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Consumer Handbook: Calculate the Cost of Owning a Pet

Portrait of a cute dog in sunglasses in the shape of a dollar. Golden retriever sits on a yellow background with the image of money.
Irina Kashaeva/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Portrait of a cute dog in sunglasses in the shape of a dollar. Golden retriever sits on a yellow background with the image of money.

Owning a pet can bring your family much joy, but taking care of a dog, cat, or other animal comes with significant costs too. Unfortunately, this year, many pet owners have found themselves in a heartbreaking situation, forced to give up their pets for financial reasons.

If you are thinking about taking home an adorable furry friend, it’s wise to check your budget first. According to the American Kennel Club, dog owners can expect to spend about $15,000 over the lifetime of their pet.

Here are the costs you should consider before getting a new dog, cat, bird, or other pet. Consider the initial investment. Any new pet comes with substantial expenses. For example, if you purchase a puppy from a breeder, you can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $2,000 or more. If you don’t have your heart set on a specific breed, you can cut costs by adopting a mixed breed pet from a shelter, but there will still be a modest expense, usually in the $50 to $200 range.

After the purchase cost, factor in your pet’s first vet visits, which may include vaccines and boosters, deworming, and spaying or neutering. The cost for these items and treatments can quickly go over $1,000. You can save money by adopting an older pet that is up to date on vaccines and has already been spayed or neutered.

Finally, don’t forget about supplies. You’ll need your pet's food, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, toys, beds, crates, etc. The average consumer spends about $425 on initial expenses when it comes to supplies. Include these items in your budget as part of the initial cost of buying or adopting a pet. Factor in food. Standard food for dogs or cats will cost you a few hundred dollars a year. However, if your pet develops a food allergy, expect to pay more for a prescription diet.

Cape Girardeau native Whitney Quick is the former Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau, MO. She joined the Cape Chamber as Vice President of Programs and Leadership Development in May 2023. Quick is a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and Southeast Missouri University where she majored in public relations.