of $164 monthly to cover typical costs, occasional expenses, and emergencies.
  • Budgeting for a cat. Cat parents should budget about $184 monthly for regular purchases, as well as infrequent and unforeseen ones.

Let’s face it: creating a budget isn’t the most thrilling part of getting a pet. However, it’s one of the most important things you’ll do.  After all, becoming a pet parent should be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, not a stressful one.

Frequently asked questions

How much should you budget for a pet?

A pet budget depends on the type of pet and what you will need. On average, pet owners pay less than $50 a month for a cat or dog — or a few hundred, depending on their needs and whether they stash additional money in a pet savings account.

How much will I spend on a pet per month?

Budgeting for a cat or dog can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 or more every month, depending on breed, size, and care requirements.

How do you budget for a new pet?

When budgeting for a new pet, the main consideration is where you’ll get your newest family member. Think about what exams, vaccines, and medications that are typically included. Know what is included in your fee to determine how much to save.

What is a pet that is good for a strict budget?

For those who aren’t comfortable with the expense of a cat or dog, fish make excellent companions and may require only a small and inexpensive freshwater aquarium. For those who have their heart set on something furry, guinea pigs and rabbits are also typically affordable choices.