Pet Care Costs

Dog and cat under chairs

Safety Precautions for Better Health and Lower Costs

One proactive way to lower your pet’s health care costs is to take basic safety precautions to reduce the risk of illness and injury to your pet. The more avoidable problems you can anticipate and prevent, the safer and healthier your pet and the lower your costs for veterinary treatment.

The Brownsburg Animal Clinic blog has a number of posts covering various aspects of pet safety. We’re linking to the best of them, along with a few external resources we recommend.

General Safety Tips

Pet First Aid Basics—our suggestions for steps you can take to prepare for, respond to and, best of all, avoid a medical emergency. 

Keeping Your Pet Safe From Poisons—our comprehensive post on common toxins.  

Medicines for Humans Can Be Dangerous for Pets—with an overview of the dangers of drugs and advice on what to do if you think your pet has ingested medicine meant for humans.

Safe Travels With Your Pet—with annotated links to seven web pages covering safe travel for pets.

Seasonal Safety Tips

Keeping Your Pet Safe in Cold Weather—with annotated links to six authoritative resource pages.

Halloween Safety for Pets—with precautions to safeguard your pet at Halloween.

Dogs and Heatstroke—a brief post with a link to a good New York Times article on heatstroke.

Caring for Your Canine Athlete—including a 7-point checklist of considerations to take before engaging in vigorous exercise with your dog.

Summer Safety Tips—linking to a video from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Managing Your Pet’s Noise Anxiety—including home remedies and medical treatments for noise-averse pets.

Are You Ready for July 4?—highlights the dangers of fireworks.

More Pet Safety Resources

Beyond our blog, we recommend the Center for Pet Safety website as an excellent resource on how best to keep your pet safe. 

We also recommend Preventive Vet’s “10 Point Checklist for Puppy Proofing Your Home” as a great checklist for any pet-owning household.

Finally, even though National Pet Suffocation Awareness Week is months away, we recommend you take precautions now and from now on to minimize your pet’s risk of suffocating in a snack, cereal, pet food or pet treat bag. Preventive Vet has an excellent article on the topic.

Hands holding stethoscope against small puppy

Preventive Care for Better Health and Lower Costs

If you’re like most pet owners, you’re at least somewhat concerned about the costs of pet ownership. An all-too-common money-saving strategy is to postpone or skip preventive care. 

But attempting to lower costs by delaying or cutting back on preventive care—wellness exams, vaccinations, deworming, heartworm and flea and tick preventives—risks not only your pet’s health but also your budget. 

In fact, your regular, ongoing investment in timely preventive veterinary care for your pet is likely to save you money in the long run while helping your pet enjoy a healthier, happier life. 

At home, between visits to the clinic, your ongoing management of your pet’s nutrition, exercise and dental care can further improve quality and length of life while actually reducing the total cost of care over your pet’s lifetime.

Wellness Exams

One survey found that more than half of cat owners and nearly a fourth of dog owners had not visited the veterinarian in the past year. Yet, for adult dogs and cats, nearly all small animal practitioners—including us—recommend an annual wellness exam, with more frequent check-ups for older pets or those with chronic medical conditions. 

These regularly-scheduled exams allow us to detect health problems early when treatment is likely to be easier and less expensive, with the best chances of success. 


One of the wisest investments you can make in preventive veterinary care is in vaccines to prevent such deadly illnesses as distemper, hepatitis, rabies and Lyme disease. The potential costs of treating any of these conditions far outweigh the cost of the vaccines and, in some cases, protect your family from disease as well. 

Your veterinarian will advise you on the core vaccines recommended for all dogs and cats as well as any additional vaccines worth considering based on your pet’s potential exposure to other, less common diseases. 


Dogs and cats can pick up and play host to worms found in their environment—tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and others. Some of these worms can be transmitted to humans.

To avoid the potentially serious and costly health problems that come with worm infestations, we recommend regular testing and deworming as part of ongoing wellness care. 

Heartworm and Flea and Tick Preventives 

One worm in particular—the heartworm—is so debilitating and potentially deadly that it merits annual testing and year-round preventive care. 

See our post, “Protecting Your Pet From Heartworms,” for information about the dangers of heartworms and the preventives you can use to protect your pet.

For detailed information about fleas and ticks, see the ASPCA’s “Fleas and Ticks” page.  

The ASPCA article includes tips for treating your house and yard for a flea infestation, but we recommend a proactive approach to flea control, using preventives to stop a full-blown infestation before it starts. See also the article’s directions for removing a tick from your pet. 

Our veterinarians recommend preventives as a cost-effective way to control both fleas and ticks as well as heartworms year-round.

