How Much Does Adopting a Dog or Cat Really Cost?

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It’s easy to think about all the good times you can have with a new dog, but it’s just as easy to forget about the care and attention they need.

Some expenses are one-time fees, while others may be annual or monthly costs you should add to your budget. We’ve broken down the essentials and the “nice-to-haves” below so you can see how much it really costs to care for your new furry friend.

The Essentials

Adoption Fees $25 – $300 (One Time)
Before you can take your new friend home, it’s typical to pay the shelter an adoption fee. This cost mostly covers a medical exam, vaccinations, and other medical treatment to make sure your pet is ready for a healthy life at home with you. Some shelters may waive this fee during particular special events, so it’s best to call ahead to know what to expect.

Food and Water Bowls $25 – $300 (One Time)
Clean, washable bowls for your dog’s food and water might already be something sitting around your home. Of course, you can always include features like automatic feeders, water filters and more if you’re willing to up the price.

Pet Food $20 – $120 (Monthly)
Just like human food, finding cheap options isn’t difficult, but quality dog food is what you’ll want to look for. Choosing the right dog food can help you avoid potential health issues later in life, so don’t skimp on quality and check with your veterinarian for a recommendation.

Woman feeds scruffy looking Jack Russell terrier mix Hill's pet food in a kitchen.

Collar/Harness $5 – $150 (One Time)
From basic function to glamorous fashion, all a collar or harness really needs to do for your dog is be sturdy enough for everyday wear. Nylon is the most affordable option, but a good leather collar always looks good. Either way, buckles, and snaps work equally well – just make sure to never use a choke collar. Collars are typically a one-time buy, but you may have to buy larger ones as your dog grows.

Dog on leather leash walking on path in park wearing leather collar.

Leash $3 – $120 (One Time)
Just like collars, there’s seemingly no end to how much you want to spend on materials, but the basics are the same. Small dogs need smaller leashes, while large dogs need larger leashes. You can opt for a standard “rope-like” leash that’s suitable for training, or a retractable one for a more compact, tangle-free option. Some even include GPS trackers for added security.

ID Tag $5 – $50 (One Time)
Thanks to modern manufacturing, getting a custom ID tag for your dog can be fairly inexpensive these days. You can choose from a number of styles online, or even have the information printed on the collar itself, so long as you make sure you have the right information on there. Typically, you’ll at least want the name your dog responds to, and a phone number to call if found.

Bedding $5 – $600 (One Time)
A recently adopted shelter pet may be perfectly content with a DIY bed, but over time, you might want to spoil your canine companion with their own special bed for a good night’s sleep. You can always spoil your dog a little bit with their own private couch.

Grooming Brush $2 – $45 (One Time)
If you pick electric clippers with vacuum or washing capabilities, be our guest, but to properly groom your dog you’ll at least need a brush with strong, soft bristles. Professional dog grooming sessions cost around $60-$90 per session, depending on your dog’s breed, size and temperament, if you’d prefer to have someone do the haircut.

Nail Clippers $2 – $30 (One Time)
Clipping your dog’s nails can be a little nerve-wracking at first, but for a little more money, you can opt for a battery-operated “nail grinder” that will safely (and slowly) file your dog’s nails. This is a service that can also be done if you take your dog to the vet or a professional groomer.

Toys $0 – $200 (Annually)
Toys are a must for busy pups, but even an older dog will want a favorite toy to keep near for comfort. What your dog decides is a “toy” is up to them, so while you might invest in something like an automatic tennis ball launcher, a DIY option may become their favorite item of all time.

puppy playing with red ball in the grass.

Toothbrush and Dog-Friendly Toothpaste $1 – $4 (Monthly)
Yup, you’ll want to brush those pointy whites. While electric options are now available for your doggo, it’s most important to start a regular brushing routine. Consider replacing your dog’s toothbrush every 1-3 months.

Veterinary Care $100 – $500 (Annually)
There are plenty of ways you can save money with your pet, but there’s no getting around the need to take your dog to the vet. Puppies need a lot of vaccinations, while senior dogs may have chronic health conditions that require their own care. Of course, these numbers can vary widely depending on your dog’s health needs.

Brown dog being examined by a female veterinarian.

