Bringing a pet into your family is certainly an exciting decision and can bring plenty of happiness into your home, but it is important to fully understand the financial undertaking before you commit to pet ownership. In a recent study conducted by, more than 75 percent of Americans underestimate the costs of owning a pet. Here are some expenses to consider before diving into the world of pet ownership.

Most popular pets and initial costs While there is a wide variety of animals that can qualify as a pet, statistics from show a very clear top 3 in the U.S. in terms of quantity.

type Total number in U.S.
Freshwater fish 171,700,000
Cat 93,600,000
Dog 79,500,000
Small pets 15,900,000
Bird 15,000,000

The initial cost to purchase these pets can vary widely across different forms and breeds. Looking at the U.S. average according to, freshwater fish come in at the cheapest with an average of just $12.50 per fish. After that, cats come in at an average of $75 for an adopted cat or $750 for a purebred cat bought directly from a breeder. The most expensive of the top three are dogs, with adopted dogs costing an average of $185 and dogs purchased from a breeder averaging $900.

Welcome home costs
Welcoming your pet home will include a substantial sum of one-time expenses. For cats and dogs, this includes items such as a collar and leash, litter box, and a kennel or crate. Expect to spend somewhere in the range of $100 to $200 on this set of items. Fish owners will experience the most expensive costs at this stage due to buying an aquarium and related items. Depending on how many fish you are purchasing and their type, expect these costs to run

in the $20 to $60 range for a small aquarium and $300 to $600 for a larger unit. An easy way to save on these items is to check with family and friends that previously owned pets or have spare items from their pet’s early days. Also, search your local classified ads for pre-owned supplies that can significantly cut the costs compared to buying new.

Veterinarian costs Vet costs are most prevalent for cats and dogs, and a majority of them will occur at a young age. Perhaps the most substantial cost to get started is neutering or spaying your new pet. Neutering a male cat or dog often is less expensive than spaying a female, and averages $75 for cats and $90 for dogs. Expect to pay an average of $150 to spay a female cat and $112.50 for a female dog. Annual vet costs include check-ups, vaccinations, exams, and various tests. For dogs, the average annual vet bill comes in at $300, while cat owners should expect annual costs of $145. It is important to remember that unexpected or emergency expenses can come with pet ownership. Ailments that require surgery can easily total up to 4 figures and can be a shock for many new pet owners. Putting money in an emergency fund can help lessen the impact if these are to happen, and opting for pet insurance can help greatly reduce your risk of higher costs.

Pet insurance The pet insurance industry has seen a significant increase in recent years. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, pet owners spent $1.42 billion on pet insurance premiums in 2018 in the U.S. and Canada, an increase of 17.1 percent from 2017. Deciding whether or not to purchase pet insurance can be a difficult decision for many pet owners. While the cost of an emergency situation with your pet can seem frightening, it is important to compare that with the total you would spend on an insurance premium. For 2018 in the U.S., the average pet insurance premium cost dog owners $566.34 for accident and illness plans, or $190.02 for accident only. For cat owners, the 2018 U.S. average was $354.38 for accident and illness, or $140.87 for accident only.

Before you dive into pet ownership, think about the potential for high costs and whether you feel more financially comfortable with an annual pet insurance cost versus the risk of higher incidental costs.

Recurring expenses Some of the hardest to track, yet still significant costs of pet ownership are on everyday items such as food, toys, and maintenance/grooming. lists annual average food and treat costs to be around $500 for dogs and around $240 for cats. On the other hand, a year’s supply of fish food can cost just $20 for most owners. Every owner will spend differently on toys, accessories, and other items for their pets, but it is important to be mindful of how quickly these expenses can add up. Before picking up your new pet, consider the additional costs for grooming and maintenance that can vary depending on the type/breed and your personal preferences.