Let’s face it; everyone wants a puppy. Between that adorable squishy face and wagging tail, how can anyone resist? But while everyone may want a puppy, can everyone afford one? Pets make wonderful companions and teach us responsibility. They enrich our lives in many ways, from always being happy to see us to encouraging healthier habits like walking more. From lizards to Labradors, there are many kinds of pets that can offer us a rewarding experience.

However, getting a pet is a major financial decision. It is crucial to consider the cost of a pet before getting one. They deserve the best life they can have, so make sure you can properly care for your pet before they arrive in your house.

How Much Will They Cost?

First off, the cost of a pet varies drastically. According to Rover, yearly expenses for a dog could fall anywhere from $480 to $3,740. There are many factors that play a role in their cost, such as the type of pet, age, medical history, routine and care required. Dog food is more expensive than fish food; cats require regular purchases of litter to clean out their litter box, while dogs may need clean-up bags for walks. Sit down ahead of time and write out the expected costs of each area of care to understand what your pet will require and how much it will cost. Make sure to include both one-time purchases, such as a fish tank or dog bed, and recurring purchases, like food and grooming products.


It can be easy to overlook the true cost of a pet until they arrive. While you may anticipate some upfront purchases, you may not have anticipated needing to board them at a kennel for a week when you left town unexpectedly.

First, write down a list of upfront and recurring expenses. Here’s a sample list for a dog, but adapt this list to suit your pet. Try to consider potential unexpected expenses.

Upfront costs

  • Adoption fee or price
  • Leash and exercise equipment, such as a harness
  • Bed and transportation gear
  • Toys
  • Water and food bowls

Recurring, regular expenses

  • Veterinarian bills (look into pet insurance options)
  • Vaccinations, flea and tick prevention
  • Medications and supplements
  • Grooming supplies such as shampoo, brushes or professional groomer
  • Food and treats
  • Pet-specific household cleaning supplies
  • Lint rollers

Potential expenses

  • Large veterinarian bills for a medical emergency
  • Overnight stay at a kennel
  • Dog daycare
  • Dog walker
  • Household repairs if they cause damage
  • Additional rent if landlord requires it for a pet

This list is not exhaustive, as different dogs require different things. Other expenses may crop up that you didn’t plan.

Ways to Save

While the above list may seem daunting, remember that these expenses will not appear at the same time. With smart budgeting and saving, you can keep the financial cost of your pet low.

Comparing prices for goods has never been easier. In a matter of seconds, you can pull up different pet store websites and compare the costs of goods such as food and toys. Remember to factor in the size of the item into its price. For pet food, compare products based on the price per ounce or pound, instead of the total price. Keep an eye out for coupons and discounts, but take a close look at them; generic products may still be less expensive than a discounted brand-name product. Consider what areas you want to spend more money and others where you are fine spending less. If your pet has special dietary needs, then it may be nonnegotiable to invest in more expensive food. However, you may be comfortable buying secondhand or less expensive toys.

There are many options for obtaining good-condition secondhand items that will fulfill your pet’s needs without costing a fortune. If you have a friend, neighbor or coworker with pets, ask them if they have any gently-used items you could have, such as a leash or fish tank. You can also ask them if there are any particular stores they shop at for good deals. There are plenty of great ways to find inexpensive products online, such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Owners who are looking to upgrade their dog life jacket or cat tree means an opportunity for you. List out items you (or your pet) wouldn’t mind getting secondhand to save extra money for things that matter.

Taking That Next Step

Pets make wonderful companions, but they are a costly responsibility. Make an informed decision on whether or not a pet will fit into your lifestyle and budget. Pets bring so much joy into their owners’ lives; ensure that you can afford to keep them happy and healthy their whole lives.