How Much Will Your Pet Cost You Throughout its Life? A Large Survey Provides an Estimate

Americans are pretty attached to our pets, with a furry friend present in an estimated 70% of households across the country. We do want the best for them, so costs can pile up. Between quality food, toys, treats, supplies, veterinary care, and pet-sitting or kenneling when we’re out of town, we can find ourselves facing more expenses than we thought. According to a new survey, a large share of pet owners aren’t quite prepared for these costs.

Synchrony, a company that provides credit card and insurance products to pet owners, recently released its Lifetime of Care survey. After polling 1,200 pet owners and 100 veterinarians, they learned that it costs between $20,000 and $55,000 to care for a dog throughout its life, while cats cost between $15,000 and $46,000. However, nearly half of pet parents say they underestimated these costs.


Jonathan Wainberg, senior vice president and general manager at Synchrony, says, “Millions of Americans choose to share life with a pet, yet the true cost of ownership has historically been incredibly vague. Our Lifetime of Care study serves as a helpful tool to prepare prospective pet parents. We want pet parents to have a deeper understanding of what to expect financially.”

The survey notes that 45% of dog owners had thought they were financially prepared for their pooch, but it turned out that they weren’t. For cat owners, that figure was 38%. One quarter of respondents also said that a $250 unexpected expense was a problem. Among these unexpected expenses that caused worry were their pet needing surgery, an emergency room visit, an unplanned vet visit, or their animal being in an accident.


Of course, if the survey is anything to go by, pet parents are willing to pay what it takes, as 70% of respondents feel that their pet is part of the family. If you’re of a similar mind and want to ensure that you have all your bases covered for your furry friend, the survey says this is about what you can expect.

Initial Expenses

If you’re planning to bring home a new furry friend, there are quite a few upfront costs for which you should be prepared. Between adoption fees, licensing, microchipping, and related costs, the survey found dogs can cost between $500 and $900. For cats, that’s about $300 to $750. If your pet wasn’t spayed or neutered when you adopted them, it’s important to get that done, as well. For cats, the procedure can run between $50 to $100, but for dogs, it’s about $85 to $400.


Year-to-Year Expenses

So after you’ve gotten all settled in with your new pet, how much should you expect to spend on them each year? For dogs, the lower end is estimated at about $1,300 but could be as high as $2,800. Cats are a little more affordable, with costs ranging from just under $1,000 to $2,500. For both animals, food and veterinary care take up the highest chunk of the budget, but treats, toys, and various supplies are substantial, as well. For dogs, you can add in grooming. It’s important to keep all of this in mind when you bring home a new pet.


End of Life

It’s a sad fact that our furry friends don’t live forever, as much as we may wish they could. We all want to make sure their transition over the Rainbow Bridge is as comfortable as it can be. The survey estimates that procuring these services can cost between $300 and $400 for both dogs and cats.

Ensuring Your Pet Has All They Need

If you find yourself struggling with any of these costs, the Humane Society has a few tips. Check around your community to see which rescues may offer a pet food pantry, see if any local veterinarians offer discounts on spaying and neutering, and ask your veterinarian if they could put you on a payment plan for those unexpected surgeries. You can also consider being proactive and obtaining pet insurance if you feel it will offer some peace of mind.

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