Here’s How Much It Actually Costs To Own A Pet (It’s Way More Than You’d Think)

MPs Enter Their Pets Into The Westminster Dog Of the Year Competition
Getty Images | Leon Neal

Everyone knows owning a pet isn’t cheap. Even on days when adoption fees for many dogs and cats are waived (such as Clear the Shelters Day), vet visits, food and everything else add up. But do you know how much pet costs really amount to? A new study says it can be up to $42,000 for one pet. Woof.

We Underestimate Pet Costs

According to data released from the UK-based People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, pet owners significantly underestimate the lifetime cost of a dog or cat. Roughly 98 percent of pet owners polled drastically underestimated the cost of ownership—12 percent of people surveyed expected only to pay $644.

A majority of owners expected costs would not be more than $6,445. But owning a dog or a cat over its lifetime (about 10 years), is far more than that conservative sum.

Lifetime Costs Add Up

Even if you don’t have any expensive vet visits (and reasonably, you’ll have at least one), the likely cost of having a dog falls between $27,074 and $42,545, depending on the breed, according to the PDSA.

This number takes into account everything from the cost of spaying or neutering and vaccinations, to lifetime costs of food, grooming and toys.

Getty Images | Tim Boyle

It’s slightly less expensive to own a cat, according to the data, but still costs a lot more than most pet owners expect. Taking into account the same expenses over a cat’s lifetime (and keep in mind that cats can live to be up to 20 years old, though most live to around 15), plus cat litter, the cost falls in the range of $21,917 to $30,942.

This is a significant chunk of change by anyone’s standards, and when you consider that emergency pet surgeries can be in the realm of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, that quickly becomes unfeasible for most families.

Is Pet Insurance Right For You?

That’s why many veterinarians and rescue shelters recommend purchasing pet insurance. Most premiums are only around $25 a month, and they can save you a lot of money if something goes horribly wrong. That being said, if your pet stays healthy, that’s thousands more dollars added to all of the other costs of ownership.

So what’s the takeaway from all of this? Don’t get a pet unless you can really afford to take care of it. Keep some money for a rainy day, just like you would for yourself and your home expenses.

Nobody wants to have to give up a dog because pet food gets too expensive. So think ahead! And remember that most cats prefer a paper bag over an expensive toy. That should cut costs significantly.

Getty Images | Mario Tama

About the Author

Jessica Suss

An aspiring food and health writer, native Chicagoan, and nut butter enthusiast. Jessica is also the creator of BiteMeBlog, but don't call her a foodie More.

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