Dog and cat at home

Financial Aspects of Pet Ownership

Can you afford a pet?


Having a pet is wonderful, but there are costs involved that you need to consider. A pet can lighten your wallet right from the start, buying all the necessary equipment your pet will need. Then there will be monthly costs for ongoing food and equipment, regular veterinary costs, and unpredictable expenses such as medical treatment.

If you have not yet thought about the costs of having a pet, you should have a realistic look at your finances before you make a decision. Of course, costs will vary depending on the pet you choose and other factors. Nevertheless, your pet will cost money, and you should always be confident that you have taken these costs onboard and can afford to meet the needs of your animal companion.

Owning a pet is not a short-term commitment – some of our companions have a long lifespan, which allows for many years of enjoyment, but also expense so it is important to consider the long-term costs as well as the short-term ones.

This article is part of the Responsible Pet Ownership series

Typical lifespans of popular pets: 

Dog, cat, mouse

Big dog: 10-13 years | Small dog: 12-15 years | Cat: 12-15 years | 
Rabbit: 8-12 years | Guinea pig: 4-8 years | Pet rat/mouse: 2-3 years

How much does a dog cost?

You need to consider two aspects: one the initial cost, which might include adoption fee or price of the dog, a dog bed and toys, leash, and collar, micro-chip among other things you need for you dog. 

Secondly the ongoing ‘running’ costs, such as annual vet checks, vaccinations, treatment to prevent parasites, food, pet treats, training sessions, grooming, pet insurance, and so on. Some of your pet’s accessories will also need to be renewed over time.

Is the dog you acquire already neutered? If not, neutering costs need to be considered. If you want to go on vacation, you need to find a dog hotel/kennels or dog sitter, which might be expensive. In some countries it is also mandatory to have insurance for damages if you own a dog - even it is not mandatory this is a sensible investment. 

Every dog brings different financial implications depending on its size, age, and health status. Veterinary care can cost a huge amount, and while sometimes a one-off occurrence, often there is the possibility of ongoing costly medical treatment - your pet might become chronically ill, need long-term medication or an operation.

How much does a cat cost?

For a cat there is of course the initial cost of buying the necessary items that the cat needs. This will probably include food and water bowls, scratching post, litterbox, cat bed/basket, and toys. Once you have your cat all settled in there are various running costs to be considered. These include annual veterinary care including health checks, vaccinations, and treatment to prevent parasites. Food and cat litter also need to be taken into the calculation, as well as pet insurance.  

Then there are the occasional costs, which will differ for each individual pet owner and cat but may include holiday care and emergency vet care if the cat gets ill. Additionally, if your cat is not neutered or microchipped this needs to be done.

How much do small mammals (guinea pigs and rabbits) cost?

First of all, for small mammals such as guinea pigs and rabbits you must always consider the cost of at least two animals. These pets are social animals and suffer when they are kept in isolation. Setting up the housing for two guinea pigs or two rabbits depends a lot on how you want to structure the enclosure. Building an outdoor enclosure does cost more than an indoor one, but your pets will thank you for the additional investment. As well as the enclosure itself, small mammals need a number of little houses for shelter, as well as food and water bowls, and hay rack. It is not recommended to keep these animals in the small cages that are available in pet stores, but rather to offer them plenty of room and variety.

Rabbits require vaccinations twice a year, and both rabbits and guinea pigs need regular veterinary health checks, trimming of nails, and – particularly if they don’t get the right nutrition - they may need frequent dental work. This can be helped by offering hay as the basis of their diet as it provides natural dental care. Running costs also include a constant supply of vegetables and greens, and clean bedding.

Other miscellaneous costs may include holiday care, and additional emergency veterinary costs. Even though these animals are small, such costs must be considered.

Do you feel Ready to take care of a Pet?

Find out more: How to become a responsible pet owner 

Why do you want to have a pet?

Discover the motivations behind pet ownership HERE!

What pet best suits my lifestyle?

To help you best pet for your lifestyle and preferences, FOUR PAWS has created this quiz, to give you an insight into what pet might be perfect for you. Find out more HERE!

Test yourself with our '30-day challenge'

To get a glimpse of what it might be like to have a pet in your life, we challenge you to take on a 30-day test run of pet ownership, to ‘try before you buy’. Your challenge, should you wish to accept it...

Where should you purchase your pet from? 

There are many ways where you can acquire a pet, make sure that you find the best solution for yourself and one where the animal’s welfare is put first. Read more HERE!

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