How Much Does it Cost to Own a Pet?


By: Steph Bairey

There is plenty of information out there about how to care for and train your pet. However, most leave out a very important factor: what it will cost! There's no doubt that owning an animal brings with it some serious bills. Shouldn't you know, before you buy, which animals you can afford to keep?

The estimates below are expressed in US Dollars and based on prices of food, accessories, and veterinary care in the Pacific Northwest, USA; your expenses may vary. However, they are excellent guidelines! This list covers dogs, cats, rodents, ferrets, fish, birds, amphibians, lizards, snakes, tarantulas, and crustaceans. For each, we discuss the initial cost (when you first buy the pet), and the maintenance cost (which you will pay year-round).

These are also minimum figures -- you can, and are likely to, pay much more for any pet. All animals need toys, bedding, and food, but pampering them with expensive pet beds, large cages or kennels, and an abundance or variety of treats, toys, and foods will increase the costs below considerably.

You might also be surprised to see that we've included veterinary costs for pets like frogs and tarantulas. However, it is essential that you budget for these examinations! No animal should be a "throw- away pet," and all should receive proper medical care. Illnesses and accidents are a part of life, and will occur. Even the healthiest pet needs annual vet exams, to catch potential health problems before they become serious (and more expensive to treat).

It's important to keep these figures in mind when checking out that cute little lizard in the pet store, on sale for only $5.99! Thousands of pet owners buy what they consider "cheap" pets, only to find out later that they are paying hundreds of dollars on habitat and care. You should also note that the costs listed here are purely money out of pocket, and do not include the amount of time you will need to spend training, cleaning, and interacting with your pet. Time is, after all, money.

DOGS

Initial cost: Bringing home a new puppy will cost you about $335. This includes $10 for puppy food, $150 for shots, $25 for sundries such as collar, lead, tag, and food dishes, $30 for toys, $20 for treats, $20 for grooming supplies, $30 for licensing, and $50 for the puppy itself.

Maintenance: Each year you will spend about $120 on dog food, $250 on vet bills, $15 on sundries such as collar, lead, and tag, $60 on toys, $130 on treats, $30 on licensing, $70 on medications like flea treatments or ear mite oil, and $55 on a short kennel stay, for an average of $730 per year, or $14 per week.

CATS

Initial cost: Bringing home a new kitten will cost you about $305. This includes $10 for cat food, $100 for shots, $7 for sundries such as collar and tag, $10 for toys, $5 for treats, $15 on grooming supplies, and $30 for the kitten itself.

Maintenance: Each year you will spend about $75 on cat food, $120 on vet bills, $10 on sundries such as collar and tag, $25 on toys, $25 on treats, $20 on grooming supplies, and $70 on medications like flea treatments or ear mite oil, for an average of $355 per year, or $7 per week.

RODENTS (includes rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs)

Initial cost: Bringing home a new rodent will cost you about $55. This includes $20 for a 10 gallon aquarium or small cage, $25 on cage accessories such as bedding and an exercise wheel, and $10 for the rodent itself.

Maintenance: Each year you will spend about $50 on food, $50 on vet bills, $45 on bedding, and $15 on sundries such as dishes and cage accessories, for an average of $160 per year, or $3 per week.

FERRETS

Initial cost: Bringing home a new ferret will cost you about $105. This includes $50 for an appropriate cage, $25 for cage accessories such as hammock and food dishes, and $30 for the ferret itself.

Maintenance: Each year you will spend about $100 on food, $150 on vet bills, $45 on bedding, and $15 on sundries such as dishes and cage accessories, for an average of $310 per year, or $6 per week.

FISH (includes freshwater and saltwater)

Initial cost: Bringing home a new fish will cost you at least $100. You can expect to pay $35 for a 10 gallon aquarium with hood and light fixture, $10 on a bulb, $10 on an automatic timer, and $25 on tank accessories like gravel and plants. The larger fish, like catfish and cichlids, will need at least a 40 gallon tank, which can cost about $200. Fish themselves run anywhere from $1 per goldfish to hundred of dollars for the more exotic species.

