According to a recent BarkBox study, a whopping 93% of dog owners believe their canine companion has made them a better person. Another 71% believe their dogs have made them happier people.
That is a fantastically impressive degree of life enrichment, but it does not come without a price tag: The ASPCA estimates that the average consumer will spend nearly $1,200 in the first year of owning a cat, and $1,400 to $2,000 in the first year of owning a dog, depending on size.
Further, Americans spend a whopping $69 billion annually on their pets, including pet food, supplies, vet care, grooming and boarding, according to the American Pet Products Association. And that number has increased every year since 1994, when the APPA started tracking these figures.
The good news is, if you know what’s coming, you can carve out space in your budget as well as your heart for the arrival of your new best friend.
Here are some costs to consider before heading out to your local pet store or shelter:
Purchase or adoption. It’s likely no surprise that purchasing a pure-bred dog or cat can be pricey—a pup or kitten from the litter of some prized breeds might set you back anywhere between $1,000 to $3,000. But adoption isn’t free, either. Many organizations charge as much as $150 to $300, which usually includes an adoption fee, spay or neuter surgery, a medical evaluation, vaccines and a microchip.
Pet registration. Many communities require you to register your pet, either one time or on an annual basis. This licensing fee will probably cost you approximately $20.
Vet care. Pets often get into things they shouldn’t. Consider, for example, the Labrador retriever who ate his owner’s sewing pincushion full of straight pins or the dog that somehow managed to swallow multiple baby socks. (Both true stories.) Be forewarned, though: The cost of keeping your pet healthy goes beyond paying for emergency vet care and—just like people—animals need regular checkups as well as vaccines to protect against diseases such as rabies, distemper, parvovirus and canine hepatitis. Many vets also recommend heartworm and flea/tick prevention medication. In fact, routine pet care could cost $400 to $500 a year—even if you avoid the sewing pincushion and baby sock incidents.
Walking or daycare. At $15 to $20 a pop, daily dog walking can add up fast. If you have a particularly active pet, you may even need to invest in regular daycare to provide your pet with the exercise and socialization they need to remain happy and healthy. Expect to pay between $12 to $38 for a full day of proper care and attention, depending on where you live.
Boarding or pet sitting. Alas, not every establishment is as enamored of four-legged friends as you and your family. Which means you’re probably going to have to take some trips without your pet. Boarding can cost anywhere from $20 to $50 a day—or more, if you’re in a high-end area—and pet sitting costs about the same amount.
Food and supplies. According to the APPA, pet owners spend more than $300 a year on food and treats for dogs and cats and another $30 to $47 on toys. (These prices can rise further if you choose name brands or higher grade foods.) And then there are all the other supplies you may need to purchase—think beds, crates, leashes, collars, waste bags, pet gates, etc.
Training. If you adopt a rescue animal with some behavioral quirks or are simply seeking a more harmonious household in general, professional training services might be a smart extra to add to your list. On average, a dog trainer may cost about $165, but the price tag could soar to $400 or more depending upon the services you need and your geographic area.
Pet insurance. Fewer than 1% of pet owners purchase insurance for their pets. Some pet insurance doesn’t cover routine or preventive care, but, rather, primarily covers care resulting from accidents or illnesses—so choose your plan carefully. If your pet stays healthy and accident-free for the duration of a year, paying $400 or more for your dog or $200 or more for your cat annually can feel excessive. For those pet owners who have paid thousands for emergency treatment or surgical care, however, it’s another story. If you don’t have an emergency fund available to help handle such large unforeseen pet-related expenses, pet insurance may be worth considering.
Pets can require a substantial commitment of time and resources, but for the vast majority of owners the benefits far outweigh any sacrifices. In this case, perhaps money can help you buy a little happiness.