Flea, Tick & Mosquito Prevention $200 – $300 (Annually)
Ticks can spread a number of pathogens, fleas can lead to itching and dermatitis, and mosquitoes can carry deadly heartworms. From topicals to collars, there are a variety of preventatives available.

Recommended

These items might be considered extra, but any one of them can be invaluable when needed, and save you considerable money in preventing larger issues. Pick as you find necessary.

Microchip $30 - $50 (One Time)
If the unthinkable happens and your dog goes missing, an implanted microchip might be the last resort if they’re rescued and brought to a veterinarian or shelter.

Crate $25 – $1000 (One Time)
While technically an option, a good crate is practically a must for potty training a dog or going on long trips. Prices vary by your dog’s size, so make sure your pet has the ability to turn around or lay down in it. Choose from a basic carrier, or splurge on an option designed to take anywhere.

Pet insurance $10 – $50 (Monthly)
Pet insurance typically comes in two types: “Accident Only” and “Accident and Illness”. It’s best to know if your dog has any pre-existing conditions before choosing a plan, and always make sure that your plan is compatible with your veterinarian.

Training Treats $0 – $30 (Monthly)
Pups and old dogs alike love a good reward, whether it’s a low-calorie snack, or a treat specifically made for their dietary needs. Remember, an extra piece of their regular dog food on occasion can feel like a treat to them, too.

Pet First Aid Kit $10 – $110 (One Time)
Accidents happen, and if you’re active with your dog, you’re bound to see the occasional injury and a 1st aid kit could make all the difference.

Travel Bowls $5 – $30 (One Time)
If you plan on traveling or hiking with your dog, you’ll want to bring some of their food and water with you. There are several solutions to pick from, but the more you use it, the less you’ll likely want it to weigh.

Dog Walking Service $50 – $400 (Monthly)
If you’re going to be away from your dog most of the day, hiring a dog walker to give them some much-needed exercise might be more of a necessity than a luxury. Prices often vary depending on the dog walker you hire, where you live, the number of dogs that need walking, and how often and how long you have them walked.

Trainer $200 – $1000 (One Time)
As much as we want our precious dog to be well behaved right from day one, some of our furry friends need a little more help. While some training classes seem pricey, a calm, well-behaved dog can change the way you and your pet get along.

Pet Boarding/Daycare $35 – $100 (Daily)
Having a dog doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to long trips and getaways, but unless you have a friend or family member that can care for your pet, you’ll want to invest in a service that will give your dog care, attention and exercise while you’re away.

GPS Tracker $25 – $800 (One Time w/ Possible Subscription)
GPS locators have thankfully gone down in price over the past few years, but you should still know what you’re paying for before making the investment. The more you plan on exploring the world with your pet, the more invaluable this device can be.

It’s easy to think about all the good times you can have with a new cat, but it’s just as easy to forget about the care and attention they need.

Some expenses are one-time fees, while others may be annual or monthly costs you should add to your budget. We’ve broken down the essentials and the “nice-to-haves” below so you can see how much it really costs to care for your new furry friend.

The Essentials

Adoption Fees $25 – $300 (One Time)
Before you can take your new friend home, it’s typical to pay the shelter an adoption fee. This cost mostly covers a medical exam, vaccinations, and other medical treatment to make sure your pet is ready for a healthy life at home with you. Many shelters waive this fee during particular special events, so it’s best to call ahead to know what to expect.

Collar $5 - $150 (One Time)
From basic function to glamorous fashion, all a collar really needs to do for your cat is be sturdy enough for everyday wear. Nylon is the most affordable option, but a good leather collar always looks good. Either way, make sure your cat’s collar can come off if pulled to avoid any chance of it getting caught.

ID Tag $5 – $50 (One Time)
Thanks to modern manufacturing, getting a custom ID tag for your cat can be fairly inexpensive these days. You can choose from a number of styles online, or even have the information printed on the collar itself, so long as you make sure you have the right information on there. Typically, you’ll at least want the name your cat responds to, and a phone number to call if found.

Food and Water Bowls $25 – $300 (One Time)
Clean, washable bowls for your cat’s food and water might already be something sitting around your home. Of course, you can always include features like automatic feeders, water filters and more if you’re willing to up the price.