Maintenance: Each year you will spend about $65 on food, $35 on water treatment chemicals, $40 on medication, and $60 for equipment such as filters and cleaning supplies, for an average of $200 per year, or $4 per week.

BIRDS (includes parrots, cockatiels, budgies, and smaller birds)

Initial cost: Bringing home a new bird will cost you at least $350. This includes $50 for a small cage, $25 for cage accessories like food dishes and toys, $250 for the initial vet visit, and between $25 to $2,000 for the bird itself. The larger birds, like macaws and amazons, will need a cage that costs at least $300, and some people spend $2000 or more!

Maintenance: Each year you will spend about $300 on food, $350 on vet bills, $100 on toys and treats, and $20 on grooming supplies, for an average of $770 per year, or $15 per week.

AMPHIBIANS (includes frogs, toads, newts, and salamanders)

Initial cost: Bringing home a new amphibian will cost you about $110. This includes $20 for a 10 gallon aquarium, $20 for a light fixture, $10 for a bulb, $10 for an automatic timer, $15 for cage accessories like gravel, branches and plants, $5 for water treatment chemicals, $10 for cleaning equipment like brushes and nets, and $10 for the amphibian itself.

Maintenance: Each year you will spend about $50 on food, $50 on vet bills, $10 on cage accessories like plants and branches, $15 on water treatment chemicals, and $20 on lamp bulbs, for an average of $145 per year, or $3 per week.

LIZARDS (includes iguanas, monitors, bearded dragons, chameleons, uromastyx, anoles, skinks, and geckos)

Initial cost: Bringing home a new lizard will cost about 10 times the cost of the lizard itself, for a minimum of $100. For smaller lizards, you can expect to pay $20 for a 10 gallon aquarium, $50 on light fixtures and bulbs, $10 on an automatic timer, $25 on cage accessories like branches and plants, and a minimum of $10 for the lizard itself. The larger lizards, like iguanas, monitors, and water dragons will need a cage that costs at least $200, and some people spend $2000 or more.

Maintenance: Each year you will spend about $300 on food, $350 on vet bills, $10 on cage accessories like plants and branches, $20 on grooming supplies, and $60 on lamp bulbs, for an average of $745 per year, or $14 per week.

SNAKES (includes boa constrictors, pythons, corn snakes, king snakes, and others)

Initial cost: Bringing home a new snake will cost about 10 times the cost of the snake itself, for a minimum of $100. For smaller snakes, you can expect to pay $20 for a 10 gallon aquarium, $50 on light fixtures and bulbs, $10 on an automatic timer, $25 on cage accessories like branches and plants, and a minimum of $10 for the snake itself. The larger snakes, like boas and pythons, will need a cage that costs at least $200, and some people spend $2000 or more.

Maintenance: Each year you will spend about $300 on prey animals, $150 on vet bills, $10 on cage accessories like plants and branches, and $60 on lamp bulbs, for an average of $520 per year, or $10 per week.

TARANTULAS

Initial cost: Bringing home a new tarantula will cost about $95. You can expect to pay $20 for a 10 gallon aquarium, $20 on a light fixture, $10 on a bulb, $10 on an automatic timer, and $15 on cage accessories like substrate and hidey holes, and a minimum of $20 for the tarantula itself.

Maintenance: Each year you will spend about $50 on food, $20 on lamp bulbs, and $20 on cage accessories like substrate, for an average of $90 per year, or $2 per week.

CRUSTACEANS (includes hermit crabs and crayfish)

Initial cost: Bringing home a new crustacean will cost you about $93. You can expect to pay $20 for a 10 gallon aquarium, $25 for an undertank heater, $15 for thermometer and humidity gauges, $3 for a misting bottle, $25 for cage accessories like branches and gravel, and $5 for the for crustacean itself.

Maintenance: Each year you will spend about $30 on food, and $10 on cage accessories like branches and sand, for an average of $40 per year, or less than $1 per week.

Copyright 2001, Steph Bairey -- All Rights Reserved

Steph Bairey has 25 years of pet care experience and lives with 30-40 pets at any one time. Get immediate, reliable answers to your pet care questions at Steph's website, Practical Pet Care, located at http://www.practical-pet-care.com

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