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How to Budget For Your Pets

by Carrie Lowrance

Congratulations, you’ve decided to get a pet. Maybe your parents have agreed to let you get a pet; however, you have to pay for half of its expenses. Everyone loves animals including puppies, kittens, and also grown up cats and dogs.

Some people even love senior animals. I’m one of them. However, once you get past all that furry cuteness, you need to sit down and think about the cost of caring for your new fur baby.

Obviously, there are the basics that you will need like a leash, collar, food/water dish, litter box with scoop, food, toys, and a bed. However, some of these basics can become expensive. Here is a rundown on some visible and not so obvious things you will need to budget for.


Not every animal can eat pet food from the grocery store. If you get a kitten or puppy, they will most likely be able to eat pet food from the store. I think this is normal for most animals. However, it’s not always this way.

Sometimes an animal will need prescription food from the vet. All of the cats I have owned have been on prescription food from the vet. My current cat Colin is on both dry and wet prescription food for his weight, and it is not cheap. 

If I have to order both wet and dry at the same time, it costs me about $85.00. I try to stagger these as much as possible. Sometimes animals have special conditions that need special food. My former cat, Carlton, had chronic kidney disease and it was essential for him to have food formulated for his kidney issues.


Most people use clumping clay litter. This is what I use for Colin, and it costs about $8 for a 20 lb jug. Our rabbit, however, gets special litter. She is a litter box and liberty trained, meaning she will only go to the bathroom in her house.

I buy her Yesterday’s News which is a paper litter, and it costs $18.99 for a 30 lb bag. Although this is suggested for cats, a regular clumping cat litter should suffice for your needs.

Food/Water Bowls

I highly suggest getting stainless steel bowls for your new baby. Why? My former cat, Carlton, was using plastic bowls and wound up getting feline acne.

Our vet recommended getting stainless steel bowls because they are easier to clean and sanitize. These can range from $2.99-$20 (depending on size).

Flea and Tick Prevention

There are all kinds of flea and tick protection that you can buy. There are collars, chews (for dogs only) and topical liquids. I buy Frontline for Colin, and a three pack costs me $34.99, a six pack costs me $63.99.

I’m not sure how much flea n tick chews are for dogs. The bottom line here is, it basically comes down to your preference for your pet. Still, regardless of what you choose, don’t skip it.


In my experience, my animals, in general, have not had much medication. The only exception we had was our former rabbit, Boots, who was on liquid phenobarbital for his seizures.

However, I know some human pharmacies can fill prescriptions for your pets and Chewy can fill prescriptions also.

As far as cost, I think it depends on what it is. Still, this is something you will have to take into consideration. I would say if you save $20 a month, you should have enough to cover any meds your pet may need.

Registration/Rabies Shots/Tags

Some states require you to register your pet. This usually happens either once a year or every three years, depending on what time frame you choose in regards to a rabies shot.

I always get the three-year rabies shot which means I get a new tag for Colin every three years. I pay around $27 for a rabies shot and $12 for registration, but it will depend on where you live. Prices vary.

Vet Care

This will be the number one most significant expense when it comes to taking care of your pet. Exams, nail trims, blood work, and unexpected visits can add up pretty quickly.

In my experience, I have paid between $40-$60 for an exam, $154-$250 for blood work, and between $12-$26 for a nail trim.  I don’t say these things to scare you or talk you out of a pet, I’m just being real. However, do some research before you pick a veterinarian. Call different offices and get price quotes and look at reviews online. 

Ask your friends and family who they use. With a little extra leg work, you can find the perfect vet at a reasonable price. I love our vet. She is a mobile vet that comes to us, and her prices are very reasonable. Our rabbit has her own vet, and they are lovely too. I’m so glad we found both of them.


You will have to get your pet a carrier to transport them in. You can find all kinds of colors and sizes on Chewy. I recently bought Colin one, and I love it.

Scratching Pad

If you get a cat, and they have claws, they will need somewhere to scratch. Chances are, you won’t want that being your bedroom door or your furniture. You can buy cardboard scratching pads at Walmart and Chewy.

Don’t want all the mess? Check out the cat scratching toy on Petozy. It has a cute mouse shape, is made from durable materials, and won’t make a shredded cardboard mess.

Emergency Fund

Another good idea is to start a pet emergency fund. Set up a separate savings account and start putting away money for if your animal has an emergency. You may even want to get a different debit card for this as well. 

As far as how much to save, this all depends on your budget. Pick a certain amount a month and stick to it. Don’t feel bad if you have to start small, every little bit helps. This way, if you do have an emergency, you will be able to pay for it with cash.

As you can see, there are many things you have to think about and budget for when you have a pet. However, with a little research, you can get what you need at a price that will fit your budget.

Sit down beforehand and make a “pet budget” so you have an idea how much you can spend on your animal every month. Now go out and find your perfect furry companion, they are waiting on you.

Carrie Lowrance is a writer and author. Her work has been featured on Huffington PostThe Penny Hoarder, & Crosswalk. She is also the author of two children’s books, Don’t Eat Your Boogers and Brock’s Bad Temper. You can find out more about Carrie and her writing at

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