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The True Cost of Owning a Pet



Almost 70% of U.S. households have a pet at home, with 60% of U.S. households having a dog and 47% of households having a cat. And there’s a good reason: our pets make us happier and healthier . Having a pet at home can improve self-esteem, physical fitness, and decrease loneliness. Plus, there’s pretty much nothing cuter than a newly adopted kitten or puppy.

But for all the positives of pet ownership, the costs can be overwhelming. As it turns out, 98% of pet owners seriously underestimated the cost of pet ownership. Excluding emergency and other serious vet procedures, the cost of taking care of a dog over the course of its lifetime ranges from $27,074 to $42,545. Thinking smaller?

The lifetime cost of owning a rabbit ranges between $12,893 and $19,338. Most of these costs end up concentrated at the start of adoption, when new pet owners pay for adoption fees , vaccinations, vet care, and the bulk of supplies, while the remaining costs are spread out over the animal’s lifespan and account for things like food, vet care, and supplies.

How Much Does a Dog Cost?


Dogs are one of the most popular and most expensive pets. Many people underestimate the initial cost of a new dog, whether you’re rescuing from a shelter or purchasing from a breeder.

The most obvious upfront cost is the adoption fee, which can range from the low, low price of $0 to thousands of dollars for a purebred dog. Most adoption fees, however, fall between $50 for an adult dog and $330 for a puppy. Of course, the true cost of owning a dog goes far beyond paying an adoption fee.

The upfront costs alone can seem staggering. At a minimum, your new best friend will need a collar and tags, a leash, dog food, a bed or crate, and a thorough vet exam to make sure he or she is healthy and happy.

Quality dog food alone can cost more than $50 a bag , and while some rescues include the price of shots and spay or neuter surgery in their adoption fees, some require that you pay out of pocket for Fido’s upfront medical care.

Of course, most people plan on buying more than just the bare minimum for their new dogs. Most new dog owners find that they need to make a significant investment in supplies. These costs include food and water bowls, doggy shampoo, urine-neutralizing cleaning products, plastic poop bags, a brush, nail clippers, and flea and tick repellants.

If you’re adopting a puppy, you may also need to invest in super-absorbent potty-training pads and baby gates while your new pal is being house trained. And of course, you can’t forget the toys. Dog owners spend on average $47 a year just on toys for Fido .

One other often overlooked cost is a pet deposit and pet rent. If you live in a rental, you may need to pay a hefty fee to your landlord or management company just to get permission for your new fur baby to come home.

Pet deposits can range from a small refundable charge intended to cover damage your pet might cause to your apartment, to hefty non-refundable fees. On top of a deposit, some landlords and apartment complexes charge monthly recurring “pet rent,” which is a non-refundable surcharge on your monthly rent costs.

How Much Does a Cat Cost?


While cats tend to be less expensive than dogs, there is still a significant upfront cost for adopting a new kitty. A cat can cost you between $21,917 to $30,942 over an average 15-year life.

Like dogs, many of a cat’s costs are concentrated at the front-end of ownership. You will likely need to pay an adoption fee and take your feline friend in for a vet check-up. You may also need to pay for spay or neuter surgery, yearly vaccines, and a rabies tag. Likewise, you’ll need to stock up on pet supplies to make sure your new addition is happy and healthy.

New cats need quality vet care, flea and tick remedies, a collar and tags, a litter box, a carrier, and some toys so you can get lots of cute videos of them going crazy for catnip. Many cat owners also choose to buy things like scratching posts, nail clippers, and combs or brushes, all of which can quickly add up.

How Much Is a Vet Visit?


Generally, the biggest cost of owning a pet is veterinary care, but how much is a vet visit in reality? The average cost of an office visit to your local vet is right around $50, although this varies by region (New Yorkers and San Franciscans, for example, can expect to pay more) and costs can likewise increase for specialty needs like surgeons, holistic vets, or emergency vet clinics. Americans spent a whopping $17.07 billion on vet care in 2017.

New pet owners often face hefty vet bills shortly after adoption. On top of getting your new friend spayed or neutered, they will need yearly vaccinations, rabies tags, and licenses.

Many newly adopted pets often need additional veterinary care for things like worms, fleas and ticks, and malnutrition. Tests, medications, and specialty care can drive up vet bills for new pets.

Affording a New Pet


The month to month costs of owning a pet are generally much lower than the upfront costs faced during the adoption process. The upfront costs of getting a pet can quickly climb to more than $5,000 when you factor in adoption fees, supplies, and vet care.

For this reason, new pet owners might plan on putting the upfront costs on a credit card and paying them off over time. The problem with credit cards, of course, is that high interest rates mean that you may end up paying way more than expected.

Once many people find the perfect pet they want to bring it into their family right away. If you don’t have the upfront costs right away, one alternative is applying for a personal loan to cover the pet adoption costs, from the actual adoption fee down to all the supplies and food you’ll need to get your new friend off to a great start.

Personal loans can have lower interest rates than credit cards and can help you spread the cost of adopting a pet out over time. SoFi offers personal loans for as little as $5,000, which can help you cover adoption and other pet costs.

Learn more about how SoFi personal loans can help you cover the cost of adopting your new best friend.

Learn More


The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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