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The Unexpected Cost Of Pet Ownership

Thinking of adding a dog or cat to your family? Or maybe you want to get a rabbit and a chicken? Owning a pet means taking on all the responsibilities of caring for it, including financial costs. All new pet owners should be prepared for the unanticipated costs of pet ownership, such as medical emergencies, besides the everyday costs of food, supplies, and an annual checkup at the vet. Here are some facts about the costs of pet ownership everyone thinking about owning a pet should know.

Puppies And Kittens

According to the ASPCA, the first-year costs of owning a pet can be over $1,000, especially when they are young. Puppies and kittens will need to visit the vet more often than adults, especially for vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery. Puppies and kittens rescued from less-than-perfect living conditions might need extra medical care for parasites and infections. A puppy may also require training classes, especially if you plan on bringing them with you on vacations.

Small Animals

The initial start-up costs when you get pets like rabbits and guinea pigs can be more than you think. Expect to pay about $100 for a rabbit cage and $70 for a guinea pig cage. Did you know that bedding/litter for these pets can cost over $400 a year? Compare that to around $150 for kitty litter.

Veterinary Expenses

Cat being handled by a vet

Have you heard of the term economic euthanasia? This is when pet owners are forced to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanize pets because they cannot afford the costs of critical veterinary care.

The cost of surgery to repair broken bones or remove intestinal blockages can be several thousand dollars. If you don't have an emergency fund set aside, consider getting pet health insurance or veterinary financing like CareCredit.

Besides vet bills, there are also other medical expenses you need to look out for. This includes pet insurance, vaccines, and spaying or neutering. There are also other things you might have to buy for them as they recover, like dog cones or recovery suits. You might also have to pay for services like:

  • Teeth Cleaning or Dental Care: The costs for cleaning your pooch's teeth depend on whether or not the procedure requires anesthesia. 

  • De-Shedding Treatments: De-shedding is definitely a must if you don't want to constantly be cleaning pet fur off of your furniture. It's also a good option for pet owners who have household members with pet allergies.

  • Flea or Tick Treatments: Flea treatments aren't just a one-time thing. Treatments can add up over time, as you must keep applying them until you're 100% sure your pet is free from those pesky itches.

Grooming Costs for Your Pet

Every pet deserves to look presentable and put-together, with his fur neatly trimmed and feathered–but don't be fooled! Keeping that dapper do takes a lot of maintenance, and the costs for this type of pet care can really start to add up.

Just consider what goes into a grooming session:

Bath Time

First comes bath time. Not only do you have to factor in the cost of shampoo and conditioner for long-haired pooches, but there's also an entire process of brushing out knots and drying. Plus, this task is best left to professional groomers who know exactly how squeaky clean your pup should be.


If your pup's fur needs to be clipped or styled short, you're looking at additional costs. Groomers will likely suggest blowouts after a haircut—that's right, just like at the salon! The good news is that some salons offer packages where they cut the cost of blowouts if they're included with a trim or grooming package.

Nail Trimming

Nail trims are often included in every grooming package, but there may also be additional fees for special services like nail polishing—yes, folks, your pup can totally rock those hot pink claws! Of course, you can always opt for do-it-yourself nail trimming if you want to save a few bucks here and there.

And if your pup has any special needs? You'll want to factor those extra costs into your regular budget as well. Bottom line? Grooming isn't cheap—but it might just be necessary for keeping your furry friend looking his best (and feeling comfortable).

Property Damage

Black Miniature Pinscher with a wrecked stuffed toy

You should anticipate the cost of property damage. No matter how well-trained your cat or dog is, there's no guarantee that they won't cause a little (or maybe a lot!) of damage to your home or yard. A bored pet that's looking for something to do can quickly turn from playful to nefarious. Here are a few examples of what can happen:

  • Your doors may look like they just went 10 rounds with a giant claw hammer

  • Your carpet may be scratched (in ways it was never meant to be scratched)

  • Your furniture's upholstery will resemble Swiss cheese

  • Your fence might become part of your pet's escape plan

Take it from us—as a responsible pet owner, it pays off to prepare for these potential mishaps. Set aside some money for additional repairs and behavior training now, and you'll thank yourself later!

Older Pets

Just like humans, our beloved pets need more help as they get older—think of it as the "Senior Citizen Discount" for dogs and cats. Sure, we might joke about it being their retirement years, but in reality, older pets require a different level of care that comes with some unexpected expenses.

But what does a pet owner need to prepare for when caring for their aging fur baby? Here are just a few of the costs that could come up:

  1. Prescriptions: If your pet is on medication, you might have to factor in a trip to the vet into your budget every month.

  2. Insurance: If you don't already have pet insurance, then now could be the time to invest—you never know when an emergency visit will cost you your life's savings!

  3. Special food: As pets age, they tend to require different nutrients and special diets that may not come cheap—but it's worth it if it means giving them the best life in their golden years.

  4. Mobility Aides: Joint issues can mean your pup may need a ramp or other special equipment to help them get around more easily as they age.

When you love someone (or something!), it's no surprise that you'll want to give them the best—no matter what age they are! So be prepared and research all of your options before adopting a new four-legged friend.

Who knows? You just might save yourself from some unexpected costs down the track! Go even further by screaming your love out loud for your pet and purchasing dog-themed or cat-themed apparel from our vast collection!

Unexpected Cost Of Pet Ownership FAQ

Is pet ownership increasing?

Yes! According to the latest stats from Forbes, 66% of US households are pet parents as of 2023. And that percentage is gradually increasing! That's because owning a furry friend has a lot of health benefits—like reducing stress, improving mental and emotional well-being, and even increasing physical activity.

Is dog ownership worth it?

It definitely can be! It comes down to your lifestyle, budget, and needs as a family. Generally speaking, most families that decide to bring a dog into their home end up being very happy with their decision. But it's important to think about the cost before committing, both financially and emotionally!

How much are pet adoption fees?

Adopting a pet is more cost-effective than buying one from a breeder or store—adoption fees typically range from $50-$300 depending on the breed and age of the pet.

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