Costs Of Owning A Pet…Can You Really Afford One?

pet ownership



Owning a pet costs money and I’m not talking chump change neither. There are significant start-up and ongoing costs that should be factored in to your decision to be a pet owner. So often I see people who get googly-eyed over a small kitten or a small fluffy dog and jump right in and adopt one or take one on for free.

Impulse purchases are the worst and are often the expenses that will cost you most out-of-pocket. Dogs depending on size can live 8-14 years and the costs of owning a dog can mount up according to Dr. John Williams at Pet Place.

Dr. Williams goes on to say;

Small to Med dogs

  • Estimated lifespan 14 years
  • Start Up costs $740-$1325 (first year)
  • Annual Costs $500-$875
  • Lifetime Costs $7240- $12,700

Large Dogs

  • Estimated lifespan 8 years
  • Start Up Costs  $1020-$1825 (first year)
  • Annual Costs $690-$875
  • Lifetime Cost $5850-$7950

There are reasons people offer their pets for free, mainly costs they never considered but other reasons such as allergies, not getting on with other pets or family members, scratching, illness (which they may not even tell you about) and the list goes on.

A great example and I’m always going back to our mate (good thing she doesn’t read this blog) who is struggling to pay her bills and keep a roof over her head due to a large debt load. We bumped into her last week and as we were catching up about what’s been happening in our lives she goes on to say she took on a baby dog.

Don’t ask me what breed the dog is as I was more in awe about why on earth she would commit to a owning a dog. Her fiancée who has kids wanted this dog to love and to take care of she tells us. They live in an already busy apartment with no space that is practically falling down around them. They can’t save money, they are in debt, hardly able to buy groceries and they bought a dog. Are you shaking your head yet? If not, now’s a good time.

I’m not saying that people who are in debt aren’t able to care for a pet as that is not the case. The problem is when your budget is already stretched to cover the roof over your head and food on the table it’s not likely you can handle ongoing costs of the pet which can add up especially if your pet gets ill.

As a dog owner since his birth our pet gets all the love and attention he needs and is well taken care of with a staggering 3 walks per day. He’s a lucky boy! He is part of our family and we know we will be devasted when he is no longer with us. They sort of grow on you and you treat them as part of the clan.


Please Walk Your Dog


Another example is our neighbours who have a dog and seriously are that lazy to walk the dog around the block to do his business. They literally walk the dog out the front door and tell him to hurry and do his business on the front lawn and then cleans it up. The dog is a young, vibrant dog that always wants to play with our dog when we walk by, but that would never happen.

Although not everyone may not be able to walk a dog due to illness or disability a back yard where the dog can run free is always good or simply paying someone to walk the dog daily is also a good idea.  There are many benefits to adopting a pet and for some a companion or someone just to be at the front door when they come home from work is all they need.

One of the young girls in our neighbourhood put up a sign on the mailbox looking for work walking dogs. I thought, brilliant a young entrepreneur at her finest starting at the age of 7. She also delivers flyers on a weekly basis as is never late.

You can tell this child is in it for the money and is grasping what responsibility and saving money is all about. She told me the other day when I asked her what she does with all her paper route money and she responded that she is saving it for her future. Sounds to me like her parents have taught her about finance from a young age.


Pet Ownership is Family


We’ve been lucky with our dog as he has given us no problems over the years and has always had good check-ups at the veterinarian every year. Sure a pet costs money but if you can’t invest the time, money and love a pet needs… don’t bother getting one. You may just end up frustrated and it’s not the pets fault who simply wants to be in a loving home where he/she is safe.

Costs Associated with owning a pet can vary depending on the kind of pet you have such as ferret, snakes, rabbit, fish, guinea pigs, dogs and cats. For the most part costs are inevitable and should be included in the budget in projected expenses if something should happen. There’s nothing worse than having no money to pay for your pet’s illness or emergency operation.


