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By: and
Published: Sep 14, 2023 11 min read

Money may not be able to buy you happiness, but it can buy treats, toys and training for your furry four-legged friend — and that’s basically the same thing.

Pet ownership is a serious financial commitment, especially when inflation is as high as it currently is. But even with mounting day-to-day costs and the temptation to splurge on a growing roster of boutique services, you don't have to go broke to be a good pet parent.

How much do pets cost to support each year?

First-year expenses tend to be the highest, since you’ll likely have to buy new gear and supplies, pay adoption fees and — if you’re adopting a young pet — shell out for medical expenses like spay/neuter procedures, microchipping and vaccinations. After the first year, you’ll pay an average of $1,000 annually per dog, and slightly less for a cat. An emergency vet visit can add thousands of dollars to this estimate.

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How to save money on pets: 7 tips for pet parents

If you’re the proud parent of a dog or cat, here are some easy ways to cut day-to-day costs.

1. Weigh the costs and benefits of pet insurance

Pet insurance rates vary by location, breed and scope of coverage. But a typical policy starts at about $50 a month for dogs and about $30 a month for cats, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

Pet insurance plans don’t cover routine or preventative care, like vaccinations or teeth cleaning. And you’ll have to spend enough money out-of-pocket to meet your deductible (typically about $500). After you hit that amount, you’ll still owe a percentage of the remaining costs (between 10% and 30%, depending on your coverage).

Is pet insurance worth it? It depends. A 2021 Money analysis of pet insurance rates and vet costs found the odds are low for collecting on insurance if your dog or cat has a “normal” medical life without pre-existing conditions or major illnesses. Even minor accidents may not add up to enough to meet your annual deductible: According to a survey from the American Pet Products Association, cat owners spend an average of $170 to $255 a year on vet visits for surgery, sickness or an emergency. For dogs, the averages range from $285 to $460. So insurance is most likely to pay off if your pet develops a serious illness or has a major accident.