9 costs to consider before becoming a pet owner

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Pets are so much fun: they’re great companions, they can help you relax after a stressful day, and in many cases they’re just plain cute.

Dogs, cats, and other animals can bring so much joy to your life, but like children, they don’t come cheap, especially if you take good care of your pet.

Whether you adopt or buy a pet from a store or a breeder, there are several costs to consider throughout your pet’s lifetime. The first is the acquisition cost. You can adopt a dog from a shelter for around $60 to over $200, depending on the shelter (this usually includes having them spayed and all their vaccinations), but we’ve seen French Bulldog puppies being sold through breeders for $7,000.

You want to do your breed research and make sure you have a healthy pet.

But again, there are benefits to having a pet in the home.

They can bring such unconditional love and companionship, and of course all the funny and cute things they do. The purpose of this article is not to dissuade you from owning a pet, but to guide you as to the resources you should have for a long-term financial commitment.

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A dog or a cat can have a lifespan of more than 15 years. It’s almost like raising a child to college age.

Many people adopt or buy animals and do not do take this into account in their planning. You may not be asking yourself the important questions, such as,

  • What if I have a baby?

  • What if my job forces me to move?

  • What happens if I purchase a condo with pet restrictions in the future?

There are sad stories of new babies with pet allergies, or people losing their jobs and having to give up pets they can no longer afford to care for.

Some costs to think about are:

1. Food and toys

Food can be quite expensive, especially if you have a larger animal. Your pet may also need toys, a bed, and maybe a crate for training. If you have a cat, you may need to buy something it can scratch. A few toys can easily cost $50, a dog bed is around $35, and a cat scratching post is $30 or more, depending on how fancy you want it to be.

2. Training costs and destruction of property

Puppies like to chew and kittens like to scratch furniture. It can be frustrating and costly, especially if the puppy is ravaging your expensive shoes. The average cost for dog training is around $50 per hour, but obedience training can range from $200 to $600 per week. A private dog trainer can run up to $150 per hour.

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3. Pet Insurance

If your pet has known health issues due to their breed, it may be a good idea to purchase pet insurance ahead of time or set aside some money for big vet bills. Pet insurance can range from as low as $10 per month to over $100 per month. Keep in mind that many insurance companies will exclude “typical” conditions associated with a breed.

4. General liability insurance

Some condo associations require you to have liability insurance if you have a pet, in case it bites or destroys property. This can increase your insurance costs. A co-worker said that her condo association actually requested an analysis of her dog’s poop so the culprit could be identified if the poop isn’t cleaned up!

5. Health/vet bills

These costs can be a wildcard, depending on your pet. Dogs should be treated periodically for heartworm, fleas, etc.

6. Grooming

It can cost up to $100 per visit, depending on the size of the animal and your location.

7. Travel/Pet Sitting

If you travel frequently or work outside your home, you will need to factor in the costs of someone caring for your pet while you are away. Bringing in a dog walker during the day can easily cost $20, depending on where you live. You want to find someone you trust who won’t put your pet in danger. Sitting a dog can cost $25 a day and $40 overnight. If you travel frequently, these costs can add up quickly.

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8. Service Animals

Service animals, such as emotional support pets, come at their own expense.

9. Future planning

Many people have created trusts for their pets. Since your pet is probably part of the family, what if something happens to you? Do you have plans in place for the animal and the financial resources to support it after you leave?


Evensky & Katz / Foldes Financial Wealth Management is a firm with more than 35 years of experience that specializes in financial planning and goal-based investment management. Its investment management services include portfolio construction, risk management, manager selection and asset allocation. “The integrity of our advice and our commitment to quality client services sets us apart from the rest,” says the group. Click or tap here to learn more.

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