Bringing Home a New Pet? Here Are the Costs to Expect
Thinking about adopting a new dog or cat? Over the past few years, more Americans have welcomed pets into their homes. In 2020, 40% more pets were adopted than in 2019.1 While it’s exciting to own a new pet, it’s also crucial to understand the fees associated with them. Let’s look at expected costs to prepare you for any pricey surprise.
Initial pet costs
Their love is invaluable, but pets are not free. If you purchase a pet from a reputable breeder or store, you can expect to pay $500 to $2,000, or more (depending on the breed). Meanwhile, dogs and cats adopted from shelters or rescues are more affordable—at about $50 to $200—including spaying or neutering.2
After deciding on a pet, you’ll also need to vaccinate it. Initial vaccinations for a dog or cat can range from $50 to $150, depending on where you live. If they’re not already spayed or neutered, it’s best to get this done at the same time. A spay or neuter can cost up to $200. But it’s a smart investment to prevent puppies or kittens in the future.2 According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), spaying and neutering an animal can also help prevent medical issues in the future. For example, spaying a female pet can help prevent uterine infections and breast tumors in 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. Meanwhile, neutering a male pet can help prevent testicular cancer and prostate issues.3
At the first veterinary visit, you may need to pay for medications, grooming services and dental care, too. When it’s all said and done, you’re looking at up to $2,000 just to bring your new best friend home. Plus, pets require an annual visit to the vet for checkups and booster shots.
Annual vaccines, medicines and licensing
Keep up with your pet’s well-being to avoid risking future health issues. Most veterinarians recommend monthly wellness exams until a puppy is about 16 weeks old and then a regular vaccine schedule through the first year.4 When your puppy reaches adulthood, you can expect an annual exam that’s about $50 to $400 each time. Dental care usually costs about the same amount.5
In addition to wellness visits, also factor in these yearly costs:5
- Vitamins: $100 a year
- Flea, tick and heartworm medicines: $20 per month ($480 a year)
- Licenses (for dogs): $15 per year6 (check renewal requirements at your local government office)8
A dog license proves your dog is safe and vaccinated, and helps your local animal control understand how to handle your dog. And it’s the law to get a license if you own a dog.5
Rental or HOA fees, and insurance costs
Renters, check your lease before bringing home a new pet. If dogs or cats are allowed, most landlords require a deposit or fee. These costs can range from $200 to $500 for a one-time fee or $25 to $100 for monthly rent. Be honest with the landlord and you may be able to negotiate terms. Landlords just want to cover the costs of any damage. Keep in mind: birds, fish and reptiles may not require a fee, so ask about them first.7
Own a condo? Check with your homeowners’ association (HOA) before buying or adopting. Some HOAs prohibit pets, charge fees or have rules to follow. For example, learn your HOA’s guidelines for picking up animal waste, barking and the number of pets allowed. Otherwise, you could risk getting penalized and have to pay a hefty fine.
Finally, the cost of your renters or home insurance may change if you have a pet because owning an animal could lead to damage and insurance claims. Talk with an insurance professional about how your policy may change, then add these costs into your budget.
Boarding and pet care
When you plan a vacation, factor in fees for boarding, a pet hotel or an in-home pet sitter. These costs can vary, depending on the type of pet care you choose.9
- Kennel boarding: a standard option giving your dog or cat all its basic needs (food, water, a bed and a few brief walks). Some kennels offer the option for your pet to play with others that are boarded. The average cost is $20 to $50 a night.
- Pet hotels: you’re on vacation and so is your pet. At an average cost of $50 to $200 a night, pet hotels include all the bells and whistles such as obstacle courses, recreational areas, fancy beds and more.
- In-home pet sitters: prices depend on the sitter. Note that a pet sitter gives your animal personalized care in their own home environment.
If you work outside of the home, you may need to invest in a daytime pet sitter, pet daycare or a dog walker. These daily costs range from $20 to $40 or more per day (depending on how much hands-on care your pet needs). Fortunately, if you work from home and can care for your pet throughout the day, you may be able to skip these extra costs.10
Some pets need more professional grooming than others. For example, poodles and bichon frises require regular brushing and clipping, otherwise they get painful snags in their coats. That said, all pets (including cats) benefit from regular grooming services – even if it’s just a light wash.
