Man’s Best Friend….But At What Cost?

“My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That’s almost $21.00 in dog money.”
Joe Weinstein (comedian)

I was recently approached by a reader from Companion Animals, an organization that “promotes education, respect and understanding” about dogs and pet ownership.  They work with therapy and service dogs, and appear to be a good organization.

As part of their “promoting education” goal, they asked if I’d be willing to share some information they’ve put together regarding the actual costs of pet ownership.  As a proud pet lover (see Dogs, Cats & Pygmy goats), how could I possibly say no?  It’s important to understand what you’re commiting to when you decide you want a pet, and this post will help shed light on the facts.  I’ve always wondered how much our 4 dogs were costing us…now I know (it’s surprising when you see all of the costs broken down, but I wouldn’t trade the joy they bring to our family for any amount of money!).

Therefore, as an act of Good Will, The Retirement Manifesto presents the following Public Service Announcement from Juliana at Companion Animals – take special note of the infographic they developed.

Needless to say, owning a pet is huge responsibility, but how much does that doggy in the window really cost?

Aside from the initial cost of purchasing a pet, or better yet: adopting one, there’s a whole slew of other expenses that accompany pet parenthood, and in an attempt to help anyone looking forward to bringing a new pet into their home and heart, we’ve created the following infographic, based on data from the ASPCA.

Below, we break down many of the initial and recurring costs of pet ownership, based on animal type, and even though some of the numbers may shock the inexperienced pet owner, it’s extremely important to note that the infographic does not cover medical expenses, which as many pet owners know, can be monumental depending on the type of animal and breed.

That being said, if you’re looking at becoming a proud pet parent, we here at Companion Animals wish you and your new family member the absolute best, and if you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to share them with us and we’ll be more than happy to respond!

And now, without further ado:



  1. Great infographic. The kids are bombarding me with pet requests. For now I managed to say no. My wife is at hart pro, when practical aspects joins she is on my side.

    To me, it is not the money aspect. It is the added responsibility. Especially when going on a holiday.

    1. I agree it’s a good infographic, which is part of why I agreed to share it. Owning a pet is a major decision, including many factors. Make sure you consider them all before taking the plunge. My wife and I work at an animal rescue charity, and it’s shocking how many people simply abandoned dogs when they realize how big the obligation is. A real shame. Also – always adopt a rescue dog!!

  2. I agree with ATL. My cat sitter/friend is moving to Florida and it wouldn’t be beyond me to start every vacation in FL, dropping Groovy Cat off at her house! And I agree with you, always adopt. Never buy. There are too many sweet animals in need of a home.

    1. I have to disagree, Mrs. Groovy. While both you and ATL are hesitant to take on the obligation, I think it’s also important to think about how much true joy an animal can bring into a household. I heard on a podcast this morning (RoadTrekking) that cited ~63% of campers bring pets along with them. I know in my family we really love our 4 dogs, and look forward to RV’ing with them when we reach retirement. There are some things that aren’t easily quantified in dollar terms, and the value that a dog brings into a household is one of those things. In utmost respect to your positions, of course! 🙂

  3. I agree with you too! My point in agreeing with ATL is about my personal difficulty in leaving Groovy Cat behind. Taking our cat (cats, when we had 3) on vacation has not been a consideration and I wouldn’t dream of leaving GC in a kennel or in a stranger’s home. One year while we were someplace warm, there was a snowstorm here. Lucky for me my sitter’s son-in-law drove her over in his truck. What if he wasn’t home? Or if my sitter didn’t let me know there was an issue? There’s always a concern in the back of my mind when I leave GC. Now that we want to begin spending 3-4 weeks away, it’s going to be difficult for me to find someone I trust deeply.

  4. We have adopted all of our animals, except 2. My wife decided to surprise me with a puppy of a breed she thought I really wanted. Turned out to not be exactly true, but we still have her and she is loved. The second time, I decided to surprise my wife. Which her reaction was honestly much better than mine. Actually tried to find a rescue, but the agencies we contacted did not get back to us.

    We currently are “fostering” a black kitten that apparently likes to hitch-hike. Quite a story. We currently have 3-dogs, 2 cats, and a turtle. Don’t really need a 3rd cat, but we’ll take care of him until someone else can.

    cd :O)

    1. 3 Dogs, 2 3 Cats, and A Turtle. Sounds like quite the Zoo! Sounds like a potential blog story about the kitten who hitch-hikes (I can imagine some analogies there!). Thanks for your comment, enjoy that “fostered” kitten (you DO realize you’re not fostering any longer, right? You really do own 3 cats now….enjoy!

  5. Mrs. G and I are down to one cat. And our annual cost of caring for Groovy Cat is very similar to the cost of caring for a cat in the infographic. Juliana knows her stuff. I hesitate to proclaim that pet ownership is only for the financially secure, but that’s what it’s coming to–especially when you factor in medical costs. And the only reason I can’t bring myself to say that pets are verboten is simple. Pets are awesome. Our lives would be decidedly less fulfilling without them. Thanks for sharing this information, Fritz. Hopefully it will help pet-lovers make better choices.

    1. “….I can’t bring myself to saqy that pets are verboten….Pets are awesome”. Indeed, Mr. Groovy, there are some things that go beyond purely financial considerations! Pleased to see your experience validates the infographic, and I agree pet-lovers need to be aware of the costs when deciding on whether or not to add an animal to “their pack”. Thanks for the input!

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