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How Much Does Pet Ownership Cost Per Month?

Updated on April 6, 2012

The cost of keeping a pet varies hugely from species to species and breed to breed. Some of it depends on luck as to whether you incur unusually large veterinary costs for example.

For the scope of this article I am including the costs of maintaining the pet on a day to day basis and not including start up costs and cost of purchase of the pet. Figures are based on my experience with current pets and cost of pet food and veterinary care local to Burnley. For dogs and cats I am including the cost of insurance as an option for evening out some of the veterinary costs.

It should be noted that breed, age and what you are covered for. There is always an excess which you have to pay before the insurance kicks in. And insurance rarely covers the cost of vaccinations, flea and worm treatment or dental care.

I have not factored in the costs of wear and tear on your house. Bizarre accidents are possible any time with pets. I once returned home to find my aquarium had mysteriously cracked in my absence killing my fish and flooding my living room carpet beyond redemption. Also not factored in are the cost of transporting your pet to and from the vets and the cost of toys and treats which are non essentials or care whilst you go on holiday because you may not go away or could take your pet with you. These things all add up, but I rather suspect that most of us pet owners try to avoid doing adding up of this kind!

Please note that in the costs table the USA cost is not based on USA prices, but on a £/$ conversion on the UK cost of £1:$1.58

The Monthly Cost Of Keeping Small Finches

Examples of commonly kept small finches are Zebra Finches and Bengalese finches. You need to count the cost of keeping two rather then one because they would be unhappy on their own. In the UK the cost of 1lb of foreign finch seed mix is around £1.00. Feed 1/2 ounce/bird/day works out at £1.87 for two of them per month.

Other very occasional costs are for cuttlebone, grit and the odd treat such as millet sprays. Maximum cost £2/month. You are unlikely to need much veterinary treatment for them, because they are inclined to die quickly if they get ill. Set aside £24/year or £2.00/month just in case.

Total Cost for two Zebra finches for a month is £5.87

Zebra Finches
Zebra Finches | Source

The Monthly Cost of Keeping a Terrapin or Turtle

In the UK terrapins are best kept indoors in a large aquarium or indoor pond. This makes costs a little harder to calculate because as well as food you have to factor in for electricity costs of your aquarium heater, filter and light.

Food Costs for an adult terrapin. My red eared slider terrapins do very well on a diet of frozen blood worm and soaked cat biscuits. They each eat 1 pack of blood worm per month at £2.00 per pack and 1oz of Go Cat biscuits per week. A 33oz box costs £2.25. So this works out at 0.28p per month. Total monthly food bill for one adult is £2.28

Electricity Consumption - I have based my figures for energy consumption on those found at http://www.cryer.co.uk/brian/misc/how_much_electricity.htm and from my electricity bill where I pay an average of 16p per kWh

The terrapin heater is 100 watts and runs 24hr/day, using 67kWh/month - £10.72 The terrapin heat lamp is 40 watts and runs 8hrs/day using 12kWh/month - £1.92 The terrapin filter is 16 watts and runs 24hr/day using 10kWh/month - £1.60

Total terrapin electricity consumption/month £14.24

Veterinary Costs - I have found terrapins to be extremely hardy animals and I've only needed the vet once for them in 24 years. To be on the safe side factor £2.00/month for vet care.

Total cost of keeping the terrapin for a month is £18.52

Red Eared Slider Terrapins or Turtles
Red Eared Slider Terrapins or Turtles | Source

The Monthly Cost of Keeping a Rabbit

This will vary depending on the size of your rabbit as they range from small breeds such as the Netherland Dwarf pictured weighing 2lb to the Continental Giant Coloured at 14lb. Food Costs will increase with size of rabbit. I shall base this on the cost of care for the commonly kept Dutch rabbit weighing 4lbs. I feed my rabbits Burgess Excel pellets. A dutch rabbit would need 2oz of this per day. It costs £3.95 for a 70oz bag. This gives you a feed cost of £3.39 per month. In addition feed 1 small pack of hay/month at £2.00

Bedding Costs: Wood shavings for bedding £1.00/week. Straw for Bedding £0,50/week This is based on buying small pet shop quantities rather then getting a big bale from your local farm animal feed store.

Veterinary Costs

Vaccination against myxomatosis and rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease £55/yr £4.58 per month. It is also worth factoring in for other veterinary treatment as rabbits may well need it. Add £3.00/month for this.

Your total cost of keeping the rabbit for a month is £18.97

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit | Source

The Monthly Cost of Keeping a Cat

The main variable with cats is whether you keep them inside or outside. Indoor cats will make frequent use of the litter tray, so cat litter is a cost. A £1.50 bag of litter lasts my indoor cat 10 days, so would cost £4.50/month.

