What Are the Annual Costs of Pet Ownership?

pet costs
A little over a year and a half – my wife came to me with a request to purchase a pet rabbit. Having only experience with cats, I knew very little about how to care for one or even what their annual expenses might be. To top it off, my wife wanted the bunny to be a “house” rabbit. What? The only way I had seen rabbits as pets was in outdoor cages. I'd never seen one in a house. Don't they poop all over the place? Needless to say, I was not gung-ho about the proposition. 

Well – the wife finally got her wish  and soon-after, we welcomed a cute little dutch rabbit into the house. It didn't take too long to warm up to the little lady. She was spayed/neutered and (thankfully) potty-trained. It was almost like having a cat around the house – except for the scratching, meowing and naughty messes.

Now that its been over a year, we can look back at some of the costs associated with raising her. And it was no surprise that our bunny was expensive!

Here are a few fun facts about America and our love for pets:

  • American's spent over $50 billion on pets in 2011
  • Of that expense, almost $20 billion is for food
  • 62% of American households own a pet (about 73 million homes)
  • Pet ownership is up 56% since 1988
  • Big name companies including Paul Mitchell, Omaha Steaks, Origins, Harley Davidson and Old Navy are now offering lines of pet products
  • In 2011, dogs were the most popular pet, followed by cats, freshwater fish, birds, small animals and reptiles
And, it seems to me, we are starting to see pets getting the “royal treatment”. Hotels are starting to adopt policies to accommodate their stay and green/eco-friendly pet products are gaining popularity.

The most expensive pets

I thought it would be interesting to see if any one had compiled an “official” ranking associated with annual pet care costs – and what were the most expensive animals to keep. I searched online and found The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). They have a great website that has loads of information on pets and also has a chart detailing annual pet costs.

So, getting back to the poll – what pet did you think was the most expensive? Now, this one is going to surprise you. Of the animals listed above – the rabbit had the most expensive annual pet care expense. Can you believe that?

Here's a run-down of those costs, per the ASPCA:







 Food   $120   $115   $190   $105   $20
 Recurring Medical   $235   $160   $70   $70
 Litter   $165   $415   $415
 Toys/Treats   $55   $25   $40   $30
 License   $15
 Health Insurance   $225   $175
 Misc   $45   $30   $15   $15   $15
 Annual Total   $695   $670   $730 $635  $35

I'm glad we didn't get health insurance for the little lady! That would have really thrown the figures out of whack.

How do you keep costs down?

If you are a pet owner – and have one of the preceding animals, how do you keep costs down? I know for us – this past summer, my wife started growing her own greens to feed the bunny. With food costs going up – this is something we'll probably continue to do.

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  1. Laughing.. I have been a mother to dogs and currently am mothering a few more guinea pigs then I’d like. With first GP quite a few years ago she lived 8 years never needed medical care, and with current well it depends if you use newspaper (erases the 415 here) or litter and medical care let see one cost over $300 wonder if thats why her mom( my daughter joined Army Reserves)? we had goldfish and the constant filter costs and drops for water was alot. I know your averaging one pet. oh my the way. Congratutions on your bunny, remember like the Guinea pig thier life is longer on average if its kept indoors not outside. My GPs are indoors or my kids and now they are mine because kids are grown. lol

  2. Cats are a good choice. Pets are good for your blood pressure too. All animals desserve a fighting chance. You cannot put a price on love. Love is priceless.

    • I agree Lisa..

  3. The cost to own our dog is high but well worth it. I will try and buy his food when I see a Petsmart or Petco coupon. Outside of that it’s not easy to keep the cost down.

    • @TheSavingsBlog – I love fish too – they are fun to watch!
      @Sean – For sure – pets provide a lot of warm fuzzies/love. :)

  4. I have a Discuss fish in my living room, i really love fishes. Soon i am gonna get me a Arowana.

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