Making the decision to bring a pet into your family is an easy decision...initially. But do you know how much those pets will cost you per year?
Pets are expensive and time-consuming. You have to consider whether you have the time and space a pet requires, but you also have to see if your wallet can flex to accommodate the cost of the pet you choose.
Luckily, there are pets for all lifestyles, and pets for all budgets.
I'll use my pets to give you a breakdown of costs per year, as an example of how much certain pets can cost. I will cover all the big costs that are relevant to each type of pet, but will leave out some costs like grooming, pet sitters, and basic accessories like leashes, collars, and harnesses.
Sammy the Chihuahua
Food: Sammy, my Chihuahua, goes through one 15-pound bag of food per month and each bag costs $15.
I've chosen a higher quality food for him, since he weighs less than 10 pounds and had difficulty eating when I first adopted him. That brings his food cost to $180 a year.
Vet Visits & Vaccines: A yearly check up is roughly $50, and is obviously important for pet health. His vaccines run about $30. His flea and tick medicine is $38 for four monthly doses, which brings that cost to $114 a year.
These totals don't account for any medical emergencies, which we haven't run into-- knock on wood! This brings his medical costs to $194 a year.
Licensing: Where we live, it is $16 a year for a dog license.
Treats: Since Chihuahuas are notoriously hard to housebreak, and he had no training when I adopted him at three years old, we are still doing a lot of treat training. He also gets bully sticks to keep his teeth in tip-top shape.
His treats and chews cost about $40 a year.
Toys: Of course he gets new toys as the old ones get worn beyond repair. Who am I kidding? Pooches get toys on the regular just because!
Toys cost me about $30 a year.
Pee Papers: A small dog still working on house training goes through one paper every couple of days. One package of 150 pee pads costs $32 and we go through two boxes a year.
That brings the pee paper cost to $64 a year.
Total: $524 a year
Duncan the Tuxedo Kitten
Food: Kittens eat more than adult cats, and Duncan is currently eating both wet and dry food multiple times a day. He goes through one 15-pound bag of food a month ($11.99 each) and one can of food a day ($1.30 a can).
This brings his yearly food cost to $619.
Vet Visits & Vaccines: Kittens require more shots and vet visits, and we adopted him from a home that did not take care of any of his initial vaccines or worming. Those vet visits cost roughly $100 per visit and there were three visits at eight weeks, 12 weeks, and 20 weeks.
Flea and tick medicine costs $35 for three monthly doses, which brings the yearly cost to $140. In roughly a month, he will be getting neutered which will cost roughly $200.
This brings his medical expenses to $640 this first year.
Cat Litter: Between daily cleaning and weekly full litter changes, a $10 container of litter lasts for a month.
This brings the litter cost to $120 a year.
Treats: Kittens don't need as many treats as a dog being house trained, but are helpful for positive reinforcement training.
Treats cost about $10 a year.
Toys: Keeping a kitten entertained and active requires a lot of toys. Most toys get lost under the fridge and because of that fact, I've found ways to make my own toys, to keep costs low.
I've spent about $50 on toys this year.
Total: $1,439 a year
*Note: because of the added vet visits, neutering and high food consumption of kittens, this year will be higher than others.
Tater the Bearded Dragon
Food: Tater is considered an "adult" at four years old, despite what her tantrums might lead you to believe when she doesn't want to eat her dinner. This means, as an adult, she consumes more vegetables than insects.
I am able to carve out a portion of the vegetables I already buy for bearded dragon meals. Her vegetables cost $5 per month or $60 a year. A container of 30 feeder insects costs $4 and she goes through about three containers per month. This brings the cost of bugs to $144.
The total cost to feed her per year is $204.
Bulbs and Heaters: Bearded dragons require UVB rays, and a spot to bask as well as an under tank heater. There are a variety of ways to meet these heat and lighting requirements with a variety of different bulbs and combinations. The method I choose is a combo bulb that covers both the heat and the UVB rays; the bulb is $80 and needs to be replaced once a year.
The under tank heater does not need to be replaced yearly if it is in good condition. If you choose a two-bulb system, the bulbs still cost between $80 and $100.
Total cost of bulbs is $80.
Substrate: For ease of cleaning and safety, I use paper towels for substrate for all reptiles. I go through six rolls a year cleaning Tater's tank and replacing the paper towels on the bottom. One pack of six rolls costs $8.
Total Cost: $292 a year
*Note: This does not include the initial set up costs which include the tank, decorations, and feeding supplements.
Gotham the Betta Fish
Food: One container of fish food lasts for over a year and costs $2.
Water Conditioner: Water conditioner lasts for over a year and costs $4.
Total Cost: $6 a year
As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when bringing a new pet into your family. Do you adopt a kitten and the heavy first year vet costs, or do you adopt a cat from a shelter that is a little older, and has all their shots and is already spayed/neutered?
While there are some costs that can't be cut (medical costs and vet visits), there are other costs that you can be mindful of by making your own toys and homemade treats. There are coupons for cat litter and you can buy feeder insects in bulk to offset the individual costs.
For every family and budget, there is a perfect pet! And the love they give us is priceless, really!