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Cost Of Getting A Dog or Cat

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Cute PuppyMy girlfriend and I have been briefly discussing getting a pet, either a dog or a cat, and she was warning me that the “acquisition” costs can run into the hundreds depending on where we go for a pet. She’s leaning towards the shelter because the pictures of the dogs and cats at the library make her, and me, sad and so I think it’s time for me to fully understand how much it costs just to get a new pet. As a kid, we never had pets because my parents didn’t want to deal with all the hassle. The hassle of walking a dog, or cleaning up after a pet, or teaching it to not rip everything up, and most importantly, dealing with crying kids whenever the pet died. The most we ever had were fish that had lifespans of a few weeks before my sister managed to kill it by petting it. (just kidding!)

Since right now I’m just looking at the acquisition cost, it’s boiled down into several major categories: Purchase Price, Spaying/Neutering Costs, Immunization/Misc. Shots and I suppose food.

Purchase Price: I think our best option is to visit the local shelter and see if there is one we like. With this option we’ll have to shell out a hundred or so dollars. I don’t really see myself forking over $1,000 just to get the pet of my dreams when there are so many worthy pets waiting for homes in the shelter.

Spaying/Neutering Costs: Psychologically I don’t like the idea, maybe it’s an issue of transference, but my girlfriend says it’s a healthy thing to do. This procedure can run about $50 to $100.

Immunization/Misc. Shots: “They” say that a visit to the vet and the first shots (which may be handled by the shelter, I have no idea) can run somewhere between $75 to $100. There are also annual shots and tags that will be around $50-$100 a visit.

Food: $4-$10/wk on food, not a big deal.

So all told, the actual acquisition costs can run anywhere from $225 to $300 or so. Does that sound right? Am I missing anything (we’re just talking acquisition costs now)?

(Photo: klash)

{ 29 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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29 Responses to “Cost Of Getting A Dog or Cat”

  1. Perry says:

    I got my Cat from a friend, who’s cat had kittens and she was free. Then I went to the local SPCA to get a coupon to get a discount for spaying her. It came out to be about 75 bucks with anesthesia. Sometimes even going to the pound will cost a lot more money and you dont get a puppy or a kitten. Puppy? That’s a whole other post! Don’f forget litter for a cat, litter box, litter box liners, and declawing (i dont believe in it) so a scratching post is in order. And some time out of your day to play with him/her. Mostly, time is the most expensive, but may also be the most rewarding.

  2. Tool Man says:

    I got my cat in March ’05 from PetsMart, they have cats and sometimes dogs there from rescue organizations, and the animals will be put down if they are not adopted so this is a great place to rescue and adopt a cat or dog. The adoption fee I paid was $125 and that covered spaying and some other general shots i believe, plus you get some cool coupons for free toys and food! Hah!

    The shots are expensive, more expensive than you think. The first time I went to get my cat’s shots and checkup the bill was over $300, they promptly offered me pet insurance which is available at different levels of coverage. I opted for the most popular choice ($16.95/mo) and this covers shots and immunizations 2x/year as well as deep discounts in other medication, such as deworming pills (not fun!)…

    I did not realize that a cat can be so expensive, if you want to keep it healthy and up to date on all its shots/immunizations, you are looking at $500/yr. without any insurance. With insurance this drops to $200/yr.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The purchase price of a dog or cat at a shelter in our area usually includes shots and Spaying/Neutering. Crappy dog food for a 65lb dog runs $40 for a bag that lasts a month. Dog food that doesn’t give the dog gas or make it smell bad is a bit more. If you are going for organic kibble, it might be cheaper to buy spare cow parts in the human grocer’s section and mix it with cheap rice. Sometimes brain or liver and rice is cheaper that non-GMO, non-corn based dog food.

  4. Tool Man says:

    One correction – with insurance the cost should be $300/yr. total.

  5. Mike says:

    If you get a dog, you should take it for obedience training. This will save money in the long run by understanding dogs and the importance of exercise, crating, and instilling acceptable behaviors. You will need to buy a crate, toys, leash, collar, bowls, toothbrush, nail trimmers, shampoo, etc.

    A cat is a lot less expensive and not as needy. If you haven’t had an animal and you want to see what it’s like get a cat before you get a dog.

    I have one cat adpoted from the animal shelter and two labs purchased from breeders. I have trained my dogs through a local dog school and they have earned AKC awards–CD, CDX, CGC.