Spaying and Neutering

Besides preventing unwanted pregnancies, spaying and neutering reduce the risk of mammary tumors and prostate disease and can make your pet calmer and less likely to roam. 

For details on the ideal ages for spaying and neutering your pet, see our post, “When to Spay or Neuter? It’s Complicated.”


The most common nutrition problem we see is overfeeding. The resulting overweight and obesity are associated with arthritis, high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes. These chronic health problems can be debilitating for your pet and costly to treat.

Consistently feeding your pet the right amount of food (and treats) to maintain a healthy weight not only saves you money on the food itself, but on the treatment your pet would otherwise need to address any of the related health concerns that could develop from overfeeding. 

We also see food-related health issues—especially allergies and intestinal problems—in pets fed low-quality “economy” pet food brands. By upgrading to a higher-quality food, you may well see your pet’s chronic skin and digestive problems resolve over time as a result of improved nutrition. The investment in better food is more than offset over time by the reduced need for medical care. 

Your veterinarian can help you choose an affordable, nutritious pet food and recommend the amount to feed to achieve and maintain your pet’s ideal weight. 


Like people, pets benefit from regular, age-appropriate exercise. Walking and playing fetch with your dog benefit you as well as your pet.

See Everyday Health’s “10 Cat Exercises Your Pet Will Enjoy” for ideas on planning an exercise routine for your cat.

Dental Care

Keeping up with your pet’s professional and home dental care can ultimately save you money long-term by reducing the risks of oral and systemic infections and organ damage. 

While only 10% of owners say they brush their pets’ teeth every day, those pets receiving regular home dental care need professional cleanings less often and tend to have fewer problems with their gums and teeth. 

For more information about dental health care for you pet, see our blog posts, “Time to Focus on Your Pet’s Dental Health,” and “Dental Health Care.”

Let Us Customize Your Pet’s Preventive Care Plan

Our veterinarians are happy to recommend a preventive care plan tailored specifically for your pet based on age, breed, general health and lifestyle. Let’s discuss your pet’s plan at your next appointment.

Gold bars

Is ‘Gold Standard’ Care Always the Best Option? 

It Depends.

Every day, in exam room conversations with clients, our veterinarians describe what we consider to be the “gold standard” of care as it relates to the patient’s situation. 

To us, gold standard care represents the most advanced care our profession currently has to offer. It’s a standard constantly evolving in our medical journals and the continuing education seminars we attend to keep up with the latest, greatest advancements in veterinary medicine. 

We accept gold standard diagnostic and treatment protocols as objectively ideal. When a client chooses gold standard care for one of our patients, our work on the leading edge of medical practice tends to be especially satisfying.  

Does that mean gold standard care is always the best option for all clients and patients?

Actually, it depends.

The Original Gold Standard

Originally, “the gold standard” referred to a monetary system linking the value of a country’s currency directly to gold. The gold standard is no longer used by any government, but the notion of a gold standard as an ideal lives on in many settings where there are options to be considered and choices to be made. 

As veterinarians, we are medically and ethically obligated to offer gold standard care as something of an ultimate option to all our clients—often as the first option we present. 

We would be remiss in our duties if we didn’t.

There are times when the client stops us right there, hearing only “gold standard” and insisting they want nothing but the best available exams, tests, procedures and treatments for their pet. 

More often, after defining the gold standard, we talk about other diagnostic and treatment options as well, aiming to help our clients sort through sometimes difficult choices and ultimately discern the wisest, most loving way forward for themselves and their pets.

We understand for any given client and patient, the best choice may or may not be our profession’s currently agreed-upon gold standard. 

Quality of Care Considerations

Calling any one diagnostic and treatment plan “the gold standard” seems to imply that other approaches are somehow substandard. 

That is not necessarily the case. For many clients, for many reasons, gold standard care is simply not an option, or not the best option. 

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, in addition to the gold standard, we offer multiple levels of care to make our services accessible to as many of our clients and patients as possible.

As long as the alternative diagnostic and treatment approaches are evidence-based good medicine and we agree our services will benefit the client and patient, we want to offer them. 

Cost Considerations

We know gold standard sounds expensive. Often it is. 

Advancements in veterinary medicine over the past decade or two have made previously unimaginable diagnostic and treatment options available now. 

These advancements have come at a price. Leading edge medicine often requires substantial investments in research and development and in technologically advanced new equipment. The very latest tests, drugs and procedures are almost always more costly than more traditional approaches.

We understand for most of our clients, cost is an important consideration in choosing the most appropriate care option. We are happy to explore lower-cost alternatives to gold standard care. Just speak up and let us know your concerns.

