According to pet adoption statistics, over six million pets in shelters are waiting to find their forever homes. Are you ready to become a pet parent? Being a pet parent comes with a lot of responsibilities. Not only are you responsible for ensuring your dog or cat eats a healthy diet and gets tons of exercise, but they require attention and affection.
What many first-time pet parents fail to realize is that dogs and cats come with financial responsibilities. They're expensive, and if you don't have the money to care for them, you won't be able to ensure their health and take them to the vet to treat everything from minor aches and pains to severe underlying health issues. When you adopt a dog or cat, you're signing on for a lifetime of love and financial responsibility. An average US pet owner spends about $1,480 on their dog and $902 on their cat every year. Of these costs, pet parents spend the most on vet visits, food, and boarding.1
There are over 90.5 million pets in homes, with Americans spending $124 billion in total on their pets in 2021, with the average dog owner spending $123 per month on their dogs and cat owners spending $75 per month.1 If you're considering adopting a pet or buying one from a breeder, you should be prepared by knowing the pet expenses you'll incur over time.
Use our calculator to estimate the annual and upfront costs of owning a pet. To switch between dog and cat calculations, simply toggle the dog and cat function at the top of the calculator. Use the information icons to help you estimate costs and interpret calculations.
How To Use Our Pet Costs Calculator
- Toggle the button at the top of the calculator to estimate costs for your dog or cat.
- Use the information icons to learn more about the category or average costs.
- Click the “Calculate” button at the bottom of the calculator to receive your results:
- a. The annual Ongoing Costs will populate in Section 1
- b. The Upfront Costs will populate in Section 2
Ongoing Costs Of Pet Ownership
While the first year of pet ownership is usually the most expensive because you need to ensure your pet has everything they need, you can expect ongoing pet costs throughout the rest of their lives, including:
Pet insurance can help you pay for emergencies and medical procedures if your dog is injured or becomes ill. Pet insurance policies vary depending on the type of coverage you need and if your dog has an underlying illness. However, on average, pet insurance costs dog owners $45 per month and cat owners $19 per month.2
While pet insurance can be costly, it offers important protection for you and your pet. Plus, with a pet insurance policy, pet parents can save thousands on treatments and emergency expenses. And with Dutch, insurance doesn’t have to be a burden, financially, or otherwise.
In addition to our subscription-based pet care options, Dutch is the first of its kind to offer emergency insurance coverage in tandem with our remote vet services, ensuring your pet is cared for in emergency and non-emergency situations. Our Protector plan covers in-person vet costs for your pet in case they’re in a car accident, become injured, eat something toxic, or get bitten by another animal, among other scenarios.
Routine Vet Visits
Routine vet visits are necessary if you want to ensure your pet's health. Not only can you get them caught up on their vaccinations, but you can protect them against heartworm and fleas, and ticks. In addition, every dog and cat should have an annual wellness exam where a vet examines their health, including listening to their heart, taking their blood, and running various tests.
At these visits, you'll pay to see the vet and have other various services performed. Routine medical costs, including wellness visits and exams, can cost dog parents between $178 and $242 per year.1 Not to mention surgical visits which can exceed $400 per year. Heartworm medication typically costs around $15 per month, and flea and tick control can be expensive, depending on the type.3
Emergency Issues & Incidentals
Emergencies happen, and these costs cannot be predicted. Pets can accidentally swallow or ingest something they shouldn't have, or they can get GI symptoms for what seems like no reason at all. When you're worried about your dog or cat, you'll take them to the vet, sometimes after hours. These after-hours visits can be expensive, costing hundreds of dollars.
Although you can’t truly anticipate the emergency costs of pet ownership, you can prepare with Dutch. Pet parents not only save on pet care with subscriptions starting at just $15 per month, but get peace of mind with unlimited vet visits and follow ups, plus, call availability outside of regular vet hours. In fact, 69% of our calls are conducted outside of the standard clinic hours.
With Dutch’s Annual + Insurance plan, you can prepare for emergency expenses and gain peace of mind knowing your pet is cared for in the event of an accident.
