There is a monetary cost to owning a pet, but there is also an emotional cost. Financial expenses are undoubtedly rising, but the emotional side is not quantifiable and remains constant. Thinking of acquiring a pet involves a balancing act between the two. A woman recently gave an acerbic response to her Facebook friends advising that her puppy’s annoying habits would soon disappear. She replied that she was pregnant, her house stank, and she couldn’t put up with it. There were, of course, several points made, but the bottom line is, why, with that attitude, have a pet at all? They cost food, bedding, and other needs, but they also require the owner’s time and consideration, commodities often in short supply in a busy life.

A study according to figures released by Statista showed that, in the US, over 48% of homes own more than one dog. This results in a staggering figure of around 90 million. This is more than the European Union and the UK’s combined estimates of 87.5 million. Cats account for only slightly lower numbers but significantly fewer expenses. According to the American Veterinary Medical Assoc., figures for birds, equines, and exotic pets suggest only about 4% of households keep these animals as pets. Companion animals are often viewed as family members, socially acceptable and desirable and even thought of as healing agents in illness or emotional trauma. So what’s the actual cost?

Sounds great to get a dog, puppy, or kitten from a rescue or adoption center. Not so easy. Even there, the would-be owner will likely face fees or be obliged to make a ‘donation’ to cover neutering and vaccination fees. A recognized breeder can charge anything from $400-$5000 for a puppy from a good line. The price of kittens will be less, but the outlay will not be insubstantial. What are the other expenses? Sadly, they are innumerable. Costs include vaccines, microchipping, bedding, collars, leashes, grooming aids, worming, and anti-parasitic preparations. Possibly training/boarding fees, crates, cages, catflaps – the list will take up your lunch break and beyond to read. Then there are the two big ones – food and veterinary bills for the lifetime of your pet(s).

To break down the costs, food prices are highly variable depending on size, age, type of pet, and the preferences of owners, e.g., dried or wet food, organic or raw. The American Kennel Club suggests anything from $120-$900 for a dog, with cats somewhere between $340 a year. For yearly vaccinations, the AKC advises $87.50+ $20 for rabies and cat’s leukemia jabs at $37. Veterinary fees generally can go off the scale and need to be planned for or insured against, adding another $30-$50 per month. In all, the AKC quotes Forbes on the costs of lifetime pet ownership at between $17,650 and $90,000+ (allowing for life expectancy).

Frightening figures, but there are certainly ways of reducing expenses, and the benefits that results are almost always worth budgeting.