How much does it cost to give a pet as a gift?

A cat sits under a decorated holiday tree

Imagine it: Your special someone approaches a wiggling box under a beautifully decorated tree and finds an adorable new furry family member inside the gift. Ahhh, the smiles, the tears, the puppy breath.

But before you jingle all the way down to the animal shelter, be sure you have considered the costs associated with a new pet and whether you or the giftee will be able to foot the bill.

So, how much does a new pet cost? At the low end, a dog or cat will likely cost around $450 in the first year.

Wait, what? The low end?

That’s right. But, where is all your money going? CSU veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Ruch Gallie breaks it down for us.

(Prices are estimated for the first year of owning a new dog or cat.)

Adoption fees

A pug wearing an antler headband.

Adoption fees — assuming you adopt, that is — vary depending on the shelter you adopt from, and can cost anywhere from 50 dollars to a couple hundred dollars based on the age and breed of the dog or cat.

Veterinary care

A little girl "listens" to a dog's heartbeat with a toy stethoscope

Making an appointment with your veterinarian should be one of the first steps you take after adopting your new pet (after all the kisses, loves and selfies, that is). Here are a few costs that you can potentially expect:

  • Veterinary visit: $48 to $80
  • Spay/neuter: Up to $650 for a dog, up to $300 for a cat
  • Vaccines: $200 for a dog, $180 for a cat
  • Dewormer: $45 for a dog, $35 for a cat
  • Parasite control (flea/tick): $40 to $180 for a dog, $40 to $80 for a cat

If you adopt your pet from a full-service shelter, however, your veterinarian will likely not need to provide all of these services.


A cat meows and text says "I'm hungry"

Pet food costs around 180 dollars per year for a dog or cat. If the new pet requires a special diet, however, pet food can cost anywhere from $180 to $1,500 each year.

Home essentials

A cat walks a dog around by a leash

The price of home essentials for your pet varies greatly, and depends on your budget and your pet’s needs.

  • Crate: $30 to $100 for a dog, $30 to $50 for a cat
  • Leash: $15 to $65 for a dog, $10 to $25 for a cat
  • Litter box: $10 to $150
  • Litter: $60 to $300 per year
  • Bedding: $25 to $400 for a dog, $25 to $400 for a cat
  • Collar/ID tag: Anywhere from $3 to $150 for a dog or cat
  • Food bowl: $5 to $50

Other costs

A dog pretends to read a book while sitting on a couch

These additional costs are also contingent on your finances, but should be seriously considered. After all, your new pet is officially part of your family.

  • Microchip: $25 to $50
  • Socialization classes: $120 to $350 for a dog, $100 to $350 for a cat
  • Pet insurance: On average, pet insurance can range from $5 to $30 a month, depending on the deductible. Purchasing six months to one year of pet health insurance would be a nice addition to your PAWdorable gift.
  • Grooming: If your new furry friend is exceptionally…furry, grooming could be an additional cost to consider.
  • Emergency visits: Emergencies sometimes happen, though we hope they never will. From parvovirus to those crazy household objects pets somehow manage to eat, it is always good to budget for an unplanned trip to a veterinary hospital.