Grooming is important for some dogs, but other dogs don't require professional services and can get a bath at home. However, some dogs have long fur that needs to be properly managed by you or a professional grooming service. Grooming, including bathing, haircuts, and toenail trimmings, can range in price but typically cost between $30 to $90 for dogs and $30 to $70 for cats. However, you can save money by learning how to bathe your pets and trim their nails at home.
All pets need to eat! However, there are several pet foods to choose from, and some brands are more expensive than others. Ultimately, you have high, middle, and low-tier options. High-tier options are the most expensive, but they're usually made with the best ingredients to promote your pet's health. Large dogs are more expensive to feed than small dogs because they require more food, so it's difficult to estimate how much food will cost you throughout your dog's life. High-tier foods will typically cost around $36 per month for dogs and $27 per month for cats, while lower-tier foods will cost around $30 per month for dogs.4
Toys & Supplies
Mental stimulation is just as important for pets as physical exercise, so your dog or cat should have toys to play with. You should also invest in high-quality treats for training or for use in treat-dispensing toys to keep them engaged in various activities. Pet owners spend anywhere from $5-50 per month on toys alone.5
If you live in a rental, you may need to pay pet rent on top of your pet deposit. While your pet deposit is a one-time fee, your pet rent is a monthly fee associated with owning a pet while living in a rental. Pet rent is typically cheap but varies by the landlord. If you want to know how much your pet rent will be, you can check your lease or contact your leasing office.
Dog costs are slightly different from cat costs because they have different needs. Cats can get their necessary exercise indoors, but dogs are another story. Dogs should have at least thirty minutes of exercise a day in the form of walks, and some dogs may need even more than that, depending on their breed. Additionally, dogs should never go more than 6 to 8 hours without being able to relieve themselves outside.
The cost of a dog walker depends on how many days per month you'll need someone else to walk your dog. For example, if you work full-time, you may need someone to walk your dog in the afternoon every day, Monday through Friday. Dog walkers typically cost around $20 to $40 per hour or $10 to $40 per walk.6
If you plan to go on a vacation or have to leave home for a few days, your pet will most likely be boarded. Cats can be left alone for a few days as long as they have a clean litter box and access to food and water. However, dogs should never be left alone for long periods because they need frequent trips outside for potty breaks.
The cost of boarding depends on how many days per month you'll need to board your dog and where you'll board them. If you board them at a vet's office that offers this service, you'll pay less than you would at a fancy doggy daycare facility. It typically costs pet owners $228 to board their dogs and $78 to board their cats per year. However, hiring a pet sitter can save on the cost of boarding.7
Upfront Costs Of Pet Ownership
The first year of pet ownership is typically the most expensive because there are a lot of initial and one-time pet costs.
Vaccinations prevent your pet from getting sick, and many vaccinations are required by cities throughout the U.S. Depending on where you adopt your dog from, the shelter might handle some of their initial vaccines, but it’s important to consider the potential costs you may incur as a pet owner. Common vaccines dogs should get include:
Dogs will continue to need these vaccines throughout their lives. The average cost of vaccinating a dog is between $75 and $100, and for a cat is between $65 and $110.8 Of course, vaccination fees may also depend on your vet and geographic location.
Neutering & Spaying
Neutering and spaying are important to prevent dogs and cats from procreating, potentially putting more animals on the streets or in shelters. There simply aren't enough homes for the animals we have in shelters as it is, so neutering and spaying your pets is important to prevent further animal suffering.
The costs of spaying a dog ranges between $200 and $500 but are typically much cheaper for cats, costing around $300 or less.1
If you adopt a pet that has already been neutered or spayed, such as one that has been abandoned by their previous owners, you won't have to pay this cost. In addition, some shelters cover neutering and spaying in their adoption fees, so if you adopt a dog from a rescue, they should already be neutered.
Microchip & ID Tag
If your dog or cat ever gets lost, you want to find them as easily as possible. The easiest way to help someone identify your pet is by getting them an ID tag for their collar. These tags have their name and contact information, typically a phone number, if your pet gets lost or found by someone else. Another way to help your dog get found is with a microchip, which carries an ID number. If your dog has a microchip and someone finds them, they can be taken to a vet to have the microchip read and returned safely to you.