  6. Lauren says:

    We adopted a cat back in April. It was about $70 to take him home, but that included his neutering and updated shots and vet check, which they said will not need to be done again for 3 years. The shelter even gave us a free litterbox. We probably spend around $15 a month on food if even that (buying on sale and with coupons). Litter is probably the same. Overall it hasn’t been too expensive. I’d say only a vet emergency would be a real expense.

  7. Amanda says:

    I’m going through the same process now myself. My fiance is desperate for a cat or dog, and I am a little apprehensive… Am I ready to start devoting hundreds of dollars towards an animal that I could be saving? Not to mention the amount I will have to spend on my allergy Rx – which I normally don’t have to refill during the winter months. I just don’t know… but he sends me pictures from the Humane Society on a weekly basis, and those sad little beasts just break my heart!

    Anyway, as for your question, I did have pets growing up and I think your analysis of initial costs is about right. Although, most shelters have usually taken care of the primary shots and often the neuter/spay-ing too…

  8. FMF says:

    All of you need to look at the “Pets” posts on my site. Read them all — then look at the real cost of a pet over its lifetime. The cost is staggering.

  9. jim says:

    Stop spamming my site FMF. :)

  10. FMF says:

    Hey, I wanted to leave links all over the place, but thought that wasn’t cool. ;-)

    Don’t blame me if you buy a dog and are $15,000 poorer in 10 years. I’m trying to SAVE YOU MONEY here!!!!

    • Dan says:

      You must be a cold-hearted person. You don’t know what you are missing in life. Get a life and a heart!!!!!!

  11. jim says:

    You can’t put a price tag on love. hahahaha

  12. Sara says:

    I would recommend getting a medium size dog (I am highly allergic to cats, but they are cheaper for sure).

    Here are a few costs:
    Crate – $40-$60
    Food probably $15 per month (and I buy the good stuff)
    Nail trimming/grooming – Get a short haired dog. Nails are $8 at PetSmart (you could probably do it on your own if you get a dog with white/clear nails).
    You will want puppy training pads in your home to start with – $8 – $12
    Toys – $20 (balls, a few stuffed animals)
    Blankets – You probably have some around the house, but every pet deserves a nice blanket.
    Books – you should buy a bread specific book.

    I have health insurance on my dogs. I’m not sure how much it costs, but when I did the cost benefit analysis, I came out ahead. Once you have a dog in your life, you will pretty much spend anything to keep it alive. When you get a dog from the shelter you can’t be too sure of its medical history or gene pool… even if you buy a dog from a good breader (WHICH ARE VERY HARD TO FIND), you may still have medical issues (which is why you should buy or borrow from the library, a bread specific book)…

    Didn’t know I had so much to say on this subject! Good luck with your decision! : )

  13. Debbie says:

    In the past year and a half I’ve acquired both a rat terrier (6 months old when I got him) and a kitten (8 weeks old when I got her). I did not pay a fee for either (the dog was “rescued” from a college student who decided he really, really wanted pit bull instead) and the cat was from a private home. The dog came with a carrier, leash & collar and the cat came with nothing. I go to a rural veterinarian who is very inexpensive, it cost me about $50 to neuter the dog, about $25 for vaccinations since we didn’t know which, if any, he had already had, and then about $50-$60 for flea control and about $10 for heartworm medicine (all of these expenses were within the first month or so, because of his age when I got him). The cat has required 3 vaccinations at about $10 each and will be going in for a spay in March when she’s six months old (probably another $50).

    That, of course, does not cover all the toys and goodies I’ve lavished on them (we won’t discuss that cost). Tip on frugal toys for cats: soda bottle caps.

    I strongly recommend a rescued animal unless you just really, really “need” a purebred — good for them, good for you. Do go for the spay/neuter too, you end up with a happier, healthier animal. And they really don’t know the difference.

  14. FMF says:

    Jim –

    You better take that “you can’t put a price tag on love comment down” — your girlfriend might see it and it could REALLY cost you some big bucks. ;-)

  15. Jonathan says:

    Just some quick advice, I knew this entry would get a lot of ocmments.

    1) Make sure you’re not allergic to either. We found we were allergic to cats after spending weeks with one.

    2) Cats are much easier than dogs.

    3) The bigger the dog, the bigger the poo. Picking up said poo is a pain in the well, butt. =)

  16. jim says:

    I was a little concerned about being allergic but I’ve been to friend’s homes and played with cats and dogs without incident, is that a long enough time period to know if you’re allergic?

    I think we’re going to get a cat first, just to get used to taking care of a pet (and cats don’t need to be walked), before a dog but everytime I look at a sharpei I want to smush around its face. My girlfriend says that Sharpei’s aren’t friendly dogs, like the pair of Scottish Terriers at her parent’s place, but I don’t mind.

