A heap of scientific evidence shows that for most people, owning a pet is good for the mind and body. There’s a cost, however, for all that purring, playing, tail-wagging joy. From pet hospital bills to trips to the pet supplies store, a dog or cat will burn through money every single day you’re together — but not at the same rate. Both animals have different needs and come with different bills, but the good news is both cat people and dog people alike can save money on the most common expenses.
Cat: Routine Vet Visits
Cost: approximately $45 to $55
Adult cats should see the vet once a year, although kittens have to visit every three or four weeks until they’re 16 weeks old. When they’re young, they need vaccines and screenings, which can raise the average cost to between $18 to $50 for each shot or test. When cats enter their senior years, they start seeing the vet twice a year. And with more expensive cat breeds, you want to be aware of added costs.
Dog: Routine Vet Visits
Cost: approximately $45 to $55
Like their feline rivals, dogs have to visit the vet for shots and screenings at least once a month until 16 weeks old. Vet visits for adults dogs should happen once per year until they reach seven to 10 years old, at which time the visits move to twice per year. Shots, screenings and tests can all raise the cost of a visit. With all these costs, it’s worth considering a less expensive breed of dog.
How to Save on Routine Vet Visits
You can save money at the vet by asking for in-house labs or seeking out a vet that performs labs in-house as part of your research and selection process, according to ABC. You should also always request generic prescriptions and inquire about wellness packages — such as puppy or senior packages — as well as any special seasonal pricing. If you can find ways to save on spending here, you can splurge on other goodies for your pet.
Cat: Spaying and Neutering
Cost: approximately $145
Spaying your cat is the first step to responsible pet ownership, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The first reason is obvious — no unwanted kittens. But spaying and neutering also come with a heap of potential health-related benefits, such as reduced cancer risks and possible behavioral improvement.
Dog: Spaying and Neutering
Cost: approximately $190 to $220
By spaying or neutering your dog, you can do your part to stem the homeless animal epidemic. And just like for cats, the procedures also reduce your dog’s exposure to a host of health and behavioral problems. The ASPCA estimates you’ll spend $190 for small dogs, $200 for medium-size breeds and $220 for big dogs.
How to Save on Spay/Neuter
Don’t consider skipping the critical step of spaying or neutering just because money is tight. The ASPCA maintains a massive database of low-cost sterilization providers across the country. Just enter your zip code into the database tool to find reduced-rate or even free providers in your area.
Cat: Surgical Vet Visits
Cost: approximately $245
The average feline surgery costs $245, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Veterinary Pet Insurance, which is a subsidiary of Nationwide, reports that tooth extraction brings more cats to the animal hospital surgical table than anything else, with abscesses and other benign skin masses not far behind. Cats are also susceptible to several kinds of cancer, and the treatments in those cases can run deep into the thousands.
Dog: Surgical Vet Visits
Cost: approximately $474
The APPA warns dog owners that their pets will cost even more than cats if surgery at an emergency vet or veterinary clinic is required. Skin ailments and masses are the most common surgical procedures, according to Veterinary Pet Insurance, which advises owners that expensive cancers are also fairly common in dogs. Among the costliest procedures of all, however, are ACL repairs on damaged knees.
How to Save on Surgical Vet Visits
If you’ve read this far, congratulations. You already know the two best ways to save money on surgical care — prevent the need for serious surgery in the first place by spaying or neutering your cats and dogs and following a regular schedule of preventative veterinary checkups. Also, consider investing in pet insurance, which many major carriers offer.
Cost: approximately $175 annually
The ASPCA estimates that you’ll spend $175 a year to insure your cat. Just as with your own car and health insurance, policies come with a huge selection of deductibles, copays, payout maximums and coverage options, all of which can affect the price you’ll pay every month or year.
Cost: approximately $224 annually
Dog insurance will run you about $225 a year, no matter the size or breed of your dog, according to the ASPCA. Just as with cats, the type of dog you have, its health and the coverage you want will affect the price. Owners with more than one dog, older dogs and younger dogs are more likely to need insurance.
How to Save on Pet Insurance
Visit Consumer Reports for unbiased reviews of the industry’s top pet-focused insurance providers. The organization has also developed a quiz, the results of which will be a good starting point to understanding if you need insurance, and if so, what kind and how much. The ASPCA offers a lot of good information on the subject as well, but keep in mind that the organization also sells its own insurance.
Cost: approximately $235 annually
If you own a cat, you can expect to spend $235 to feed your furry friend every single year, according to the APPA. Feeding your cat isn’t a science, but portions and schedules vary considerably depending on age, size and other variables. Generally, a healthy cat requires 30 calories per pound per day. Remember that feeding it too much can be as dangerous as too little.
Cost: approximately $235 annually
It costs as much to feed a dog as it does a cat, but dogs, of course, can grow much bigger — and hungrier — so the real average cost will vary wildly depending on breed, according to the APPA. Dogs can consume as little as a half-cup to more than six cups of food per day, so size matters when it comes to price, according to PetMD.
How to Save on Food
There are two main ways to save money on food without skimping on quality: make your own or buy in bulk. By using Amazon Prime, members can take advantage of free shipping and avoid lugging huge bags home from a pet shop. If you invest the time in making your own food, you’ll save money and maintain total control over the ingredients. The trade-off is that your pet’s nutritional intake is now completely your responsibility. Take some time to do your research, and remember that carnivorous cats and omnivorous dogs — and even breeds within each species — have very different dietary requirements.
