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How to Budget for Adopting a Pet

September 3, 2020

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Thanks to COVID-19, we’re all spending a bit more time at home. And pet adoptions are skyrocketing

If you’re ready to jump on the bandwagon, let us help you do a little pet adoption budgeting. 

Initial pet costs

Adopting or buying

If you’re going to adopt a shelter animal, you’re going to save some money. Don’t spend more than a few hundred dollars to bring your new furry family member home. 

Some shelters will give you your new pet for free. Others charge a fee (up to a few hundred dollars), but that may include spaying or neutering and some vaccinations.

If you have to go with a specialty breed, it’s going to cost you—easily in the thousands.

Research the breed to get an idea of what you’ll have to pay. 

If you need to travel to get your pet, you’ll want to include gas, flight, and pet accommodations into your budget, too.

Initial vaccinations, procedures, and medications

If your pet isn’t spayed or neutered, that goes into your budget. 

This can cost anywhere from $20 and $500. Those costs apply to both cats and dogs.

Ask your shelter if they can do it for you, it’ll be much cheaper than a visit to the vet. 

Ask the shelter or breeder what shots and vaccines your pet has received and what treatments you’ll need to see a vet for. Then call your vet and total the costs.


You’re going to need to make your home pet friendly. 

You won’t need all of these, but these are the big considerations:

  • Crate or bed

  • Leash

  • Collar or harness

  • ID tag

  • Toys or scratching posts

  • Litter box (for cats)

  • Poop bags (for dogs)

  • Grooming tools

  • Treats

  • Food bowls (and possibly a mat for under them, if your pet’s a messy eater)

Microchipping and licensing

Most states require pet owners to register their pets with a local government agency. Usually, this licensing only costs about $20.

You also might want to consider microchipping your pet so you can find them if they get lost. Microchipping usually costs between $50 and $100. 

Recurring pet costs


Plan to spend about $50 a month for dogs and $30 a month for cats. 

But leave some wiggle room here. 

Some animals will need special diets (e.g., grain-free or prescription food) or are picky eaters. Specialty food almost always costs more. 

Litter (for cats)

Litter shouldn’t be a huge expense, but budget around $15 a month for it. 

Pet insurance

We recommend getting pet insurance.

Like visiting a hospital, visiting your vet is expensive. Sometimes insurance can be the difference between saving your pet’s life and your hard-earned savings.

Pick a plan that includes emergency care and medications. This usually costs $25-75 per month for dogs and $10-50 per month for cats. 

Pet sitting 

Think about where you’ll leave your pet if you need to travel without them. 

If you’ve got a friend or family member who can take your furry friend, great. If not, figure out how much pet boarding costs in your area. 

Pet rent and/or reduced deposit

If you’re a renter, your landlord might charge you monthly pet rent. This can range from $50-$100 a month, but is up to your landlord.

Also take into account the amount you’ll have to pay out of your security deposit if your pet damages the house. 

Keeping your pet budget moving forward

If you get pet insurance, the adoption process should be the most expensive part of the process. 

But owning a pet comes with uncertainty. 

They may have you rushing to the emergency vet in the middle of the night. They may need pricey prescription food. 

Add a budget line for your pet to your monthly budget. That way, you can track expenses. 

Plan ahead and be ready to put a little extra work in on the front end, so you can enjoy your new family member without any financial stress. 

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank (“Bank”). Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).


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Kacie Goff

Kacie Goff

Kacie Goff has over five years of experience writing personal finance content for a wide range of audiences. She's always loved taking complex concepts and distilling them down so they're more accessible to others. As she creates content, she aims to educate and engage, helping people discover that successfully managing their money can be easier than they ever imagined. Over the last five years, she’s also covered personal and commercial insurance, home design, health and wellness, and more for publications including Bankrate, Freshome, The Simple Dollar, and websites of a broad variety of businesses. Her brand is Jot Content (

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