The Lifetime Cost of Pets

Teaching Tip:  If you can show the Infographic the “Lifetime Cost of Pets,” you can begin this discussion by asking which students have, or are considering, adopting a pet.  Then ask everyone in class to write down a guess as to what they think the lifetime cost of fish, a rabbit, a cat, and a dog might be.  From there, show the Infographic and let the class discussion begin.

If you’re in college now, chances are that you either have a pet or you’re going to get one.  After all, pets are comforting, and you’re away from home.  And let’s face it, you can probably get one pretty cheap.

There’s no question pets are great, but they come with a lifetime commitment as well as with some serious financial responsibilities.  If you’re like most people, it’s pretty hard towrap your head around the idea of a lifetime commitment let alone to look at a cute little puppy or kitty and see future financial responsibilities.  So what are those financial responsibilities?  If it’s a horse, according to the New York Times article “Animal Lovers, Beware of Ownership Costs,” you are looking at about $42,000 per year, and it doesn’t matter if you paid $500 or $1 million for the horse.  But most students don’t go for a horse, they generally bring home dogs or cats, and on occasion they’ll go for a bird or a tank of fish.  As we learned in Personal Finance Turning Money into Wealth, Principle 6: Waste Not, Want Not – Smart-Spending Matters, you really shouldn’t be buying something, or adopting a pet, when you don’t know the true cost.

The ASCPA provides a financial breakdown of the annual costs of caring for a variety of pets at its Pet Care Costs website.  In addition,, using data from the ASCPA, has put together a great Infographic on the “Lifetime Cost of Pets.”

Discussion questions:

  1. Have you ever adopted a pet, if so what kind, and in the process of choosing your pet did you give consideration to the cost of pet ownership?
  2. What do you think the lifetime costs of a cat are?  How about a dog?
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