The Hidden Costs of Owning a Pet

Jun 29, 2023 3 min read

If you’re thinking of getting a pet, you aren’t alone. According to the American Pet Products Association, 66% of U.S. households own a pet — and that number continues to increase each year. While adding an animal to your family can be a new, fun and exciting adventure, pets also come at a cost. In 2022 alone, Americans spent $136.8 billion on their furry friends. 

In addition to the upfront costs like the adoption fee or purchase price, pets need food, veterinary care, grooming, spaying and neutering, treats, toys and exercise. If you travel frequently, you’ll need to find a pet sitter, which can add up quickly. Pets can also have medical conditions like diabetes or arthritis that require extensive veterinary care and medication, so it’s important to make sure you’re in a position to care for their needs if unexpected health conditions arise. 

Keep these five lesser-known pet costs in mind as you decide whether you — and your family’s bottom line — are up to the task of caring for a new pet.

5 Unexpected Pet Costs to Consider

First, it’s important to take a step back and look at the whole picture. Have you thought about whether you or other family members have time to care for a pet? Have you considered the cost of owning a pet? Here, we review the things you need to know before getting a pet, including how a pet may change your day-to-day routine and your insurance coverage.

1. Different Types of Animals Have Different Needs

And those different needs can translate into expenses. Before you choose an animal, research the type of pet you are thinking about getting. It’s possible that you’ve dreamed of owning an Olde English Bulldog your whole life, but you may find that when you research this breed, their potential health issues could add up to thousands in vet bills. It’s easy to fall in love with a specific type of dog, cat or bird, but you need to consider whether you have the resources to offer the vet care it needs for years to come. 

2. Pets Need Your Time and Attention

Time is one of the most important things to consider when you’re thinking about bringing home a new pet. It’s hard to resist the cuteness of puppies and kittens, but there are many responsibilities when it comes to their care. For example, if you’re getting a puppy, you must account for house training, obedience training, walking, feeding and giving the puppy attention. For some people, this means taking time off work to establish a routine for the pet, hiring a trainer to help or making other accommodations. Be sure to consider the financial ramifications of what it takes to properly train and care for an animal, and keep in mind that it can take some time for a new pet to acclimate to your home and family. If you don’t have spare time or resources, owning a pet may not be right for you right now.

3. Pets Need Space — Some More Than Others

Think about the pet you want to get and consider where you live and how much space you have. Is it a fit? While small pets like cats, fish or a guinea pig can be happy in any type of dwelling, certain dog breeds do better in certain types of homes. Big, high-energy dogs may do better in an environment with a yard, while low-energy dogs may love an apartment. If you live in a condo, high-rise building or apartment, research nearby dog parks or trails where you can walk your dog, so you know what’s available around you. And even the smaller, indoor animals need a spot of their own within your home, which means you’ll be on the hook for crates, tanks, litter boxes and more.

If you live in a rental property, make sure your landlord allows pets and that there aren’t breed restrictions. Some rental properties have limitations on pet weight and the number of pets allowed in a unit, and most rentals charge a monthly pet rent plus an additional deposit to cover any damage caused. Keep in mind, too, that if you plan on moving with your pet, it can be difficult to find pet-friendly rentals in some markets.

4. Not Every Pet Will Be a Fit for Your Family

When visiting a breeder or an adoption center, ask if you’re able to schedule a home visit with the pet. A home visit can be beneficial for not only the potential pet owner, but for the pet as well. Home visits can be especially beneficial if there are children in the home.

Many animal rescues offer “pet for a day” programs that allow potential pet owners to spend a day with a pet. This is a great way to see if the animal will easily blend in with your family. It will also potentially save you a lot of money, hassle and heartache in case the animal isn’t a good fit, due to allergies, aggression or other issues. 

5. Some Pets May Not Be Eligible for Coverage

Whether you’re looking at buying a pet from a breeder or adopting from your local animal rescue shelter, the breed of your dog may affect your homeowner’s liability insurance. The average cost of an insurance claim filed due to a dog bite is nearly $50,000, so even if your dog has no bite history or isn’t considered a banned breed, you should still carry enough liability coverage to cover the risk. 

Make Sure You’re Covered

When you bring home a new pet, your family starts a new adventure. Make sure you’re prepared by ensuring you have the right coverage. Contact your local Farm Bureau agent to learn more about how a new pet can affect your insurance.

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.