Your Pet’s Temperament and Quality of Life

Some pets love trips to the vet. They tolerate all sorts of processes and procedures well, apparently taking surgeries, therapies and even prolonged hospitalizations in stride. 

For others, the stresses of testing and treatment can be traumatizing. 

If your pet is the anxious, fearful type, the best care option for you may well be the least disruptive and invasive one. 

For any pet, the discomfort that comes with some forms of treatment, such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, must be weighed against quality of life.

Regardless of cost or a possible increase in your pet’s length of life, you may decide you simply don’t want to put your pet through a full treatment protocol, opting instead for plenty of treats and palliative care. 

Your Capacity to Provide Home Care

Veterinary care often requires at least some degree of cooperation with the pet owner in the form of supportive home care. But depending on your family and work responsibilities and any physical limitations you may have, care options requiring extensive home care may not be a viable choice for you and your pet. 

If you don’t have the time or the ability to administer medicines and participate in rehabilitation, you may opt for a care plan that fits best with your capacity to provide home care. 

Your Pet’s Age and General Health

We can never be certain as to how well a particular pet will respond to a given course of treatment. We do know in general, the pets we expect to experience the best long-term outcomes tend to be younger and, apart from the condition being treated, in better overall health. 

In choosing a care option, your pet’s age, normal life expectancy and general health are all factors to consider. For a pet already nearing the end of its natural life, the more complex and radical approaches—promising as they may be—are probably not the most appropriate for your pet, who if given the choice, would likely prefer to live out the rest of its life in comfort and peace.

The Choice Is Yours

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we see every case—every pet, every owner and every situation—as one-of-a-kind. Just because the most advanced, cutting-edge diagnostic or treatment option is available doesn’t mean it’s the right option for you and your pet. 

In our exam rooms, you can count on our veterinarians to present you with a range of available care options, of which our profession’s current agreed-upon gold standard is only one. Once we’ve presented the possibilities, it’s up to you to decide the best choice for you and your pet—our patient. 

We encourage you to ask questions and let us know your concerns—financial, physical, emotional and otherwise—so that together, we can come up with a workable, guilt-free plan that best suits you and your pet. 

Whatever care option you choose, we consider it our moral and ethical duty to respect your decision and practice the best possible medicine we can to improve your pet’s comfort and quality of life for the rest of its life with the resources at our disposal. 

Currency featuring $10 bill

Crowdfunding and Grants to Pay Vet Bills

In a previous post, “Sources of Cash to Pay Vet Bills,” we listed eight possible sources of relatively quick cash to pay for veterinary services. 

In this post, we explore two additional fund-raising options, leading with brief discussions of several crowdfunding platforms, followed by an overview of charitable organizations offering grants to help qualified applicants pay vet bills. 

If you are having financial difficulties and need help paying for your pet’s veterinary care, rather than taking an either-or approach focused on either crowdfunding or applying to charitable organizations for grants, our research suggests you take a both-and approach and explore both crowdfunding and applying for need-based grants you determine you are eligible to receive.

Please note: We’ve prepared this post on crowdfunding platforms and charitable organizations and our “Financial Resources” page for your information only. In most cases, other than verifying their websites are currently up and running, we have no direct experience with the organizations we’ve listed and linked to and do not intend to endorse nor vouch for any of them.

While we’re happy to help you get started on your search for funding your vet bills, it’s entirely up to you to do your own careful, thorough research before setting up a crowdfunding campaign or applying for a grant with any of these organizations. 

Now, let’s look at several crowdfunding platforms.


You can ask “the crowd”—that is, your family, friends, social media and email contacts, and compassionate strangers—for charitable contributions to cover your pet’s vet bills by setting up a page on GoFundMe, a leader in crowdfunding which has collected a total of $25 billion in donations to individuals and nonprofits since its beginnings in 2010.  

It’s free and easy to set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for your pet’s medical care. A transaction fee of 2.9% + $0.30 will apply to every donation. 

Read about how GoFundMe works.

See also the website’s section on animal-related fundraisers and these two GoFundMe blog posts:


Waggle is a crowdfunding platform dedicated exclusively to fundraising to help pay pets’ medical bills. Once you create a free Waggle campaign, supplying your veterinarian’s contact information, your pet’s medical costs estimate and photos of your pet, Waggle reviews your case and if approved, posts it on the Waggle website. 

You can then share the link to your campaign on social media and via email with your contacts. As with GoFundMe campaigns, you may receive donations from people who know you as well as strangers touched by your story.