Cat Food - An average cat weighs 8.8lbs and will need 2.5oz of 'Iams' - the food I feed my cats per day. This food costs £15.00/6lb.6oz bag so works out at 37.5p per day or 11.25 per month

Annual Veterinary costs: Vaccinations £50, Worming £12.00, Flea treatment £20.00 This adds up to £6.83/month

Cat insurance for veterinary costs - Homebase cat insurance are offering £2000/yr of cover for a non pedigree cat from £4.79/month. The excess is £75.00, so you may take your cat to the vet for a minor infection and be charged £50.00 which you have to pay even though you have insurance. Therefore I allocate a further £50.00/year for veterinary fees or £4.16/month.

Your total monthly cost for the cat's veterinary treatment is £15.78

The total cost for keeping the cat for a month is £26.74

Tortoiseshell Cat
Tortoiseshell Cat | Source

The Monthly Cost of Keeping a Dog

Costs will vary between breeds due to amount of food needed and veterinary bills - breeds such as the shar pei are particularly expensive to insure and more prone to breeding veterinary treatment. For this purpose I am considering the costs of keeping a 44lb labrador.

Food. I feed my labrador 12oz of Dr John Silver dog food each day. This costs £10.00/33lb sack which works out at £6.81/month He also eats 1 medium tin of Chappie/week at £0.90 each. Total feed cost £10.41/month

Other Costs - you can't really do without a collar and lead and these are prone to wear and tear, so I would set aside £2.00/month for replacing these.

Annual Veterinary costs: Vaccinations £40, Worming £12.00, Flea treatment £28.00 This adds up to £6.60/month

Dog insurance for veterinary costs - Homebase dog insurance are offering £5000/yr of cover for an adult labrador, based on my details for £10.81/month. The excess is £75.00, so you may take your dog to the vet for a minor infection and be charged £50.00 which you have to pay even though you have insurance. Therefore I allocate a further £50.00/year for veterinary fees or £4.16/month. Total vet costs per month is £21.57

Total cost for keeping the labrador for a month is £33.98

Labrador Retriever - perhaps contemplating an expensive visit to the vets!
Labrador Retriever - perhaps contemplating an expensive visit to the vets! | Source

Table of Monthly Care Cost for Pet Species

Species
Costs Included
UK Cost/month
USA dollar equivalent/month
Zebra Finch
Food, vet bills, extras
£5.87
$9.27
Terrapin or Turtle
Food, vet bills, electricity
£18.52
$29.26
Dutch Rabbit
Food, bedding, Vet bills
£18.97
$29.97
Cat
Food, cat litter, vet bills, insurance
£26.74
$42.24
Labrador Dog
Food, extras, vet bills, insurance
£33.98
$53.68
UK figures are based on costs in Burnley, Lancashire. USA figure is purely based on £:$ conversion of 1:1.58

Conclusion

So now we know where all my money goes! There are savings (of a sort) to be made, for example I actually keep 4 terrapins in the same aquarium which means I could divide the electricity consumption by 4 which makes the cost per terrapin cheaper, but of course - more food is then needed. You can reduce small animal bedding costs if you have room to store a big bale of shavings - one of these costs £6.00 from my local farm animal feed store and would last 1 dutch rabbit a year. But that aside, I think most pet owners feel repaid ten fold for the financial cost of our animals by the pleasure we get from their companionship.

Useful Extra Reading

Foreign Finches in Captivity (2nd Edition Reprint)
Foreign Finches in Captivity (2nd Edition Reprint)

Care of foreign finches such as the zebra finch

 
Turtles and Tortoises For Dummies
Turtles and Tortoises For Dummies

How to care for turtles or terrapins and tortoises

 
Rabbitlopaedia: A Complete Guide to Rabbit Care (Complete Guide To... (Ringpress Books))
Rabbitlopaedia: A Complete Guide to Rabbit Care (Complete Guide To... (Ringpress Books))

Hard to say the title, but a good guide to caring for your pet rabbit

 

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    • itakins profile image

      itakins 5 years ago from Irl

      Incredibly thorough article - now to explain about the recession to my menagerie:)

    • brittanytodd profile image

      Brittany Kennedy 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      What a fabulous hub! This is exactly what I was hoping someone would do with my question. Thank you for answering it in such depth. Good luck on the contest! Great work, voted up, shared, etc.

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 5 years ago from Ohio

      I knew it! Thanks for putting in writing what my subconscious knew all along. I love animals, but since when I moved out of my parent's I never wanted a pet, I thought because I did not have the time to take proper care of pets, but maybe I did not have the money either! :)

    • Nettlemere profile image
      Author

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Thank you itakins, brittany and Robie. It certainly is a pricey hobby. I must admit to being quite surprised at the amount when I worked out the electricity cost of terrapins.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      This is a very informative Hub. I have a miniature schnauzer, and she is high maintenance. She is allergic to fleas, grasses, and other stuff. Even with pet insurance, she costs me a bundle. I've never figured it out exactly. I'll vote this UP, etc.

    • Nettlemere profile image
      Author

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Thank you Mary - I really sympathise with the expense of your vet costs and you're absolutely right about insurance not covering everything by a long chalk. Good thing dogs are so darned appealing and god at wrapping us round their paws!

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