The Costs of Raising a Pet Every Potential Owner Should Know

Raising a dog or cat is highly rewarding, but it’s also expensive.

Many owners adopt a pet without understanding just how much having one actually costs and don’t prepare for the unexpected bills that come with rescuing a four-legged friend. When they’re hit with unforeseen expenses it can often lead to abandonment and a dog or cat losing its home, which is why it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you head to the shelter.


The number one cost that pet owners overlook is that of emergency medical care. Most will find themselves at the vet’s office due to an emergency at least once over the course of their pet’s life, and the bill afterwards can be shocking. It’s not uncommon for costs to reach into the thousands if your pet requires surgery or continual treatment for a disease. You should always have at least $2,000 set aside in case something goes wrong.

Your typical vet visit that need to be performed each year will cover exams, heartworm, fecal checks, and vaccines, all of which need to be checked regularly, and can run you between $100 and $500 a year.

Food & Treats

Basic nutritional needs for your dog or cat can be expensive, even more so if your furry friend requires a special diet due to allergies or other needs. On the low end (not very active toy breed), expect to pay up to $200 for pet food a year. For a giant breed, you could end up throwing down thousands of dollars a year to keep your friend in tip-top shape.

Basic Needs

In addition to feeding your pet you’ll need to keep him comfy and entertained over the course of his long life. That means providing adequate toys and bedding, and then tools to take him on daily walks and trips to the vet’s office. Most toys will run you around $40 over the course of the year, assuming your pet is an average chewer, while bedding can cost another $50. You’ll also need a crate for when you’re away from the house as well as one that you can use to transport your pet from point A to B. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a two-in-one crate ranging somewhere between $50 and $200 depending on the size. Leashes and collars will be roughly another $40 to $60.

Boarding & Babysitters

If you’re leaving home for an extended period of time for work or vacation and you need to leave your dog with someone, expect to pay a pretty penny. Whether you opt for a kennel or a dog or cat sitter it’s likely going to cost you between $20 and $50 a night.


Your dog is going to need regular haircuts, nail trims and teeth cleanings throughout his life. Luckily, some of these things can be done at home with proper training. If you’re not interested in doing it yourself, or you just trust a groomer and vet to handle it better, then count on dropping around $200 to $400 a year. If you learn to do most of it at home yourself, aside from the deep dental cleanings, you can save yourself a couple hundred bucks.


Training is a necessary component of raising a pet and it doesn’t always end after your pet reaches adulthood. Behavioral problems can pop up at any point throughout his life and they need to be addressed with professional help in most cases. A good trainer will run you between $200 and $500 a year, depending on the severity of the issues and the amount of training sessions needed to overcome them.

All in all, expect to pay at least $1,500 each year for your pet’s basic needs while also having between $2,00 and $3,000 set aside for emergencies. The larger and more active your pet is, the higher the financial costs are going to be.

Meet the Author: Ben Kerns

Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible. This stuff gets expensive.

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