Instead of sending the money raised to you to pass along to your veterinarian, your veterinarian sends your pet’s invoice to Waggle, and Waggle pays the bill directly to the veterinarian from your campaign proceeds. Your campaign goal cannot exceed the total on the estimate or invoice provided by your veterinarian. The maximum amount a campaign can raise is $2,000.

According to its website, “Waggle’s operating expenses are supported by donors who contribute a small fee at checkout along with an optional tip. This allows us to pass 100% of every donation directly to the chosen pet.”

Our Thoughts on Crowdfunding

In researching this post, we learned of a study of GoFundMe medical fundraising campaigns published in the American Journal of Public Health early in 2022. Researchers analyzed 437,596 GoFundMe campaigns conducted over a five-year period and found only 12% of all campaigns to raise money to pay for human health care services met their goals, and 16% received no donations at all. 

All the campaigns in the first two years analysed raised at least some money, but in 2018, 0.1% of campaigns raised no money. By 2019, the campaigns producing zero contributions increased to 4.1% and by 2020, to 33.8%.

We know of no comparable study of GoFundMe campaigns to pay for veterinary services. Given the 88% failure rate of human medical care GoFundMe campaigns to reach their goals and the upward trend in recent years toward zero campaign proceeds, we suggest you not only follow the platform’s advice for making your campaign most effective, but explore additional resources, such as charitable foundations, to supplement proceeds from any crowdsourcing campaign you set up for your pet. 

If you find you don’t meet charitable organizations’ eligibility requirements to qualify for need-based grants, revisit our post, “Sources of Cash to Pay Vet Bills” to explore options for borrowing the money you need.

We also suggest you review crowdsourcing platforms’ “how it works” descriptions carefully and compare fee structures before choosing the one where you’ll set up your campaign. Several of the platforms we reviewed had fairly complicated processes and made it difficult to find complete information about fees that would be applied to donations and distributions.

For example, the pet-focused CoFund My Pet platform differentiates its service by distributing donations through debit cards that work only at veterinary clinics to assure donors their gifts will be used exclusively for veterinary care. 

In trying to determine CoFund My Pet fees, we found information spread among three different frequently-asked-question section responses:

  • “CoFund My Pet has an administration fee of 5% of all donations to support our thorough campaign administration to ensure funds are used only as intended.”
  • “Our credit card processor requires merchant transaction fees of 2.9% and a $0.30 processing charge. This is the industry standard and is common with all platforms.”
  • “CoFund My Pet charges a small administration fee to access the payment networks associated with your campaign. We have purposely tried to keep these costs to a minimum. Simply, we charge a $1 per month campaign maintenance fee as well as $1 per transaction fee each time you use your debit card.”

Like GoFundMe, CoFund My Pet charges a 2.9% merchant transaction fee plus a $0.30 processing charge—standard in the industry, just as CoFund My Pet says. The additional 5% administration fee, monthly campaign maintenance fee and the debit card transaction fees reduce the spending power of your campaign proceeds, compared to GoFundMe. 

Similarly, the Fundly platform deducts a 4.9% fee from each donation, along with the usual credit card processing fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 per donation. 

Before you set up your campaign, dig around the crowdsourcing websites to find the actual fee amounts and do the math. 

Financial Aid Organizations

United by a common cause of animal welfare, there are dozens of charitable organizations dedicated to supporting pet owners who need help paying their vet bills. Most charities’ individual missions focus on the financial circumstances of the people they serve and the nature and urgency of the need. Some limit their grant-making based on the pet’s disease, disability or breed. Some serve only dogs or only cats.

Most charitable organizations’ websites present stories of their founding—often inspired by the founders’ own pets—along with detailed information about eligibility for their grants and the types of expenses they will and will not cover. 

It’s a good idea to read this material carefully before submitting an application to make sure the organization’s mission, policies and procedures align with your particular case. 

While a few charities ask simply for an email message or a “pre-application” with the basic facts of your situation to get the application process started, most have fairly lengthy applications for you to fill out, often requiring input from your veterinarian and documentation of your financial need. Be prepared to invest considerable time in researching each charity you plan to approach and completing each one’s application process as directed.

Many grant-makers pay veterinarians directly, to help make sure funds are used only for paying for medical care. Most will not reimburse you for an invoice you’ve already paid. 

You will most likely be expected to pay at least a portion of the vet bill yourself, and some charities encourage or require you to have made other efforts to get help. Some list other charities for you to consider on their websites. 

Many of these organizations are small and run by volunteers. They have usually registered as 501(c)(3) nonprofits and depend entirely on donations to fund grants and cover operating expenses. They typically report receiving many applications each day and do their best to review them in a timely way. 

