Special Report

Dogs Are the Second Most Expensive Pets in America

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that 42 million American households have a dog, and 31 million have a cat. Only about 1.6 million own one or more horses, but that’s understandable, not only because horses need far more room than household pets but also because, according to the 2022 Pet Price Guide published by Cats.com, the total lifetime cost of owning a horse ranges between $71,642 and $586,825.

Perhaps surprisingly, however, the second most expensive pet to own in America, at least potentially, is a dog – with a total lifetime cost of at least $5,490 and as much as $58,950.

While horses – and more exotic pets, like palm cockatoos (which can cost up to $16,000) – may be expensive to purchase, dogs can be expensive to own. Some of these expenses may not be obvious at first. Dog toys can cost as much as $1,200 a year. Feeding a dog can cost just as annually. (If you’re worried about getting a dog who’s a picky eater, check this list of the 35 most difficult dog breeds in America.)

Other costs of owning a dog are variable. One is insurance, which can run as high as $1,200 a year, and routine healthcare can add $300 to the yearly bill.

When added together, the costs to own a dog over its lifetime can be as low as $5,040, and as high as $54,950. The median annual personal income of an American is $37,552, which puts the cost of owning a dog into perspective. (These are America’s most popular dogs.)

Click here to see the 15 pets that can cost you the most

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