Sense & Centsibility Blog

Are You Financially Prepared to Adopt a Pet?

If you're thinking about adopting a pet, check out Ashley's flashback Friday post. So many times we get caught up in the emotions and excitement and don't think about the costs involved. Read on for tips to be financially prepared to adopt Fluffy or Fido.

I'm a dog person and I treat my pets like family. I'll be the first to tell you that adding a new member to the family is a huge decision. When you adopt a pet you are committing to care for your pet’s lifetime of needs. Making sure that you are ready for pet ownership and finding a pet that is a good fit for you and your family is important. In addition, planning for the expense is important because according to PetMD you are looking at a lifespan from 11-22 years. Here are some short-term and long-term costs to consider as you prepare for the transition to the wonderful world of pet parenthood.

Adoption FeesLily the dog

A lot of people don’t know that there is a fee to adopt an animal. These fees cover the much needed care for a pet before they find their forever home. Adoption fees can vary widely depending on the type of animal you are adopting, the demand for that type of pet, and care/services that have been provided (i.e. spay, neuter, microchip etc). Make sure that you are adopting within your budget. Locally adoption fees are anywhere from $25-$ set a limit. Going into debt to adopt an animal is not a good way to start your new relationship.

Pet Registration Fees

Most communities require you to register your pet…another one that isn’t widely known! This fee can be a one-time fee or an annual fee of usually less than $20. This is something you can talk about with your adoption facility or contact your local city or county offices for more information about the requirements in your area.

Pet Deposits

If you are renting a home or apartment or are looking to rent, it is important to know that having a pet will narrow your search to those rentals that allow pets. You will also likely need to put an additional deposit down in order to rent the home. This can also apply to hotels because if you are traveling with a pet, you may need to pay a little more for the hotel that allows your furry travel companion.

Kennel or Pet Sitters

This is the biggie! As much as I wish they could be, dogs are not people and, therefore, aren’t welcome in everyone's home or business. Ultimately, most people eventually have to leave their dogs for an extended period of time. And if you don’t have family or neighbors that you can trust, you may need to kennel your pet or hire a pet sitter. Kennel costs average $20-$50 per day. Plus most, if not all, kennels require certain vaccinations that can add up. This will add to your travel expenses, but it is good to know that your fur baby is in good hands if you are away.

Food and Supplies

It may seem obvious that quality food will keep your dog or cat healthy, but the right supplies are important, too. Having the appropriate collars, leashes, and fencing or runner will keep your pet safe. So make sure that you have a plan for their outdoor safety. You will also want to make sure you are providing suitable toys. This is money well spent because if you don’t provide something for them to chew on or scratch at, they will find something of yours to fill the void.


Regular visits to the vet can add up. Depending on the age and type of pet you have, you will likely see the vet once or twice a year. I can think of a few times in my life where my vet bills topped $500! But don’t skip out. Regular trips to the vet for blood tests and screenings will allow your vet to spot a health issue before it become an emergency. A trip to the emergency vet will be double what you spend at your regular vet clinic. If you notice there might be something wrong, go to the vet right away. Something else to keep in mind: as your pet ages, the cost for their healthcare will likely increase.

Preventative Care

Another way to keep your pet healthy is to make sure they are protected from common diseases that can affect your pet. For example, heartworm and tick prevention can be very important for dogs. There is a cost for these treatments, but the good news is you can shop around for the best deal on these on-going medications.

My goal here is not to scare you out of getting a dog or other pet. I just want people to be prepared for the financial responsibility that comes with adopting a pet because there is NOTHING better than owning a dog. Just do what you can to prepare for the costs and try to save up money so that you're not financially strapped from the start. Good luck and happy adopting!

If you already have a pet, here are tips to keep expenses down. Also, read more about periodic savings that will help you prepare for likely future expenses.

Are you thinking about adopting a dog or cat and you're not sure if you can afford it? LSS can help. Call us at 888.577.2227 to schedule a budgeting session with one of our Financial Counselors or click here.

Author Ashley Hagelin is a Certified Financial Counselor and she specializes in Reverse Mortgage Counseling with LSS Financial Counseling.