Although a few charities make grants of as much as $1,500 or more, most grant amounts tend to be fairly modest, topping out at $250 to $500. 

Brownsburg Animal Clinic has for many years maintained a “Financial Resources” page in the Client Information section of our website where we list organizations dedicated to helping financially strapped pet owners pay vet bills and meet other pet-related needs. Rather than duplicate the list of financial aid organizations in this post, we refer you to our recently updated and expanded list.

We’ve visited all the websites listed and highlighted information we could find to help you choose the most promising organizations for further consideration. 

Please note: We are not able to recommend or endorse specific charities. 

Visit our “Financial Resources” page now.

Currency, including $10 and $100 bills

Sources of Cash to Pay Vet Bills

In a recent post, “The Costs of Owning a Pet,” we cited wide-ranging estimates of first-year and ongoing average costs of dog and cat ownership. 

In two posts that followed, we considered the most and least expensive dog breeds and most and least expensive cat breeds to own.

In this post, as part of our ongoing Pet Care Costs series, we offer ideas for how to pay actual vet bills “in real time”—particularly for those clients who might experience financial hardship if faced with a relatively substantial vet bill.

If you are among those clients, you’re not alone.

The Impact of Vet Bills on 2,000 Pet Owners

In a 2022 Forbes Advisor survey of 2,000 dog and cat owners, 42% of surveyed pet owners said a vet bill of $999 or less would require them to go into debt. 

A bill of $499 would cause 28% of those pet owners to incur debt. 

Only 12% answered “none of the above” amounts, ranging from $1 to $5,000+, would require them to borrow money to pay the bills, with another 5% declining to answer.

While it’s certainly not our place as veterinarians to intrude into the financial affairs of our clients, we do encounter clients every day who tell us they’re struggling financially and having a hard time paying for their pets’ medical care. 

Our hearts go out to them and to their pets—our patients. We hope by sharing some of the solutions they’ve found, we can help other clients find ways to pay for the veterinary services their pets need when they need them.

Expected Costs

Keeping up with exams, vaccines and parasite preventives are the best veterinary care strategies for minimizing potential future costs for treating undetected, advanced illnesses. 

Barring unforeseen screening test results that might indicate a need for further testing or treatment, these preventive care costs are predictable. Your veterinarian can provide written estimates for what you can expect to pay for these services in the coming months. 

Be prepared to cover these predictable costs with readily available funds, either as part of your general household budget or by regularly setting aside savings designated for veterinary care. 

Unexpected Costs

Should your pet get sick or hurt, the additional costs for diagnosis and treatment could cause emotional upset and real financial hardship if you find yourself unprepared to pay unexpected vet bills. 

We assure you, we’ve encountered these situations many times before. Based on the solutions other clients have found to raise the money needed to pay their vet bills, we offer these suggestions for your consideration.

Personal Savings

Ideally, you have regularly set aside some easily-accessible cash in a savings account, either as part of a general-purpose emergency fund or in an account designated specifically for veterinary care. 

Having the cash on hand when you need it is the best way to keep from going into debt because of an unexpected vet bill. Replenish and keep building the account when you’re able to keep yourself prepared for future needs.

Selling Personal Property

Selling personal property—like collectibles, jewelry, electronics, clothes, musical instruments or antiques—to raise cash is easier now than ever before with such online advertising options as eBay, craigslist and Facebook Marketplace—to name only a few. 

You might consider implementing this strategy to liquidate assets now to build your veterinary care savings account before your need for cash is urgent.


At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we have for many years accepted CareCredit, a credit card especially designed to cover veterinary care costs. (CareCredit offers cards to pay for medical and dental care for humans, too.) 

CareCredit is different from most “regular” credit cards in a number of ways, offering more favorable terms for veterinary care charges as explained on the company’s website. Also on this page, you’ll find information about the payment terms offered and how to apply for the card. 

If, after visiting the CareCredit website, you believe CareCredit is a good option for you, we suggest you go ahead and apply for your card before you need it. Once you’re approved, you can use the card to pay any invoice at our clinic. Please note, we apply a $5 transaction fee to CareCredit charges of less than $50.

0% APR Credit Card

You may consider opening a new credit card account to be used primarily, if not exclusively, for veterinary expenses. Many cards are available with introductory promotions of 0% finance charges for an initial period of time.

Shop for the most favorable credit card offers online at sites like NerdWallet and BankRate.

Pay attention to when the introductory period ends and do your best to clear the debt before the higher interest rate kicks in. Otherwise, you may find yourself saddled with high-interest credit card debt that takes you years to repay.

