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How much does owning a pet cost in a year?

A cute face can mean high costs
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A cute face can mean high costs © iStock

Are pets a waste of money?
By Jean Chatzky

A cute face can mean high costs

Prospective pet owners should ask more than "How much is that doggie in the window?" before deciding whether they can afford to welcome an animal into their home.

"Often the cute face and wagging tail and warm body is what forms the initial bond," says Katherine Miller, director of anti-cruelty behavior research for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. But "pets are completely depending on us for their care. You do need to make considerations for the financial side."

Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. households own a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association, so many families should budget for their needs.

Save money for emergency vet trips, says Adam Goldfarb pharmacy manager at VCA Animal Hospitals.

"Healthy animals are fairly cheap," he says. "When they become ill or injured, the costs can go up quite a bit."

Don't forget to multiply recurring expenses by the pet's expected life span, which varies even among different dog or cat breeds and also based on their lifestyles, says Miller.

Cats can live 15 to 20 years, and dogs 10 to 15 years, she says.

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