What’s the Real Cost of Owning a Dog or Cat?

dog and cat

When you welcome a new pet into your home, it instantly becomes a member of your family. That’s why it’s important to understand the true cost of taking care of a pet before bringing one home. If you’re longing for a furry friend, consider both the up-front and long-term costs of owning a dog or cat and build a budget around all the potential costs to determine if you can afford one. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

Up-Front Costs of Owning a Dog vs a Cat

Things to Consider:

  1. Breeder or Shelter

The first thing to decide on is whether you will be purchasing from a private owner/breeder or adopting from a shelter. Either way, there will be an initial cost to consider.

  1. Size and Weight

The size and weight of your pet will also play a factor in the cost of ownership. Be sure to find out about how large your pet will get once they are full-grown.

First Year Costs of Owning a Dog or Cat

Beyond the initial costs, several other expenses will come up within the first year of pet ownership. According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), here’s an estimate of what you can expect for up-front pet costs. Since dogs and cats are the most common types of pets in America, we’ll compare the cost of ownership for dogs vs cats.

Average Up-Front Costs for Dogs vs Cats

Private Owner/Breeder: Depending on the breed, between $100-$2,500

Adoption: Varies, but cheaper than private owners in most cases

Spaying/Neutering: Dog: $200 | Cat: $145

Medical Exam: Dog: $70 | Cat: $130

Collar/Leash: Dog: $30 | Cat: $10

Litter Box: Cat: $25

Bed: Dog: $95 | Cat: $25

Carrying Crate: Dog: $60 | Cat: $40

Training: Dog: $110

The first year cost of owning a dog is on average $1,455. The first year cost of owning a cat is approximately $1,105. Knowing these costs beforehand can help you determine if a new pet is a good fit for you and your budget.

Long-Term Costs of Owning a Dog vs a Cat

Becoming a pet owner is a long-term commitment and requires long-term financial care and planning. In addition to the initial costs of pet ownership, you should also consider the expenses that will come up throughout your pet’s life. Here are annual costs to expect provided by the ASPCA.

Average Annual Cost of Ownership for Dogs vs Cats

Food: Dog: $500 | Cat: $300

Medical Exams: Dog: $375 | Cat: $250

Litter: Cat: $200

Toys & Treats: Dog: $55 | Cat: $25

License: Dog: $15

Grooming: Dog: $145 | Cat: $45

Boarding: Dog: $95 | Cat: $80

Pet Health Insurance: Dog: $225 | Cat: $175

Miscellaneous: Dog: $45 | Cat: $30

Based on these numbers, you should expect to budget at least $1,455 per year for each dog you own and $1,105 for each cat.

Building a Pet Budget

Now that you know the annual costs of owning a dog or cat, it’s time to build your pet budget. Factor in all the pet expenses above and figure out how they’ll fit into your current spending budget. Use our free online Household Cash Flow Tracker to figure out where your money goes every month. It will help you determine if you have enough extra cash flow to cover the costs of caring for a pet. It can also help you identify where you can make spending cuts if necessary.

Taking care of a pet is a big financial responsibility. Knowing what to expect beforehand will help ensure your new pet gets the care it deserves.

May is National Pet Month. Share a favorite photo of your pet on our Facebook page for a chance to win a Petco gift card! Plus, we’ll donate $10 to the Dumb Friends League for every entry (up to $1,500).