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Planning for a family pet: How much will it really cost you?

Maybe your kids have been nagging you for quite some time to let them get a kitten. Or you just moved into your first house, and its fenced-in yard is calling you to adopt a dog. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, you’re in good company. According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet. But with veterinary visits, supplies and ongoing care, how much does it cost to get a pet?

There are initial expenses that come with a new pet, especially if it’s your first. Then, through the course of the pet’s life, you’ll need to cover food, care and other expenses. Below is a breakdown of the costs based on information from Petfinder, the ASPCA and PetMD. Of course, costs will vary depending on the type of pet, their breed and size and other factors, so we’ve listed everything in ranges.

One-time expenses.

Whether you adopt from an animal shelter or purchase from a breeder, initial fees can range from around $30 up to a few thousand dollars for certain breeds. If you adopt your pet from a shelter, a checkup, vaccinations, a microchip and spaying or neutering may be included in the adoption fee. You can also keep an eye out for adoption promotions that lower the price. Otherwise, you can likely expect these initial costs:

  • Wellness exam and vaccinations: $70–$130
  • Spaying or neutering: $145–$200
  • Microchip: $75–$150
  • Collar and leash: $16–$100
  • Bed and crate: $25–$250
  • Food and water bowls: $10–$50
  • Litterbox for cats: $25 

Ongoing expenses.
Once Roscoe or Whiskers is home, there are still some expenses you’ll have to cover over time. These expenses should be included in your yearly budget for as long as you own your pet. Keep in mind that costs can vary depending on your pet, your lifestyle and personal preferences. 

The essentials:
  • Food: $120–$500
  • Toys: $25–$60
  • Veterinary care (annual checkups, vaccinations, medications): $160–$250
  • Pet license: $15
  • Cat litter: $165
Estimated total for the year: $485–$990

The extras:
  • Grooming: $10–$30 per visit
  • Pet sitting/day care: $15 and up, per day
  • Boarding fees: $20 and up, per day
  • Training fees: $110 

Medical expenses.
Medical costs will likely be your pet’s largest expense — and the most unpredictable. You may want to consider establishing a pet emergency fund to help cover unexpected medical bills. To help prevent medical issues in the long run, be sure to keep your pet healthy by scheduling regular checkups, feeding them high-quality food, having fresh water available and giving them plenty of exercise.

While a pet can bring additional expenses to your family budget, the benefits of pet ownership are priceless, offering companionship, lower stress levels and even an opportunity to teach kids about responsibility. By preparing for the costs now, you can enjoy all the fun having a pet brings and focus on building memories with your new furry family member. 

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