    I think I’d prefer a smaller dog with its small poo. I’ve seen people walk around with newspaper bags for poo collection, which I thought was pretty ingenius.

  17. FMF says:

    Just think for a moment — 5 am, raining, cold, collecting poo.

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you. ;-)

  18. FMF is a real ray of sunshine.

  19. FMF says:

    Hey, that’s my gifting — reality. ;-)

  20. jim says:

    Please feel free to use my blog as your own personal chat room. :)

  21. You don’t get a pet based on cost, but based on how much love, time, and patience you want to invest in a loving companion animal. The cost of obtaining a pet is insignificant when you consider what having a pet adds to your life.

  22. Henry says:

    Hi ,

    Cost of owning a pet is just one consideration. Your real passion and commitment of time to your beloved pet is another important factor. It is easy to buy or pick up a pet. Abandoning it might be even easier , be it you give it to someone or selling it away. Once you established that love and relation with your pet , you might find cost of maintaning it is just a very small part. Enjoy your hobby of keeping pets !

  23. John D says:

    Sad state of affairs.
    In new jersey it is more expensive to go to a vet then a Md or specialist.I was given a quote of $450 to have my Dog spayed.Every time you go to the vet it’s $150 to $250.And the crap they feed you was that breed of dog is know to be dangerous or I have never seen a well temper one.From 2 different vets and 3 different intenden.My dog is a 9 month old chinese sharpei.She was the runt of the litter.At 40 lbs a real brut.. She has not been fix yet but when I come up with the money it will be done. plus I need a warning sign Danger Danger She may lick you to death

  24. Anonymous says:

    Shar Pei get a bad rap. I should know, I have 12 of them and 7 new babies. I have owned and bred shar pei for 18 years and not one of my dogs has ever bitten me, a vet or a person. Do not always believe what you hear. Marilyn

  25. CatOwner says:

    I’m sure you already have gotten a pet by now, but for those who are looking into it (or if you haven’t) you have to take into consideration all the ‘extras’

    With dogs you have all the items listed above-spaying/neutering, food, etc… But there’s also the little things people (including myself) overlook. Food and water dish, leash, collar, dog tags, and chew toys, to name a few. It doesn’t seem like much at first, but it adds up quickly! Also, it’s good to keep in mind that pets, like humans, can also have medical problems such as allergies. Growing up, we had a lhasa apso/maltese mix who, honestly, was allergic to red meat and wheat. This meant pretty much ALL dog food was out (at least the cheap kind) and he ended up getting chicken from a can and cottage cheese, along with regular vet visits for pills, ear drops, and other things. This is also on top of shots sometimes, because some vets insist you get them shots before they look at them. Also, having a male dog, neutering was a MUST. It’s unfortunate, but without it they’re territorial, constantly fighting for dominance (especially if there’s a male in the house), and you get the ‘marking’ of the territory… Fun! Keep in mind too that dogs are very social animals and are ‘pack’ driven by nature. This means no locking him up all day while you’re at work and investing in either a second dog, doggie day-care, or a dog walker… All more money!

    Now, I recently got a male cat, thinking it would be far less work. I’m sure in some situations it is, but I seem to have a knack for picking out the crazy animals! As with dogs, there are a bunch of little things you need. Food/water dish, cat toys (thought mine is happy with tin foil balls, string, and straws, a considerably cheaper option!), litter box, and litter, and anything else you want. Litter seems like a cheap option at first, but if you want a home that doesn’t constantly reek like cat ‘buisness’, I’ve found the best method is to clean it out daily with the scoop and once a WEEK, empty and scrub the box. The litter goes fast, but it’s worth it. And some cats can be extremely picky about what litter they will use (ie: only the expensive stuff! :) )Collars help, though my cat can’t stand it. Even if you have a house cat it’s a good idea in case they ever sneak out. Just like with dogs, my male cat is territorial and fights for dominance and male cats spray, which is a God-awful thing to smell and nearly impossible to great rid of, making neutering almost a requirement. Also is the issues of claws. Declawing, which is horrible (it’s an amputation, not simply removing the claws) is one option, or there is a product out called ‘SoftPaws’ which works surprisingly well, but is about $20 every 4 months or so (after your cat gets used to them and stops ripping them off. be prepared to spend more the first few times!)

    Anyone who takes in a pet is a savior, in my opinion, but I think a lot of pets end up back in shelters because owners don’t think about all these little things at first. Knowing exactly what you’re getting into is important. I hope this helps!


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