Budgeting for a New Pet

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Download our checklists to get a better idea of what your furry new friend will cost.

Being greeted at the door by a tail-wagging joyous pup or the contented purr of an affectionate kitten—there’s nothing quite like the love of a pet. In addition to companionship and cuddles, studies suggest that having a furry friend around can even ease depression, lower stress, and keep you active.

But the joys of pet ownership come with a cost. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (more commonly known as the ASPCA) estimates that dog owners will spend at least between $10,000 and $14,000 over their pet’s lifespan (using a 12-year life expectancy), while the lifetime cost of a cat is estimated to be between $7,646 and $12,500 (using a 9- to 15-year average life expectancy)§.

Even just the cost of the first year can be daunting. You can spend thousands if you want a fashionable purebred dog or cat, plus hundreds more when accounting for spaying or neutering, and training. If your house is empty during the day or you travel frequently, you may need to factor in pet walkers, sitters, or boarding options.

Also, because the cost of treating a pet’s injury or illness can run into the thousands, it’s a good idea to build up emergency savings in order to be prepared for surprise medical issues, notes Amy Shojai, a certified animal behavior consultant and author of books on cat and dog care.

Estimating the expenses of your new pet the same way you would for any other goal that you save toward can help you plan for the financial commitment of pet ownership. These dog and cat checklists break down the potential estimated lifetime costs of pet ownership.

Are the numbers adding up to more than you can afford? Don’t worry. These strategies can help you ramp up your savings so you’ll have the funds you need to care for your new four-legged friend.

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Related Content

National Institutes of Health, “Psychosocial and Psychophysiological Effects of Human-Animal Interactions: The Possible Role of Oxytocin,” July 2012.

PetCoach, “How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?” 

§PetCoach, “How Much Does a Cat Cost?”

Interview with Amy Shojai.

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