The Cost of Pet Ownership



February 22, 2022

Well, in short, roughly $1,000 up front, and $500 annually! But don’t be scared off—pet expenses are highly variable and depend on how much you want to spoil them, how much they eat, how healthy they are, and more.

But at the same time, pet adoption coming with a price tag is a great way to prove out those who are not ready for the lofty commitment of pet ownership. Most pets live ten years or more, so counting the cost of adding a pet to your family to make sure it’s a sustainable move is wise. Read on for some estimates!    

Initial Costs

The cost of acquiring a pet to begin with can range from zero to thousands, depending on where you get them from. Between this and the other first-year costs, you could be looking at shoveling out a total of around $1,000 that year alone. Here’s how the website Money Under 30 breaks down the numbers:


Total one-time cost for a dog: $260-$1,780

Total one-time cost for a cat: $370-$1,440

Cats are usually cheaper because they’re more self-sufficient. You don’t need to pay a walker, and they’re smaller than most dogs, so they eat less food.

Annual Costs

Ongoing yearly costs for owning a pet are generally far less than initial start-up costs, but are still on average $500. Here’s a breakdown:


Total annual cost for a dog: $380-$1,170

Total annual cost for a cat: $430-$870

And these prices do tend to be higher in bigger cities than less metropolitan areas.

Bigger animals will have higher food costs because they eat more. They also need bigger doses of meds and cost more to crate, groom, and board.

Affordable pet insurance can make a big difference! The amount you’ll pay at the vet will vary wildly based on whether you have it or not. Without it, veterinary bills can quickly escalate into the thousands. If you don’t have it, it might be wise to establish an emergency fund of at least $1,000. Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of an ASPCA animal hospital in New York City, says, “Owners will likely incur at least one $2,000-$4,000 bill for emergency care at some point during their pet’s lifetime.” It’s estimated that you’ll spend $200 per year on your pet that you didn’t plan on. If that includes injury or hospitalization, you’ll be footing a bill of $500+.

Dog Breeds Prone to High Vet Bills

Be forewarned that some of the most beloved dog breeds can come with some of the highest vet bills. Here are the top five:


Other Unexpected Costs of Pet Ownership

Travel! If you’re going with your pet, you’ll have to factor in the cost of flying with an animal or having them in a hotel. If you’re leaving them behind, you’ll have to pay a sitter or a boarding facility.

And cleaning! If you’re a renter, you may have to pay a nonrefundable pet deposit or cleaning fee, take out a carpet cleaner occasionally, or at least invest in a lint roller.

Over a dog’s life, they’ll cost you $15,000, and that’s a conservative estimate! Each month, it will cost between $150 and $300 to responsibly care for your dog. If subtracting that amount from your monthly cash stream seems unrealistic, don’t do it yet. Getting a pet is not something to be taken lightly or done impulsively. Perhaps fostering pet in need until you can afford the costs of your own pet is a great place to start. But if it is realistic for you, take the leap! Dog insurance is a great way to mitigate veterinary costs and keep them from ballooning. And with Bivvy, age, size, sex, and breed don’t matter—all can be insured. According to Bivvy pet insurance reviews, pet parents like that Bivvy doesn’t charge expensive monthly premiums, and that at $15 per month or less, it’s affordable for college students and young professionals—perhaps those just starting out on their pet ownership journey. Will you join them?