Existing Credit Card Accounts

If you prefer not to open a new credit card account, you can rely on credit cards already in your wallet to pay vet bills so long as you have available credit to cover the charge. You may request an increase in your credit limit if needed.

Personal Loans

A NerdWallet survey report, published in October 2022, revealed that 24% of Americans took out personal loans within the previous year, borrowing an average of $5,046.

If you have an acceptable credit history and a dependable source of income, you may qualify for a personal loan from an online lender, bank or credit union.

Personal loans are typically unsecured, requiring no collateral. They often have lower interest rates than credit cards. 

Borrowers make a set monthly payment over an agreed-upon number of months. Some lenders tack on fees, like origination or late fees, to payment amounts.

Most lenders offer online applications and will usually approve or reject your loan request promptly. If you qualify, you could have the money available within as little as a week.

Interest rates vary by lender, and the rate you’ll be offered depends on factors such as your credit score, income and debt-to-income ratio. 

Search online for “best personal loans” to shop for the most favorable terms currently available.

Loans and Gifts From Family and Friends

Asking your family and friends to help you pay your vet bills can be an easy quick-fix for you, but accepting their gifts and loans can potentially complicate your relationships. The wisdom and feasibility of this option depend on the personalities, relationships and resources available to the people involved.

If you accept money from family and friends, make sure all involved clearly understand the terms. Is it a gift? A loan? If it’s a loan, what’s the plan for repayment? When will you begin paying the money back, by how much, over what period of time? Will you pay interest? 

To minimize the risk of damage to your personal relationships, get all these answers in writing before you accept the money, and do your best to honor any commitments you make to repay it.

Paycheck Advance or Loan From Your Employer

Your employer may be willing to give you an advance on your salary or a loan. You may arrange to repay the advance or loan in the coming months through payroll deduction. 

The Worst Ways to Raise Cash

When you are under the emotional stress of having a sick or injured pet and facing a vet bill you can’t immediately pay, you may feel desperate to raise quick cash. 

Options like payday loans, loans against your car title and other loans that don’t require a credit check are among the riskiest and most expensive ways to borrow money. Avoid them if you possibly can.

Skull and crossbones with Danger Poison warning

Keeping Your Pet Safe From Poisons

March is National Pet Poison Prevention Month. 

To research and provide you with information to help you keep your pet safe from poisons, we’ve turned primarily to the Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center—both offering emergency telephone consultations to pet owners and veterinarians around the clock, 365 days a year. 

We’ve selected lists from both call centers of the most commonly-reported toxins—including human medicines, foods, plants and household products—and the most deadly ones, with links to the source materials to guide you directly to much more detailed information.

We conclude with a “More Resources” section below, in which we recommend specific sections from both organizations’ websites for even more detailed information about all sorts of foods, drugs, plants, household supplies and other toxins known to harm pets. 

We’ve also highlighted some articles from the American Veterinary Medical Association. 

Has Your Pet Been Poisoned?

If you are reading this post because you believe your dog or cat has just eaten or been exposed to something poisonous, before you do anything else, call our clinic during office hours at (317) 852-3323 or call the Pet Poison helpline at (855) 764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 right now and follow a veterinarian’s instructions for administering first aid and seeking further treatment.

If you know or suspect your cat or dog has eaten something toxic, call immediately! Your pet’s best chances for survival could very well depend on how quickly you get help.

If possible, have on hand a sample of the poisonous substance and the packaging it came in. The ingredients listed on the label may well determine the next best treatment steps.

To learn what to do in case of a possible poisoning, visit the Pet Poison Helpline’s Emergency Instructions page where you’ll find advice on what to do and, just as important, what not to do.

Despite what you may have heard about home remedies—giving your pet milk, salt, oil or hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting—don’t do anything before you speak with a veterinarian. Depending on the toxin, you could make matters much worse.

Most Commonly-Reported Toxins

In its 2022 Annual Report Card infographic, the Pet Poison Helpline named these “Toxins Topping the Charts:”

  • Foods—Chocolate, Grapes and Raisins and Xylitol
  • Plants—Lilies (Lilium species), Pothos or Devil’s Ivy and Sago Palm
  • Household Products—Rodenticides, Fertilizers and Insecticides
  • Prescription Drugs—Amphetamine Combos, Gabapentin and Levothyroxine
  • Over-the-Counter Drugs—Ibuprofen, Vitamin D3 and Acetaminophen

Chocolate was the Pet Poison Helpline’s most common toxin of 2022. The “most surprising” was magnesium, and the “emerging toxin of the year” was marijuana. The Helpline named 5-fluorouracil as the most dangerous toxin of the year, also named recently by the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center as the most deadly toxin (see below).

