It's estimated that 62% of U.S. households own a pet. That's 72.9 million homes with more than $50 billion spent on their pets in 2011. Of that $50 billion, $20.5 billion was spent on food, $12.6 billion on medicine and $13.6 billion on vet care. Other expenses include the purchase of the animal and services like grooming and boarding. Different types of pets vary in terms of their maintenance costs.
You might have owned a hamster as a child and plan to purchase one for your children. Hamsters are cheap to own, but you'll spend an average of $160 on the cage, toys, the hamster and other first-year supplies. Monthly expenses include food, bedding, and litter which will cost between $100 and $150 annually.
Ferrets have gained popularity because of their reputation of being more independent than dogs, but more playful than cats. However, don't expect the price-tag of a hamster. You'll likely pay between $100 and $200 to purchase the pet and more than $500 your first year. After that, expect to pay between $300 and $700 each year.
You can purchase a finch for as low as $10, but if you're looking for an exotic bird like a parrot or Macaw, be prepared to spend $450 to $800 or more. Other costs include the cage and other first year supplies like veterinary care and feeding. Medium sized birds will average $65 per month for food.
Fish, like dogs, have widely varying costs. A single goldfish will cost very little, but a saltwater aquarium could be thousands of dollars. A basic freshwater aquarium including all supplies, except the fish, will cost around $300. Basic saltwater aquariums will cost closer to $700 and complex saltwater reef systems may run as much as $1,300 and up. Fish, like the aquariums, vary in cost from $1 for goldfish to $100 or more for saltwater fish.
Some people prefer cats to dogs because they're often lower maintenance, but are they cheaper? The cost to buy a cat can vary and it depends on where you get it from and the type of breed. Also, you'll spend between $600 and $1,100 the first year which includes the preventative veterinary care, toys, bedding, food and other supplies. After the first year, expect to pay between $375 and $750 each year over the average 14-year lifespan of the cat.
Man's best friend is the most popular pet to own in America, but the expenses associated with owning a dog vary by breed. Small- and medium-sized dogs average $500 to $875 per year. The total cost over the average 14 year life of a dog is between $7,200 and $12,700. Larger dogs cost between $700 and $875 per year, but have a shorter average lifespan of eight years. Like cats, the initial purchase price all depends on the type of breed and where the dog is purchased from.
Pets can be expensive. The costs of owning even a small pet like a hamster or a ferret can add up. Americans spend billions on food, medicine and care for their pets each year. Hopefully this slideshow can you help you determine what type of pet is best for your budget.