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Hidden Costs of Pet Parenting

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French bulldog helping to pay bills

Resisting the impulse to become a pet parent can be difficult when you’re up against children begging for a puppy or that pang of need you feel when watching adorable cat videos on the internet.

Getting a pet might seem simple enough–adopt a pup or feline friend and live happily ever after–but there’s more to it than paying adoption fees and having the first vet visit. In fact, there’s a lot to consider before a prospective pet parent, like yourself, brings home a new fuzzy friend.

Dwelling Dollars

The shelter you’re adopting your pet pal from will probably inquire about your home situation, including whether you own or rent. Even if they don’t ask, it’s essential that you still consider your living situation. Pet parents facing an average monthly “pet rent” fee of $35 can end up paying $420 more annually than a non-pet parent.

How much it costs to rent a pet-friendly property will reflect the cost of living where you are. In a city like San Francisco, you can expect to pay extremely high rent to live with your pet friend. However, living with a cat or dog in a less expensive metro area like Phoenix or Detroit will likely be much more affordable. But keep in mind, you’ll be renting with your furry companion for many years unless you purchase your own home in their lifetime.

Besides your monthly “pet rent,” many rental properties will also charge you a pet deposit. Although this is a one-time fee, it can be much more expensive and even reach a few hundred dollars. While some apartments offer a refundable deposit, as long as your pet did not cause any damages, it’s still important to factor in these costs if you consider adopting a pet.

Proper Pet Budget

You know you’ll be buying dog food, kitty litter, and toys for your cat, but do you know how much you’ll be spending every year? Our strategic partner The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) estimates the annual cost of cat parenting to be $700. The annual cost to dog parents is in the same ballpark–around $600 to $900, depending on size.

But that doesn’t count the additional capital costs of the first year, which include spaying and neutering, collars, and pet furniture. You can expect to tack on an additional $600 for dogs and $400 for cats.

Just as you would have an emergency or rainy-day fund for yourself, it can also be beneficial to have a similar savings account for your pet. These funds can be saved specifically for emergencies or unexpected costs. As much as we try to keep our four-legged friends safe and healthy, accidents happen, and sometimes they unexpectedly get sick.

Sometimes it isn’t easy predicting what your average cost of pet care will be, but having a little extra set aside for “what if” incidences can bring you great peace of mind.

Hidden Costs

Now that you have your yearly pet budget nailed down, there are a couple of hidden costs you’ll need to add:

Going on vacation

Unless you’re traveling with your pet, you’ll want to hire a pet sitter or board your pet pal. Some kind friends of yours might take on the task for free, but you should expect to spend around $130 for a cat and $333 for a dog to keep your pet safe while you’re away. If you are a frequent traveler, pet sitting can become a big expense.

Appetite for destruction

Cats scratch, and puppies chew. There are ways to get around these kinds of shenanigans, but you can and should expect that your adorable pet will damage or destroy something you own. There’s no way of knowing what that might be, but it’s good to put a little cash away for “just in case” replacements.

Of course, there are also those pet-appropriate toys that will be destroyed due to normal wear and tear. You’ll get a feel for how often you’ll have to replace these the longer you live with your pet. Start setting some money aside in your budget now by doing some online comparison shopping.

While you were away

Pets, like people, can get lonely when their friends are away. Some pet parents opt for doggie daycare or dog walkers to keep their pups active during work hours. In some cities, the annual cost for a dog walker can be up to $5,000. Upper-end doggie daycares typically cost up to $550 a month.

Cat parents get off a bit easier here. Although, the question for feline friends might be how much you want to spend on a webcam to watch your kitty frolic while you are away at the office.

The extras

While it may be easier to factor in all of the routine pet expenses, such as collars, food, treats, toys, and a litter box, there may be additional pet supplies you need, but don’t think about until after you’ve gotten your pet. A significant expense for dog parents could include installing a fence. Or you may also discover that you want to enroll your pup in an obedience class.

For cat parents, expenses on average are lower than those for dog parents, but these smaller costs can still add up. After bringing your cat home, you may discover that they need a cat tower, more stimulating toys, or a more high-value cat food that better agrees with their tummy. Plus, many cat parents find that their feline does better with a friend around, so they end up adopting another cat.

The particular cat or dog breed that you adopt can also influence your average pet care costs.

black and white cat in a cone next to a window

Expecting the Unexpected

There are some costs that pet parents don’t often consider. Certain expenses are unpleasant to think about.

For instance, a sick pet could affect your income. According to our own survey, 30 percent of pet parents said they had missed work due to a pet illness. Three out of 10 pet parents said they missed workdays after the loss of a pet.

That lost time is in addition to the cost of emergency medical care, which could be anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000. Unfortunately, medical expenses are typically both unexpected and expensive, but pet health insurance can provide reimbursements for the treatment costs of accidents, injuries, illnesses, and more. Learn more about our plans.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

You know that your heart is big enough for a new cat or dog, but it’s essential to make sure your budget is, too. Check out more facts in the infographic below, and be sure to share them with friends and family members who are looking to make the move to pet parenthood.

Article Sources:
"Should You Pay Rent",
"Pet Care Costs", ASPCA
"Pet Industry Market Size, Trends & Ownership Statistics", American Pet Products Association
"How Much Does Doggy Day Care Cost?",
"The True Cost of Owning a Pet",
"ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Loss Survey, January-April 2016 featured on
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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