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center reported these most-commonly reported toxins during  2021:

  • Over-the-Counter Medications
  • Prescription Drugs for Humans
  • Foods 
  • Chocolate
  • Bouquets and Plants
  • Household Toxicants
  • Rodenticide
  • Veterinary Products
  • Insecticide
  • Garden Products

To see an annotated list of the above toxins, along with an infographic, visit the ASPCA website.  

In years past, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center has released updated lists in March, so look for the 2022 list to appear on the website in the coming weeks.

Based on a list from the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, the American Veterinary Medical Association posted “10 poison pills for pets” on its website—an annotated list of over-the-counter and prescription drugs for humans most commonly generating calls to the Center. The drugs are, in order of report frequency:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®)
  • Tramadol (Ultram®)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax®)
  • Adderall®
  • Zolpidem (Ambien®)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin®)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
  • Naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta®)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor®)

If you keep any of these drugs in your household, we encourage you to read the entire article, including details on each drug and a list of safety tips to protect your pet from being poisoned by over-the-counter and prescription medicines.

The AVMA lists these “7 Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Dog or Cat:

  • Xylitol-Containing Products (like sugar-free candy and gum)
  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Fatty and Fried Foods
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Avocados

Here’s an alphabetized list from the ASPCA of “People Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Pets:”

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
  • Citrus
  • Coconut and Coconut Oil
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Milk and Dairy Products
  • Nuts
  • Onions, Garlic and Chives
  • Raw or Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
  • Salt and Salty Snack Foods
  • Xylitol
  • Yeast Dough

See the article for details about the potential dangers of each food and beverage category to your pet.

The Pet Poison Helpline lists these as the 10 most commonly-reported toxic plants from 2017 through 2022:

  • Asiatic Lily, Easter Lily, Tiger Lily, etc.
  • Pothos/Devil’s Ivy
  • Sago/Cycad Palm
  • Tulips
  • Peace Lily
  • Azaleas
  • Aloe
  • Day Lily
  • Hydrangea
  • Philodendron

The Deadliest Pet Toxins

In October 2022, the ASPCA listed these as the 10 deadliest pet toxins:

  1. 5-Fluorouracil, a prescription ointment or lotion used to treat skin cancer in humans
  2. Amphetamines, most often prescribed for weight loss or ADHD treatment
  3. Baclofen, a prescription muscle relaxer for humans
  4. Calcium Channel Blockers, prescribed to treat high blood pressure
  5. Lamotrigine, a drug prescribed to prevent or reduce the severity of seizures
  6. 5-Hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, an over-the-counter supplement often used for sleep or mood moderation.
  7. Hops, used by home beer brewers
  8. Metaldehyde, the active ingredient in some slug and snail baits
  9. Blue-Green Algae, found in some lakes, ponds and rivers
  10. Methomyl, found in some fly baits

Visit the posted list for more details.

More Resources

Overall, for the most authoritative, detailed, pet-owner-friendly information on pet poisons, we recommend the Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center websites.

The Helpline’s comprehensive “Poisons” section can be filtered by the type of poison, with links to detailed information of each toxin and its impact on pets.

In its “Owners” section, the Helpline website offers brief videos and safety tips for pet owners. 

The “Vets” section has continuing education information for veterinary professionals as well as links to conference handouts and a collection of infographics you can see and download for free.

In the “Toxin Tails” section, Pet Poison Helpline features a case each month of a pet successfully treated for poisoning. 

See the “Toxin Trends” section for a color-coded interactive map of the United States showing the origin of calls for the 30 most commonly reported plants, along with charts showing the most frequently reported clinical signs and call frequency by month. 

The Helpline’s blog has numerous posts focused on specific types of hazards, with category filters to help pet owners and veterinarians find the most relevant content.

You can sign up for the Pet Poison Helpline’s free emailed newsletter just above the footer on most pages of their website.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control website offers a lengthy, searchable directory of toxic plants, by both common and scientific names, that can be filtered for dogs, cats or horses. Click on any plant name to see a photograph and details about the plant and its toxic properties.

In its “Poisonous Household Products” article, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center evaluates multiple potentially harmful household products, medicines and cosmetics, indicating the potential risks of toxicity associated with each.

Household Hazards,” from the American Veterinary Medical Association website offers a detailed round-up of potential toxins organized by the area of the house and yard where they might be found. There’s also a section on holiday hazards.

