Wonder How Much Lifetime Care for Pets Costs? Here Are the Numbers

A new study conducted by Synchrony reveals the costs of lifetime care for cats and dogs – and provides valuable insights into better budgeting for your pets and their care, from costs of food to medical expenses.


Being a pet parent is one of the greatest things in the world, but with great love comes great responsibility. A lot of people rush into the decision of getting a cat or a dog, completely unaware of the actual costs for their care throughout their life. Spoiler alert: it’s not just kibble and the occasional toy you’ll have to spend money on. This is why, before getting a pet, you should, at least, have a general idea of the expenses you’ll have so you can make sure that you’re financially ready for a four-legged friend as much as you are emotionally. Because, as it turns out, not many people are aware of the actual lifetime care costs for pets.


According to the Lifetime of Care study by Synchrony, nearly a half of surveyed pet owners underestimate the expenses of their pet’s lifetime cost of care – and one out of every three pet owners has faced an unexpected pet expense that put a strain on their finances and caused stress and worry. These financial stressors could be anything from emergency surgeries to chronic illnesses that can quickly rack up vet bills. The study includes findings from 1,200 pet owners and 100 veterinarians and was conducted on behalf of Synchrony’s pet and vet financial solutions, CareCredit and Pets Best Pet Insurance, in an effort to provide prospective pet parents with facts rather than just vague information and help them properly budget for their cat or a dog.


The study indicates that the costs in the first year alone are around $1,300 to $2,800 for a dog, and slightly less for a cat – $960 to $2,500. Taking a period of 15 years as the average lifespan of most cats and dogs, this translates into $19,893 to $55,132 for dogs and $15,055 to $45,790 for cats. The calculations included expenses such as food, medical care, treats, toys, supplies, accessories – and the first-year expenses that cover the basics such as microchipping, spaying or neutering, adoption fees, etc.


The lack of concrete information about lifetime care costs before this study often led to unfortunate situations – many pet parents end up struggling to compromise between the care their pet needs and what they can afford. It’s an incredibly difficult position and some previous studies have indicated that about 50% of pet owners had to go into debt to be able to afford their pet’s vet bills. It doesn’t surprise, then, that the study concludes with over a half of surveyed pet owners saying they would use a credit card dedicated to financing care for their pet, both to provide increased care and to be prepared in case of emergencies.


Whether something like a pet credit card, pet insurance, or a rainy day fund for your four-legged bestie sounds good, it all comes down to the same thing – sooner or later, there will be an unexpected cost of pet care and you should be prepared for it. And the first step to being prepared for the unexpected is having a clearer idea of the actual costs of lifetime care for your cat or a dog – so this in-depth study makes an excellent starting point!

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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