Ways We Have Saved Money With Our Pet


Our pet can run us around $800-1000 a year factoring in expenses and potential emergency expenses so we need to make sure that we set this money aside. We have been fortunate to have used pet coupons for treats and pet food the past year which greatly reduced costs with our pet. Since we are now paying for food and treats we have had to make changes to our budget. We now save $83.33 a month for the dog.

Some people include pet in their grocery budget but we are not sure if we can do that yet. We may give it a try once we see where our new budget takes us as we are already pushing the envelope with our grocery shops as it is. If we don’t use all the pet savings at least we know the money will be there. We pick up pet toys for free at garage sales as well as other items like a dog bowl etc. Sometimes when pet owners have a pet who passes away they often donate or give away their pets belongings.


Can You Afford To Own A Pet?


Below is what we typically would pay for or save for each year to own our pet. Everyone may have different needs for their pet but the bottom line is, pets are not free or cheap to own especially if they get ill or have a disease.

I know cleaning our dogs teeth ran us around $700.00. So think about what responsibilities you are taking on and whether you are able to take care of ongoing costs associated with being a responsible pet owner. Love sometimes is just not enough.

Typical Costs Associated With Owning A Dog

  • One time fee -Adoption Costs can vary depending on breed (unless you get your pet for free)
  • Food-Monthly We feed our pet dry food from the local shops. Specialty, diet or adult food can run you more money especially if it’s vet food.
  • Dog Treats/Dog Cookies- Monthly and these can get costly depending on what you buy.
  • Toys – Typically we get them free but they can be costly
  • Poop Bags- Monthly
  • Poop Bin- Buy when needed.. ie: wear and tear, goes missing (we’ve lost ours in rain storms, wind)
  • Accessories ie: water bowls, booties, jackets,walking lead, dog/cat bed,blankets, cushions, scratching posts
  • Annual Licence
  • Pet Insurance
  • Medical Costs- including dental work and for any other illness, medications
  • Crate for travelling- one time cost
  • Dog Bed- One time cost
  • Dog Pillow- We buy this once per year. Just like we need a new mattress or pillow so will your pet.
  • Travel Bag- One time fee to carry items when travelling
  • Dog Training – Our dog went through training in the early years
  • Spay/Neutering- One time fee
  • Micro-Chip- Our dog is micro-chipped -a one time fee
  • Blood Tests- When needed by Vet
  • Vaccinations- Heart worm, Flea and Tick Control- We do this every year
  • Pet Sitting- If you are going on vacation this can run you about $25- $50 or more depending on if your pooch is dropped off at the Posh Pet Hotel or a friend’s house.
  • Grooming Costs (our neighbour has the travelling spa come to his house)
  • Dog House- Our dog stays indoors

Discussion Question: How much does it cost you to own your pet annually?


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Photo Credits: RF123


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  1. Thank you for posting this article
    I never really thought about how much to budget for my furkids until I read this.
    Right now my golden retriever eats about $50 a month in a really high quality dog food and $5 worth of knuckle bones from the butcher every couple months but she’s only a year old. My coton de tulear is 10 years old and her expenses are a lot less, maybe $50 of the same brand for senior dogs every 3 months 🙂 I used to pay for grooming but learned to do it myself now.
    treats are cheap because I only give them dry cheerios butttt puppies also chew. I have had a lot of damage and replacement costs for shoes, garden hose, the cable wire that runs inside to the house (lol) and the list goes on. I’m very grateful that both dogs are really healthy and no medical expenses so far. I built a kennel with lumber left over from a project I did a couple years ago and had chain link fencing on hand.
    But I also have to consider the joy they bring me and there is no dollar figure I can put on that, or the protection of the yard. My neighborhood is starting to get kind of scary and people used to wander into the yard once in a while until I got my retriever. She will run at people and look really intimidating, even though she is only running to play. Last summer she scared more than one visitor back to their cars with her deep throaty bark and 80 lbs of pure energy.

    I will definitely start a page in my budget notebook to track expenses after reading this article.