Cost: approximately $56
The growth of the pet treat industry is a key driver in the overall growth of the pet food sector — especially at specialty stores, according to Petfood Industry. Part of that growth might be because owners are opting for healthier — and often more expensive — options for pampering their pets. It could also be that people are simply giving their cats too many treats, according to WebMD.
Cost: approximately $72
Dogs should get no more than 10 percent of their daily calories from treats, according to WebMD. But even then, the APPA estimates you’ll spend $72 a year on snacks for your pooch. Just like their cat counterparts, dogs have a much wider selection of treats available with healthier ingredients than they did in years past — but that might require their humans to pay a little more.
How to Save on Treats
Just like food, you can save on treats by buying them in bulk or making them yourself. Also, don’t be shy about asking your vet or local animal shelter for free samples, which they frequently get from manufacturers. Finally, check sites such as Chewy, which lets you shop the same brands you’d find in stores, but often at a discount or with special coupons.
Cat: Kennel Boarding
Cost: approximately $164 annually
It costs $20 to $30 per night to board a cat in a pet shelter while you’re away, according to client/service pairing website Thumbtack. That gives you about a week for a cat-free vacation before you cap out at the $164 average the APPA says cat owners spend each year on the service. You can spend more or less, however, depending on the level of pampering and other factors such as whether your cat requires medication or wants extra “night time cuddles” or “tuck-in service,” which will cost you $3 more at one Thumbtack service.
Dog: Kennel Boarding
Cost: approximately $322 annually
Here, too, dogs cost more. You’ll spend $40 to $60 per night to board a dog, according to Thumbtack, and the APPA says the average jumps all the way up to $322 a year to put up your pooch. Just as with cats, the cost of boarding can jump up or down depending on variables like the dog’s maintenance level and the type of care.
How to Save on Kennel Boarding
It’s never a good feeling to leave your loved one alone in the care of strangers, but modern dog and cat owners have options beyond the local kennel or even pricier dog hotels. Services such as DogVacay and Rover hook pet owners up with pet sitters who often charge less and provide individualized care and attention at your place or theirs.
Cost: approximately $46
Cats must have animal protein in their diets and, unlike dogs and humans, they don’t need to consume any carbohydrates at all, according to the Feline Nutrition Foundation. If they don’t get enough vitamins and minerals from their diets, they might need a vitamin supplement — particularly vitamin A, which cats can’t convert from plant-based beta-carotene like many animals can. Cat owners spend an average of $46 a year on vitamins, according to the APPA.
Cost: approximately $58
Most quality dog food options provide all the vitamins your dog will need, according to PetMD. But some dogs can benefit from a vitamin specifically designed for a certain condition — most commonly joint pain. The APPA reports that the average dog owner buys $58 worth of vitamins a year.
How to Save on Vitamins
Coupons and retail discount sites such as RetailMeNot can help you save on animal vitamins, just as they can when you shop for anything else. Amazon also offers special discounts and free delivery of pet vitamins to Prime members. But you should scour pet-specific sites such as 1800PetMeds to find a huge selection of the brands you love, which are often sold at a discount.
Cost: approximately $50 to $70
Cat grooming isn’t as big an industry as dog grooming, according to Thumbtack, which places the average cost for the service between $50 and $70. The reason, according to the ASPCA, is that cats are self-cleaning machines with tongues and teeth that are designed to take care of the task in all but the dirtiest situations.
Cost: approximately $60 to $80
Thumbtack puts the average cost of dog grooming at somewhere between $60 and $80 per session — but there’s a whole heap of variables, not the least of which is the breed. The American Kennel Club lists hundreds of breeds with a seemingly endless variation of coats and an equally vast array of grooming needs.
How to Save on Grooming
Groom as much as you can yourself. You won’t have to put your dog through the experience of being groomed by strangers, and you’ll get to enjoy the bonding experience that goes along with the chore. It will pay off in the long run to make an upfront investment in good grooming tools, which you can get on sites such as PetEdge at a discount. When professional help is needed, call your local groomers and ask about specials and bundled packages. Finally, see if there’s a grooming school in your area. If so, they might be eager to let their advanced students take on the task for free.
Cost: approximately $30
Few things are more adorable than watching cats hone their internal drive to stalk, hunt and kill smaller animals. We call it play, but Modern Cat says that stimulating your cat’s predatory instincts with toys is good for both cat and owner alike. Cat owners spend $30 a year on toys that get their pets in touch with their wild sides, according to the APPA.
Cost: approximately $47
For some dog owners, toys are behavior modification tools. For others, they’re the things that keep Fido from eating the couch. For the rest of the canine world, toys are just an awesome way to stimulate the mouth and mind. The APPA reports that people buy their dogs an average of $47 worth of toys a year.
How to Save on Toys
Before you head to the pet shop, consider DIYing this one. Chances are high you can craft amazing toys out of things you have around the house that you’re willing to part with, and your four-legged friend will love what you make every bit as much as a store-bought toy. Barkpost developed a list of more than 30 DIY dog toys, and Care.com has a list of 20 for cats.
More on Pets:
- Buying a Dog vs. Having a Kid: A Cost Breakdown
- 25 Best Animal Charities to Donate to on World Animal Day 2018
- 30 Most Expensive Dog Breeds
About the Author
Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street’s investment community in New York City.