Pet IDs are cheap; you can get them at any pet store or online. Microchipping is a little more expensive, ranging between $40 and $50 for both dogs and cats.1
All dogs should receive some training as soon as possible. However, the type of training depends on your preferences. Some people simply want their dogs to learn the basic commands and focus on crate training, so they invest in obedience training. In contrast, others invest in therapy dog training to get their dog certified as a therapy dog, depending on their needs. There are also several ways to invest in training, including:
- Training classes
- Hiring a personal trainer
- Buying books and training your dog yourself
Experienced dog owners should already know how to teach their dogs basic commands, but first-time pet parents may benefit from taking a class to ensure they can properly train their dogs without having to learn from trial and error. If you're looking for a dog that's easy to train, check out our list of best dog breeds for first-time owners.
On the other hand, cats are much easier to train. You may simply have to invest your time and energy into litter box training. However, if you're looking for something a little more engaging, you can teach your cat tricks.
The adoption fee is a one-time fee you pay to adopt your dog from a shelter or rescue. These organizations use the adoption fees to cover several costs, including medical treatments, food, toys, and everything else a cat or dog would ever need in a shelter.
Costs of adopting a dog versus a cat vary depending on your location, medical expenses, the dog's age, and time of year. For example, areas with higher costs of living have higher adoption fees, and puppies are usually more expensive than adult dogs.
The average adoption fee ranges from $129 to $767 for puppies and dogs and $39 to $317 for kittens and cats.9 Dogs are usually more expensive than cats.
Before you bring a pet home, you should have their equipment ready for them. You don't want to bring a dog home only to realize you don't have a leash or collar for them to take them on walks. Always have basic dog equipment, such as leashes, collars, harnesses, and crates, ready for when you adopt a new dog. For cats, collars, toys, and equipment such as a cat tree, litter, and litter box are essential.
The cost for these supplies ranges, but you can get quality products with basically any budget. Leashes and collars are relatively inexpensive. However, crates can be expensive, depending on the size and what type of crate you want. For example, standard metal crates are more affordable than wood crates that double as coffee tables.
If you live in a rental and your landlord allows pets, you'll likely have to pay a pet deposit to cover damages to the property caused by your pet. While we'd all like to believe our pets would never misbehave, they sometimes do. Most cats thrive in apartments, but the best dogs for apartments vary depending on your home's size and the dog's temperament. If you live in a rental, you'll need to select the type of pet you get wisely.
Puppies being house-trained will have tons of accidents indoors, and cats may scratch furniture and the walls, so your pet deposit will cover any damages your pet causes to your rental. Unfortunately, pet deposits are typically non-refundable, so you usually won't get this money back when you move out.
Pet deposits vary by the landlord, so check your lease to determine how much you'll have to pay if you want to adopt a dog while living in an apartment or rental home.
How To Calculate The Costs Of Owning A Pet
Now that you know the cost of owning a pet, you can start to estimate how much becoming a dog or cat parent will cost you. Our calculator lists many of the various costs you'll come across after adopting a dog or cat, including first-time and recurring costs, ranging from vaccinations to toys and various services.
Of course, the true costs of pet ownership vary depending on your individual pet and circumstances like your geographic location, lifestyle, and financial priorities.
Dutch Saves Pet Parents Time, Money & Energy
Pet ownership is expensive, but you can reduce your costs without sacrificing support for your pet. Dutch offers pet parents convenience and cost savings with a telemedicine for pet platform that makes it easy to get excellent and affordable care at a moment’s notice.
With Dutch, monthly subscriptions start at just $15 to get pet care whenever you need it. Dutch's non-emergency pet care can help diagnose and treat minor illnesses, including fleas and ticks, itchy skin, allergies, and even behavioral problems from the comfort of your own home. Plus, our emergency insurance options cover in-person vet costs for your pet due to emergencies and incidentals, such as a car accident, eating something toxic, breaking a bone, or incurring an animal bite.
With Dutch, you'll never have to guess how much a vet visit will cost you. Our transparent pricing model allows you to choose between a monthly or yearly subscription with as many follow-up appointments as needed to ensure your pet's treatment is successful.