The Bottom Line: True Costs of Owning a Pet

The fact that you’re reading this before you take on the responsibility of a pet is a good sign that you'll likely be a responsible pet owner. But is now the right time in your life to have a pet?

Caring for an animal involves much more than providing a home, food, and water. You also have to make time to exercise, train, play with, and groom your pet. In addition, pet ownership involves a lot of money. According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), you will spend an estimated $1,580 on a medium-size dog in the first year, and $1,035 on a cat! So, before you bring a pet into your apartment or house, estimate your expenses on the  Pet Expenses Worksheet and decide if the pet will fit in your budget.

After costs, consider your living space:

  • Does it provide a safe place for a pet?
  • If you're thinking of a dog, is there a fence and shelter for when your dog is outside?
  • If you have roommates, do they want a pet, too? Are any of them allergic to animals?
  • Does your landlord allow pets where you’re renting? Are you permitted to keep pets in your residence hall?
  • If your landlord does allow pets, is there a pet deposit? He or she may require you to pay a monthly or one-time fee that is usually nonrefundable and can range from $50 to $500 total.

Finally, think long term. Make sure you are prepared for any unforeseen medical issues your pet may experience over his or her lifetime. And know how long your pet might live: Dogs can live from 10 to 15 years, and cats even longer. Will you have a place in your life to care for an animal for that span of time?

For more information on the costs of pet ownership, visit the ASPCA website .

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