Some pet owners do their own grooming, but it’s time consuming. A professional groomer costs $30 to $500 per visit. Services include brushing, de-matting, shampooing, nail-trimming, teeth-brushing and much more. Depending on your pet, it may be worth it to hire a professional.11
Unexpected medical care
Whether a skin condition or ear infection, most pets acquire health issues — and it can be costly. An unexpected veterinary visit can cost up to $1,500.12 If your pet is diagnosed with something more serious, it can cost thousands of dollars in care.
Top health issues for dogs:13
- Skin conditions
- Digestive issues
- Ear infections
Common health issues for cats:
- Urinary tract infections
- Foreign body obstructions
For many people, pets are family members. Just like you would for a new baby, you should plan ahead and prepare to financially care for your pet.
Insurance for pets
Just think, one major vet bill adds up to all your premiums over time. The cost of insurance varies, according to your pet and coverage. Depending on the insurer, you may be able to pay monthly or annually.14 Insurance for cats generally costs less than it does for dogs. You can also choose accident-only coverage versus accident and illness insurance.15
Contact an insurance professional to walk you through your pet insurance options. Ask for their best recommended pet coverage. Purchasing pet insurance ahead of time saves you more in the long run, especially if your pet is young with more possibilities to face unexpected health issues.
Pet food, treats and supplies
You’ll also need to add a few extra supplies to your shopping list. One source claims these are the necessary items with their yearly costs:2
- Pet food and treats: $200 to $700 a year (special dietary options can cost more)
- Toys: $25 to $50 a year
- Leashes and collars: $20 to $50
- Beds: $50 to $200
If budget is an issue, you can also look for used leashes, collars and dog houses.
Training classes and programs
Your pet will be less destructive and happier if you can successfully complete a training program. This includes cats. For example, most cats can be trained to use a litter box, avoid scratching furniture and stop biting. Dogs, on the other hand, can be trained in everything from basic recall, to tricks, to off-leash hiking and even for specific jobs, like law enforcement.
The average cost of a puppy training class or resources is $25 to $300.2 If you’d like to enroll your dog in more specialized training, like an off-leash bootcamp or vocational program, however, it can cost thousands of dollars to complete.
The total cost of pet ownership
Depending on your pet and its health, you can pay as much as $1,500 to $9,000 a year or more on training it.2 Pet ownership is a big investment, but well worth it for many people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, animals can lower our blood pressure, give us opportunities to exercise and help us develop friendships with others.16
If you own a pet now, you probably can’t imagine your life without your furry friend. After all, sometimes benefits outweigh costs in immeasurable ways.
1 U.S. Pet Adoptions Still Strong as Cats, Dogs Melt Stress, Reuters, 2021.
2 Costs of Owning a Dog, The Spruce, 2021.
3 Spay/Neuter Your Pet, ASPCA, 2021.
4 How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?, Rover.com, 2021.
5 Pet Ownership Costs Guide for 2021, The Simple Dollar, 2020.
6 The Annual Cost of Pet Ownership, Money Under 30, 2022.
7 Pet Rent vs. Pet Deposits and Fees, Zillow.com, 2020.
8 How Much Does It Cost to Have a Dog?, ASPCA, 2022.
9 How Much Does Dog Boarding Cost?, Rover.com, 2021.
10 How Much Does Doggy Daycare Cost?, Rover.com, 2021.
11 Why It’s Worth Having Your Dog Groomed Professionally, American Kennel Club, 2021.
12 How Much Does a Vet Visit Cost?, Fetch, 2021.
13 Top 10 Reasons Why Pets See a Veterinarian, Today’s Veterinary Practice, 2021.
14 Do You Need Pet Insurance for Your Dog?, American Kennel Club, 2020.
15 How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?, Forbes Advisor, 2021.
16 About Pets and People, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022.