Pet Food $20 – $120 (Monthly)
Just like human food, finding cheap options isn’t difficult, but quality cat food is what you’ll want to look for. Choosing the right cat food can help you avoid potential health issues later in life, so don’t skimp on quality and check with your veterinarian for a recommendation.

Litter (Monthly), Scoop & Litter Box (One Time) $12 – $170
To keep your cat from marking different parts of the house, get at least two different locations in your home where they can do their business, and make sure to keep them clean.

Scratching Post $0 – $30 (One Time)
Cats have to scratch, and a good scratching post can save you hundreds in new furniture! There are ways you can make your own scratching post, or shop from a wide array of options online.

Claw Trimmers $2 – $30 (One Time)
Clipping your cat’s claws can be a little nerve-wracking at first, but for a little more money, you can opt for a battery-operated “nail grinder” that will safely (and slowly) file your kitty’s nails. This is also a service that you can have your vet or a professional groomer do if you’re uncomfortable doing so yourself.

Toys $0 – $200 (Annually)
Toys are a must for busy kittens, but even an older cat will want a favorite toy to keep near for comfort. What your cat decides is a “toy” is up to them, so while you might invest in something like a giant cat tree, a DIY option may become their favorite item of all time.

Carrier $15 – $100 (One Time)
Car travel with your cat is bound to happen, and a carrier is the best way to keep them safe and comfortable, whether it’s a trip to the vet or a trip around the world.

Veterinary Care $100 – $500 (Annually)
There are plenty of ways you can save money with your pet, but there’s no getting around your cat’s vet visit. Kittens need a lot of vaccinations, while senior cats may have chronic health conditions that require their own care. Of course, these numbers can vary widely depending on your cat's health needs.

orange cat gets examined by female veterinarian

Flea, Tick & Mosquito Prevention $200 – $300 (Annually)
Ticks can spread a number of pathogens, fleas can lead to itching and dermatitis and mosquitoes can carry deadly heartworms. If your cat manages to wander outside (or these bugs find their way inside your home), the right preventative can save your cat’s life.

Toothbrush and Cat-Friendly Toothpaste $1 – $4 (Monthly)
Yup, you’ll want to brush those pointy whites. While electric options are now available for your kitty, it’s most important to start a regular brushing routine. Consider replacing your cat’s toothbrush every 1-3 months to keep it fresh and functional.

Recommended

These items might be considered extra, but any one of them can be invaluable when needed, and save you considerable money in preventing larger issues. Pick as you find necessary.

Bedding $5 – $300 (One Time)
Cats tend to sleep just about anywhere, but over time, you’ll want to give your feline companion a proper bed for a good night’s sleep.

Small kitten lying on its back on a white furry rug.

Grooming Brush $2 – $45 (One Time)
Cats are pretty good at cleaning themselves, but brushing your feline friend can be a nice bonding time for both of you while keeping excess hair out of the home.

Woman pets cat while lying on a bed together

Pet insurance $10 – $50 (Monthly)
Pet insurance typically comes in two types: “Accident Only” and “Accident and Illness”. It’s best to know if your cat has any pre-existing conditions before choosing a plan, and always make sure that your plan is compatible with your veterinarian.

Pet First Aid Kit $10 – $110 (One Time)
Accidents happen, and if your cat is curious, you’re bound to see an occasional injury, so having a first aid kit at the ready can make all the difference.

GPS Tracker $25 – $800 (One Time w/ Possible Subscription)
GPS locators have gone down in both price and size over the past few years, but you should still know what you’re paying for before making the investment. The more time your cat spends outside of the house, the more invaluable this device can be.

Travel Harness $5 – $20 (One Time)
Yup, you can put a harness on your cat and take them along with you on adventures.

Pet Boarding/Daycare $35 – $100 (Daily)
Having a cat doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to long trips and getaways, but unless you have a friend or family member that can care for your pet, you’ll want to invest in a service that will give your kitty care, attention and exercise while you’re away.

Microchip $30 - $50 (One Time)
If the unthinkable happens and your cat gets out goes missing, an implanted microchip might be the last resort if they’re rescued and brought to a veterinarian or shelter.