    Thanks again

    1. You’re welcome Loraine,
      It sounds like your dogs are well cared for. The price you pay for food is pretty good. We thought of all the expenses we would have to pay and then divide it up over 12 months and save that in our projected expenses account each month. When we buy food or need anything for the pet the money is already saved. Projected expenses are saved all year long even if a debt is paid because we spread the monthly savings for the debt over the 12 months. That helps to overlap other expenses that come out of the account until the account is big enough that it’s a revolving expense account.

  2. Jefferson and I really want to get a dog, but we are being very patient and responsible with our finances right now. It is something we know we will splurge on eventually because our whole family loves dogs, so knowing the costs we’ll likely be facing is great….and scary….lol.

    1. It’s important to be informed responsible pet owners for you and the dogs sake. The pet only wants someone who will love them and take care of them for many many years. People tend to forget the many many years part. Cheers Mr.CBB

    1. It is alot of work and stress, I agree Jason. We love our pet but at our age it really puts a hold on our life. We aren’t looking to spend a fortune on sending our pet to the kennel either. So until then we will love our pet and do what we have been doing but after then we will remain pet-free. Cheers mate. Mr.CBB

  3. Mr. CBB, that was a great post. I have been on the board of the local Humane Society for nine years. One of my jobs is to answer the phone messages daily. Every day there are calls from people who can’t afford food, shots, or veterinary care. Often they don’t spay or neuter because of the cost, then end up with litters of babies that they have to find homes for, or, all too sadly, dump somewhere. Your hit it spot on with “love is not enough.” I know people fall on hard times and need assistance, and that is mainly why our charity exists, but if you have to call monthly for food, you don’t need a pet. We’ve adopted or fostered several dogs over the years that were homeless. I can’t imagine not having a pet, but it would be selfish to do so if I couldn’t pay for basic expenses and have some savings set aside for emergencies.

    1. Yes, that is all I was saying about owning a pet. One should be able to sustain any expenses that arise from owning a pet or they shouldn’t bother. Some people have said they are not rich and it doesn’t cost alot etc but the bills will mount when emergencies occur, vet bills, medications, yearly check ups. I’m sure many many pets don’t even go to the vet… the list goes on and on. Maybe I should have been a vet!

  4. Thank you for writing this! So many times people don’t understand that owning a pet is a huge financial responsibility. You never know what’s going to come up with them health-wise. Please allow me to share a bit of what I’ve experienced as a pet owner.

    We have a cat that developed hyperthyroidism (one-time treatment was $2000), another with asthma (her refills for meds are $30, which we need every 3 months or so) plus a couple of check-ups including blood work (about $250 twice a year), and a dog prone to pancreatitis (if she gets into something she shouldn’t, a trip to the vet typically costs about $500 to get her back to good health-she’s 8 years old and has had 4 bouts of it).

    And most recently, our ferret developed insulinoma ($300 for definitive diagnosis, $200 for checkups every 3 months, $16 per month for medicine). She was also just diagnosed yesterday with lymphoma (cancer of the lymph system). It’s terminal, but she will need certain medications to ease the symptoms and will eventually have to be euthanized. Cremation will be $200.

    We, too, have a monthly budget for our pets that includes food, treats, and vet bills. To save some money, I sometimes make my own dog food and grow cat grass and catnip (much cheaper than buying it!), and make my own cat toys. I use plastic bags from the store for clean up, use newspaper for litter box liners and shred it for cages.

    Owning pets may not be cheap, but what they give back is worth the price for me. I’m pretty sure “love” and “happiness” are part of a dogs genetic code. Cats always know when you need them. Witnessing a ferret do the “happy dance” will crack me up every time. And nothing makes me happier than walking in the door and being greeted by my furry little family :).

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. It breaks my heart when I see pets that are not loved or cared for. When some people get over the lovey dovey stage and find their pets an annoyance and they beg for love, someone to pet them or walk them, it’s sad. Pets are costly and yes they give back but we as pet owners have to go the mile with them. Thanks for sharing your story. MR.CBB

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