How Much Our Pets Cost in a Lifetime

A look at the cost of pets during their lifetimes

Do You Know How Much Your Pets Really Cost?

Sure, you love your pet. But do you know how much you are spending to meet your pets' needs?

The Cost of Dogs

A small dog isn't the most expensive pet in the world, but they certainly cost a lot. Every year, you can expect to spend at least $400, and that's provided your pet doesn't have any serious health problems. During the first year, you can expect to spend $780, and with the life expectancy of a small dog averaging 14 years, your expenses add up to the tune of $5,980.

As you might expect, a medium dog carries higher costs per year. They don't live quite as long, so the total cost isn't much more than with a small dog. With a $545 annual cost and a $1,115 first-year expense, you might expect to pay a lot more, but with a life expectancy averaging 11 years, to the lifetime expenses average to $6,565 for a medium-sized dog.

And if you think a large dog means large expenses, you are correct. Big dogs tend to cost a lot more, and their average life expectancy is close to medium dogs. Big dogs cost $700 a year, with first year expenses adding up to a whopping $1,500. Over the life of your big guy or gal, that comes to $7,800. But the slobber and attention are free!

The Cost of Cats

Cats have a long life expectancy and are needy pets. They require litter, litter boxes, toys and a carrier. But, since they are small, they don't eat much. Would you believe the average cat costs $500 a year, with $640 in first-year costs? Cats have an average life expectancy of 15 years, meaning over the life of the average cat, you'll need $7,640. Is that too much to pay to be ignored? It's up to you.

The Cost of Rabbits

Rabbits are popular pets because they are fluffy ,soft and tasty. Oops, hold the tasty part. While they are cute, they are also expensive. They eat a lot and need a lot of specialized litter. Rabbits live an average of 10 years and have annual costs of $675. That first year can be rough, though, with expenses of $885. Over the life of a rabbit, you can expect to pay $6,960. And if you let them roam around inside, you made need new carpet every few years.

The Cost of Small Pets

If you want a small pet that you can actually pet without being bit or slobbered on, a guinea pig is a good choice. Those guys may be small, but they can cost you big per year. You can expect to pay $565 per year, more than a medium dog, and to pay $645 the first year. How could a guinea pig cost that much to maintain? You won't believe it! Click on the graphic to see what the single biggest cost is. However, with just a five-year life expectancy, a guinea pig won't eat into that college fund. A guinea pig will cost just $2,905 over its lifetime. Not bad for a furry rodent.

The Cost of Birds

Cockatoos look great at a pet store. They're large, magnificent birds, yes. They are beautiful, and yes, they are relatively smart. If you have $1,035 a year after spending $1,535 the first year, then they are no problem. Unlike guinea pigs, cats and dogs, they live for 50 years and may cost you a total of $52,250 or more.

If you want a bird but also want to retire, a small bird may be the answer. Small birds eat like birds and cost you little each year. After $170 the first year, owning a small bird will cost you just $95. With an average 10-year life expectancy, expect to pay $1,025. That's probably less than you'll spend on lattes, and the bird won't add to your waistline.

The Best Deal: Fish

Still too much? There is indeed a cheaper pet. A fish will cost you $185 the first year and $35 each year after that. You'll have more money left in your paycheck for other expenses. Over 10 years, that comes to just $500. They don't soil the rug or demand to be scratched behind the ears. Maybe a fish is a pretty good deal.