The Cost of Pet Ownership

Marci Thomas

July 28th, 2015 | Posted in Money Tips

Your daughter begs and begs you for a puppy at least 14 times a day. She says it will help her learn responsibility, and you think, well, maybe she has a point. She’ll feed it, take it for walks, and play with it – but other than the upfront ‘adoption’ fee, how much does it cost to own a pet?

Parakeets and finches are popular choices for pet birds, and they cost between $15 and $70 at a pet store. You’ll need a cage, toys, and seeds. Cages are around $70, and toys and seeds will cost around $100 per year. Birds can have medical problems, just like any pet, so make sure to take it to routine vet check-ups (at least once a year). The annual cost of bird ownership is around $175 a year, after the initial investment. Parakeets can live up to 18 years with proper care.

Hamsters and gerbils are often a first option for pet ownership, since they are relatively easy to care for, and they don’t cost a lot up front. The largest expense with these small pets is bedding. Wood chips are around $15 a bag, need to be changed every week or so, and a bag will last around a month. The pet itself will cost around $10-20, a cage will cost $40-$60, toys (like hamster wheels and chew toys) around $25, wood chips around $150 per year, and food around $50 per year. The average first year cost is around $350, with annual cost around $260. Gerbils and hamsters live approximately two to three years.

Rabbits can cost quite a bit more than their tiny rodent counterparts. Since rabbits reproduce so quickly, it’s important to get them spayed or neutered to avoid common medical problems like urinary tract infections and reproductive cancers – it usually costs about $160, but it can be cheaper at an animal shelter. The cost of a rabbit at a pet store is typically significantly higher than adopting from a shelter, and shelters often have rabbits available since many families “gift” rabbits for Easter, then realize they are not low maintenance pets. Average price is $15 – $100.
Other initial expenses include a cage and bedding ($125), toys ($40) and grooming tools ($20). You’ll need to buy high-fiber pellets for them to chew on, since rabbits’ teeth grow continuously, and if not kept in check, will grow too long for them to eat – costing you more in vet bills. Take your bunny in for a yearly check-up, which will cost around $70. Providing a balanced diet of hay, fresh vegetables and pellets will cost around $190 per year, with littler and bedding costing around $400 annually. First-year costs are estimated at $1,050, with an annual cost of $650. Rabbits typically live 10-12 years.