How Much Do Pets Really Cost


Providing for a pet can be expensive. If your child is begging for a lovable critter of his or her own, consult this guide to find out what type of pet is the best fit for your household’s budget.

Adding a Pet to the Family

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We love pets, but the playing field changes once there’s a little kid at home asking (nay, begging) for a cute creature to call her own.

Sixty-two percent of U.S. households—72.9 million homes—have a pet, according to the 2011-2012 American Pet Product Association’s National Pet Owners Survey.

All the more reason your kid will want one. (“But, Mom! Brian just got an awesome turtle!”)

Once you’ve made the decision to start a menagerie, be sure to consider all your options—and how much each animal is likely to cost you.

Here’s what you can expect to spend per year on a dog, cat, fish, bird, small animal or reptile, based on what pet owners spent in 2011.


Dog: $43

Cat: $21

Freshwater fish: $25

Bird: $98

Dog: $254

Cat: $220

Freshwater fish: $25

Bird: $99

Small animal*: $81

Reptile: $78

* Includes chinchilla, ferret, gerbil, guinea pig, hamster, Hermit crab, mouse/rat, pot-bellied pig, prairie dog and rabbits.

Groomer/Grooming Aids (Including Test Kits for Fish)
Dog: $73

Cat: $34

Freshwater fish: $15

Bird: $37

Small animal: $27

Dog: $274

Cat: $166

Other Supplies
Dog: $66

Cat: $69

Freshwater fish: $32

Small animal: $80

Reptile: $78

Vet Visits
Dog: $248

Cat: $219

Bird: $117

Small animal: $147

Reptile: $97

Travel Expense
Dog: $78

Cat: $48

Dog: $95

Cat: $43

Bird: $24

Total Cost Per Year
Dog: $1,131

Cat: $820

Freshwater fish: $98

Bird: $375

Small animal: $335

Reptile: $253

These numbers include the basics like food, but some pets will come with more additional expenses than others (dog walkers, crates, pet insurance, etc.), especially when the unexpected crops up.

That said, having a pet comes down to a lot more than numbers, and it can be a great way to help teach your kid about responsibility: to learn to love, be loved and know that her actions affect others.

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