Are you ready to make the jump to pet ownership?
There's a reason 39 percent of American households own at least one dog. Adding a furry friend to your living space is a reason for excitement, cheer and anticipation. Plus, more and more landlords are advertising pet-friendly apartments.
Adopting or buying a pet comes with various expenses, though, some one-time and others recurring, such as a pet deposit and a monthly pet rent. It's important to know the full financial responsibilities of pet ownership before you make a decision.
Wave goodbye to sticker shock and prepare your budget for a new dog or cat. If you use your financial smarts and negotiating skills, you can adopt a pet without breaking the bank.
Whether you head to the pet store or to the animal shelter, adopting your pet will likely require some money. When adopting from a shelter, the adoption cost covers various components like the physical exam, ID tags and deworming medication.
Let's say you adopt your dog or cat from the American Humane Society. Their standard pet adoption fees range up to $660 for a new dog or puppy and up to $270 for a kitten or cat, although most new pet owners will pay much less than the maximum.
If your eyes are bugging out at some of these adoption prices, remember that those numbers combine multiple services and goods. That one-time payment isn't too bad when you consider what you'd probably be spending to purchase everything separately.
For example, purchasing a dog from a breeder or pet store can cost hundreds of dollars — maybe even $1,000 or more, depending on the breed — and you may need to purchase spaying or neutering, medication and other basics on your own.
Your new friend will need essentials like food, water and toys. Diet will depend on the animal's size — the smaller the animal is, the less it needs and vice versa. According to the ASPCA, you can expect to pay $212 a year for a small dog, $400.31 for a large canine and $224 for a cat.
Animals can be fickle with their cuisine, and you don't want to spend money on bags of food they won't eat. Many pet stores will give you sample sizes to take home and try out. If your pet likes it, you can buy more. Consider the ingredient list while you shop, too. Meals higher in fat and protein will tack on more cents per calorie, but you can determine this final expense using a food calculator.
The ASPCA also estimates up to $75 per year on dog treats and toys, while cats are around $25. If you aren't a cat person, don't rule out having a feline friend — your bank account will thank you later.
Finally, dog owners will need to budget for grooming expenses. Large dogs or those with luxurious coats will be more expensive and extra services have their own fees, so cost varies widely. However, pet owners report an average cost of $53 per visit. If you take your dog to the groomer's every other month at this rate, grooming may cost $318 per year.
Many landlords with pet-friendly rentals will charge you a deposit to cover any damages your pet causes. You'll receive this money back as long as no losses occur. However, some managers keep a portion — or all of it — to cover cleaning services. The next renter shouldn't have a clue that an animal once lived there, so deep cleaning is necessary if you'd like to avoid deductions.
Pet fees are similar to deposits, except they're nonrefundable. These can range anywhere from $200 to $500. You may also be charged monthly pet rent, which can be $10 to $50 per month. Not all rental agreements require such rent, but many do. It's important to clarify expectations with your landlord before you sign a lease.
There are differences if you rely on support from a trained service dog. The ADA and/or FHA prohibits landlords from charging a pet fee in properties compliant with either set of regulations. However, this rule can be different for emotional support animals. Check with the property manager to see what their guidelines are and if they align with local laws.
If your pet stays happy and healthy throughout its life, many of your medical expenses will be one-time or annual. If you adopt, the organization you get your pet from likely handles the vaccinations, preventative care and neutering, though you'll have to repeat the former two annually.
The American Pet Products Association conducted a pet owner survey and found that routine checkups are around $212 for dogs and $160 for cats. APPA also states that surgical visits are $214 for cats and $426 for dogs.
Then, there's emergency care. An urgent vet visit can cost between $800 and $1,500, which can take a toll on any pet owner's emergency fund. Bypass these extra costs by ensuring your animal's health is in tip-top shape. Exercise them regularly, care for their fur and teeth and feed them adequate food for their size and breed.
However, medical care can also be managed with pet insurance. Insurance will reduce the financial strain in case anything happens to your pet, and is a good financial move for many pet owners.
The average monthly cost of pet insurance is $45 for a dog and $28 for a cat. This means yearly coverage could cost a dog owner $540 and a cat owner $336. This figure includes wellness checkups, so while individual circumstances will vary, this means you can budget with less worry about unexpected emergencies.
Visit a local animal welfare organization if you can't afford a policy. Many of them provide financial assistance programs to cover medical bills. Urgent expenses tend to fall under medical care, but this could also mean needing to hire a pet sitter at the last minute. Store money for an emergency pet fund if you can.
Licensing depends on state laws, but it's recommended even if your local government doesn't require it. Your license comes with an ID you can attach to your pet's collar, which is helpful if they ever get lost. This protective measure allows you to find your beloved pet if they slip the leash, saving you lots of time and worry.
You can't apply for a license unless your vet has vaccinated your pup, so remember to keep up with the shots. How much you'll pay varies across states and counties. For example, New York City charges $8.50 annually for spayed dogs and $34 for unspayed canines more than four months old.
Call your Animal Control office to find out more. You'll have to renew the license yearly for the same price, which is one of the smaller expenses on your list.
When you add it all up, here's a rough estimate of what the expenses of your first year of pet ownership will be. Keep in mind that your actual expenses will depend heavily on your pet's size, medical needs and breed, as well as your landlord's pet policies and other local regulations.
Make this total lower by adopting from a local shelter, choosing a smaller dog and/or seeking out a lease agreement with a reasonable pet deposit or pet rent. Large dogs, expensive breeds and/or pricier pet fees can make pet ownership more expensive in the first year.
Reduce the overall cost by adopting an older cat from a local shelter or by looking for specials on adoption fees. Your landlord's specific pet policies will also affect this estimate — cats often have lower fees than dogs in a rental agreement.
Leave the financial stress behind by budgeting everything from your utility bills to your pet treats. As long as you monitor your finances every month, you can stay on top of your spending and avoid digging yourself into a hole. After all, that's your dog's job — not yours!