Personal Finance

Thinking About Adopting a Pet? Here's How Much It Typically Costs to Own a Dog Or Cat

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Americans collectively spent $103.6 billion on their pets in 2020, an increase from the $97.1 billion they spent on pets in 2019, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Of that nearly $104 billion, $42 billion went toward food and treats, $22.1 billion went to supplies like over the counter medicine and $31.4 billion was spent on vet care and pet products.

Pet services, including boarding, grooming, insurance, training, pet sitting and walking, made up the remaining $8.1 billion.

So how much does that come down to for an individual pet owner? If you're thinking about adopting a pet like a cat or dog, expect to spend between $1,100 and $3,200 during the first year, the ASPCA estimates. That includes the adoption fee, the cost of spaying or neutering your pet (if it wasn’t already done by the welfare organization), food, vaccinations, supplies, bedding and crates.

“First-year fees are often quite high because you are buying all the things you need and over time there are less of those things that pop up,” says Christa Chadwick, vice president of shelter services at the ASPCA.

The average adoption fee for cats less a year old was $82 last year, while the average fee for cats older than one year was $52. For dogs less than a year old, the average adoption fee was $185. And for dogs older than a year, the average fee was $109, according to data from PetPoint.

After that, you should be prepared to spend anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 on your pet per year, New Jersey-based certified financial planner Eve Kaplan estimates, based on years of working with clients who own pets.

In addition to things like food and grooming, annual costs include physical exams and vaccines. You should also be prepared for unplanned veterinary costs over your pet’s lifetime. "All you need to have is one or two medical crises and all of a sudden that budget is blown up and you are spending $5,000 or $10,000 or more in veterinary bills," Kaplan says.

Kaplan advises pet owners and potential pet owners to factor pet costs into their emergency cash fund. Depending on how expensive the products you chose are, you should be saving six months worth of pet costs in your emergency fund.

And keep in mind that adopting a pet means committing to caring for it for years to come. “Cats and dogs are generally with you for upwards of 10 or more years and sometimes at the point of adoption folks aren’t considering that long-term investment,” says Chadwick.

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