Adding another dog or cat to the family costs more than just a bigger bag of food.

Eight years ago, I volunteered to walk dogs at the city animal shelter. At the time, I had two dogs: Toby (a chow/lab mix) and Bunny (a shepherd mix who hopped when she ran and looked like a coyote).

I started walking dogs on a Saturday. By Monday, I brought home a third dog.

I’d walked Fritz, a 9-month-old black retriever type, my first day. Then I saw him online, on the dreaded “kill list,” scheduled to be euthanized Monday afternoon. At the last minute, I adopted Fritz, renamed him Diego, and vowed to find the young pup a home.

I received a few calls from my “adopt me” flyers. A woman was interested, but when we met, Diego took one sniff and turned his back to her. Another family didn’t meet my standards.

A few weeks after I brought Diego home, he walked into the bathroom while I rested in a steamy bath and licked the water off my hand. He loves me, I thought. I have a fenced yard. What’s one more dog? The deal was done.

A year later, still volunteering at the shelter, I acquired another dog, a snippy 20-pounder that just needed someone to be patient and show her love. I loved Sunny and didn’t even try to find an adopter.

So I get it when someone holds a purring kitten or scratches the head of a dog that knows cute tricks and thinks, What’s one more pet?

If you can afford to add another dog or cat to the household, by all means, go for it. Before you sign those adoption papers, though, consider the entire cost of owning multiple pets.

1. Industrial-size food cost

When I had four dogs, I had to buy a 40-pound bag of dog food every week and a half, spending around $130 a month compared to the $45 it would have cost monthly for one dog.

2. Limited and more expensive housing

I own my home, so there’s no landlord to keep me on a leash. If you rent, many landlords charge “pet rent” from $25 to $50 for each pet. You’ll generally also pay an additional non-refundable pet deposit for each pet. Deposits can run from $250 to several hundred dollars per pet. Many landlords and complexes don’t allow multiple pets, so having more than one pet limits your choices.

3. Multiple vet bills

Sure, you can take your dogs and cats to low-cost clinics for vaccinations or to be spayed or neutered. In fact, if you have more than two pets, you’ll have no other choice unless you’re OK with spending hundreds of dollars a year for the whole bunch. With more animals, you also increase your chances of unexpected veterinary bills for illnesses or accidents.

4. Old pets are pricey

Bunny and Toby lived to be 15 and 18 years old, respectively. In their last few years, I spent several hundred dollars on blood work, recommended as part of annual exams for senior dogs. I spent around $5,000 on Toby over a 3-year period due to a couple of sudden illnesses, laser treatments for arthritic hips, glucosamine supplements for his joints, and various meds. Remember, costs for your pet will increase with age.

Tip: If you get two pets who are close in age, you’re looking at double old-pet costs in the future. When adding a pet, try to stagger their ages to save money down the road.

5. Travel costs increase

You’ll have to pay for boarding or a pet sitter unless you have some pet-sitting arrangement with a friend or family member. Some pet sitters charge $15 per visit plus $10 for each extra pet. I exchanged pet sitting services with a friend but could rarely travel when I had four dogs. If you don’t have such an arrangement, you can add hundreds of dollars to vacation expenses.

I’m down to just two dogs now — Diego and Sunny — and I’ll keep it that way, since I can’t afford more pets. Besides, I now have time to give these two the attention they deserve. I also have extra money, which means I can buy a lot more treats for all of us.

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Meet the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp


Hipp is a freelance writer based out of Missouri.

Budgeting & Saving, Family

budgeting, pets, save money, Very Personal Finance

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Article last modified on July 5, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Multiple Pets: Can You Afford it? What You Need To Know - AMP.