Pet Ownership Costs, Things to Budget for Before You Get a New Pet

Aug 13, 2021 | Pets & Vets

Pet Ownership Costs, Things to Budget for Before You Get a New Pet

If you’re considering welcoming a dog or cat into your life, they’ll warm your heart with sweet licks and snuggles and make you laugh with humorous antics! But if you’re a first-time pet owner (goldfish don’t count), you need to learn the truth about cats and dogs. And you won’t get this truth from the 1996 movie with that title, although t’s nearly as heartwarming and fluffy as a new kitty or puppy.

According to the ASPCA, due to rising costs, the first-year cost of dog or cat ownership can exceed $1,800. A recent survey found that most people underestimated the cost of bringing home a new furry friend. Before you consider welcoming a new puppy or kitty into your household, the number one question to ask yourself is: Can I afford to be a pet owner?

How Much Does it Cost to Buy a Dog or Cat?

The question of how much a puppy costs varies based on several factors. If you adopt a dog from a shelter, it costs far less than buying a pup from a pet store or a breeder. If you’re considering buying a dog or cat at a pet store, most experts advise against this because these pets are at higher risk of mistreatment and health problems. In the long run, this can cost you a significant amount of money in vet bills.

It’s possible to pay nothing if you know somebody giving away puppies or kittens from a litter, which is more likely if they’re mixed breeds. Moreover, if you aren’t particular, free cats come in many varieties and one might even wander onto your porch and never leave, especially if you feed it. Of course, adopting a cat in this manner comes with risks because feral cats may have more health problems from outdoor living and it takes some work to acclimate them to humans.

Average costs: On average, Americans spend $126 every month on their pets. The average monthly cost for cats is $93 versus $140 for dogs. Of course, many cat owners have more than one furry feline in their home, which can add to these costs. And larger breed dogs cost more than smaller varieties just due to food costs alone.

 Initial Purchase Price

Shelter adoption: Dogs: $25 to $660; Cats: $25 to $200—the adoption fee may include initial veterinary exams, spay/neuter costs, and heartworm treatment

Breeders: Dogs: $500 to $25,000+ (Average: $500 to $2,000); Cats: $500 to $25,000+; (Average: $500 and $1,000)

Some specialty breeds can cost thousands of dollars or more, especially if you’re looking for a pedigreed pet with bloodlines that qualify them to compete in dog or cat shows. For example, pure English Bulldogs can cost as much as $9,000, while Bengal cats can cost $1,000 to $25,000!

How Much Does a Vet Cost?

There isn’t a definitive answer to, how much does a vet trip cost? As with human doctors, the cost can vary greatly depending on where you live and overhead for a particular clinic. Still, it helps to know the average cost for various standard services and emergency medical care so you aren’t unprepared for the potentially-high cost of vet bills.

  • On average, routine vet visits cost dog owners $257 per year and cat owners $182 annually, while surgical vet visits can cost $474 and $245 for dogs and cats, respectively
  • A Bankrate survey found that only 39% of Americans had adequate savings to cover a $1,000 medical pet emergency

Initial Vet Expenses

  • Spaying or neutering: Dogs: $160; Cats: $145
  • Initial medical exam: Dogs: $70; Cats: $130
  • Preventative medical (e.g. heartworm, ticks): $50 to $100
  • Microchip: $50

What You Need to Know About Blood Work

A complete blood count (CBC) and a chemistry profile are completely noninvasive tests that tell vets a great deal about the general health of pets. Blood tests are especially useful for monitoring chronic conditions (e.g. kidney and liver disease, diabetes) to see if it has improved or worsened. As in humans, the CBC test measures red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Testing FAQs

How much does a full blood panel cost in dogs?

A complete blood profile test may cost $180 for a senior dog with severe arthritis that needs blood work every 6 to 8 months. The cost varies greatly depending on the type of clinic—it could be as little as $30 or as high as $250.

How much does blood work cost for a cat?

A CBC and chemistry profile together cost $150 to $250, on average.

What is a chemistry panel?

A basic chemistry panel can uncover specific enzymes that are red flags. Testing may reveal early (or advanced) kidney disease, liver conditions, or gallbladder problems. This test also analyzes important electrolytes (e.g. sodium, potassium, and chloride) and blood glucose levels.

How can you determine if a cat has polycystic kidney disease (PKD)?

DNA testing is the only way to see if your cat inherited this serious autosomal dominant disorder that can lead to renal failure and death. DDC offers a PKD DNA test for Persians, Himalayans, and Exotics, as well as mixes of these three.

Annual Vet Expenses: Dogs

An American Kennel Club (AKC) survey of 1,000 dog owners found the average cost of vet care was $423 per year.

  • Checkups: $60 minimum
  • Dental care: $300 to $700
  • Rabies shots: $15 to $20
  • Preventative medical (fleas, deworming): $50 to $100

Emergency Medical Care: Dogs

Some procedures cost more for large dogs because they need more medications and fluids. The following averages are for large dogs.

  • X-rays: $150 to $250
  • Ultrasound: $300 to $600
  • Oxygen therapy: $1,000 to $3,000
  • Hospitalization (1 to 2 days): $800 to $1,700
  • Wound treatment/repair: $1,000 to $2,500
  • Emergency surgery: $2,000 to $5,000
  • Kennel cough: $75 to $200, an additional $200 to $500 for lab work and x-rays

Annual Vet Expenses: Cats

  • Checkups: $40 to $55
  • Dental cleaning/care: $150 to $500
  • Preventative medical (e.g. fleas, mites): $0 to $60 (most indoor cats don’t need this)
  • Vaccinations: $0 to $50 (boosters shots are only needed every three to seven years)

Emergency Medical Care: Cats

Emergency medical bills can cost $2,000 to $4,000 at some point during the lifetime of a cat. Pet insurance can greatly offset the cost of emergency medical care and long-term costs for chronic conditions and may be worth the $500 investment (on the high end). Cost estimates for specific procedures and emergency medical conditions:

  • X-rays: $150 to $250
  • Ultrasound: $300 to $600
  • Oxygen therapy: $500 to $2,500
  • Hospitalization (1 to 2 days): $600 to $1,500
  • Wound treatment/repair: $800 to $1,500
  • Emergency surgery: $1,500 to $3,000
  • Urethral blockage: $1,239

Cost of Feeding Your Pet

Cats can vary somewhat in size, but not enough to make a huge difference in upkeep. Dogs are a different story. The largest dog breed, the English Mastiff, can weigh between 100 and 340 pounds, while the smallest dog breed, the Chihuahua, weighs in at a mere 3 to 6 pounds. A 3-lb dog eats about 1/3-cup of food a day, while a 100-lb dog consumes 4 ½ cups a day.

  • The average cost to feed a dog is $20 to $60 per month ($250 to 700 per year).
  • Veterinary therapeutic diets can cost $100 or more per month.
  • The AKA survey found dog owners spent $446 per year on food, on average.
  • The 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) showed that the annual food costs for one dog was $259 versus $229 for each cat. Treats cost $76 for one dog versus $58 for each cat.

Of course, you also need to consider other pet-specific expenses. Litter and supplies for cats can run $72 to $240 annually. Every cat owner can tell you that they train their humans, whereas many dogs need to be professionally trained due to inherent behaviors! The average cost of dog training is $30 to $80 per class or about $50 per hour.

If you’re considering investing in a dog, DDC offers a full range of DNA testing including inherited diseases, inherited traits, and dog lineage. And a profile (genotyping) dog DNA test is the best way to protect your considerable investment in case Max runs away or is stolen.

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