Finally, see our blog post, “Protect Your Dog From Xylitol Poisoning.”

Blue-eyed cat

Most and Least Expensive Cat Breeds

As we did in our previous post on “Most and Least Expensive Dog Breeds,” we’re discussing in this post estimated purchase prices and projected health care cost estimates for various cat breeds. 

The estimates we found for the costs of acquiring and caring for various cat breeds are wide-ranging and frankly, may or may not be reliable. As you’ll see, the same estimated purchase prices for several breeds were considered both “expensive” and “affordable,” depending on the article. We’ve included links back to the source articles we found so you can review them for yourself. 

In considering potential health care costs over the lifetime of your cat, remember, generalities about specific breeds are just that—generalities. Your own purebred cat may or may not experience any of the common health issues associated with its breed.

With this post, we mean simply to get you thinking about potential costs associated with buying and caring for various cat breeds. We encourage you to do further research before purchasing a purebred cat of your own so you’ll have a better-informed idea of the potential risks and rewards unique to each breed.

The Most Expensive Cat Breeds to Buy

We found three estimated purchase price lists—one listing the “most expensive” cat breeds, and the other two listing the “most affordable” breeds. 

The list of the priciest cat breeds starts with the Ashera—a breed currently recognized by neither The Cat Fanciers Association, nor The International Cat Association. These cats reportedly sell for $75,000 to $125,000. 

Another cat on the “most expensive” list, the Savannah, reportedly costs $25,000. The rest of the “expensive” breeds are priced at anywhere from an estimated $400 to $5,000. 

Interestingly, on the two lists we found of the “most affordable” cat breeds, several breeds estimated to cost as much $1,000 to $1,500 are included. Clearly, there are no standard definitions of “expensive” and “affordable” when it comes to buying cats.

A 2019 article, “The Most and Least Expensive Cat Breeds in the World,” quotes what it calls “sometimes staggeringly high prices” for 15 cat breeds. Here are the acquisition cost estimates the article listed for the world’s most expensive breeds:

  • Ashera $75,000 to $125,000
  • Peterbald $1,700 to $3,000
  • Savannah $25,000
  • Bengal $2,000 to $5,000
  • Persian $3,000
  • Sphynx $900 to $1,200
  • California Spangled $800 to $3,000
  • Maine Coon $1,000 to $3,500
  • Egyptian Mau $500 to $800
  • Russian Blue $400 to $3,000
  • British Shorthair $800 to $1,000
  • American Curl $800 to $1,200
  • Korat $600 to $800
  • Ocicat $800
  • Scottish Fold $800 to $1,500

Visit the Yahoo article for commentary on each breed.

In the same article, included a list of these 15 least expensive breeds: 

  • Oriental Shorthair $400 to $500
  • Turkish Van $200 to $600
  • Manx $200 to $500
  • Havana Brown $300 to $500
  • Himalayan $300 to $500
  • Ragdoll $400 to $1,100
  • Munchkin $300 to $500
  • Snowshoe $200 to $1,000
  • Cornish Rex $700 to $800
  • Siamese $200 to $600
  • Burmese $550 to $1,000
  • Birman $400 to $700
  • American Bobtail $500 to $700
  • Tonkinese $600 to $1,200
  • Abyssinian $500 to $700

As you see, within this article, there’s some overlap of purchase prices considered expensive and those considered affordable. published an article, “11 Most Affordable Cat Breeds (with Pictures)” listing these affordable breeds and their estimated purchase prices:

  • Turkish Van $200
  • Ragdoll $400
  • Siamese $200
  • Burmese $500 to $1,000
  • Manx $500 to $800
  • Himalayan $300
  • Cornish Rex $100
  • Oriental Shorthair $400 to $500
  • Havana Brown $300 to $1,500
  • Snowshoe $200 to $250
  • Domestic Shorthair <$50

See the article—with pictures—for estimated lifespan, temperament, colors and commentary on each of the 11 listed breeds.

Note the overlap of affordable breeds named on the Yahoo list with the above list from PetKeen as well as the substantial ranges in purchase price estimates for some of the breeds. To determine actual purchase prices for the breed you’re interested in buying, contact individual breeders.

As a cost-saving alternative to buying a purebred cat from a breeder, consider looking for an adoptable cat at the Hendricks County Animal Shelter or Misty Eyes Animal Center. Purebreds are available from time to time at both facilities.

The Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue organization is a foster-based program with foster homes in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan. Visit the website to see cats currently available for adoption.

What Makes a Cat Breed Expensive to Care For?

Any cat can inherit a genetic disorder, but pedigreed cats tend to be at higher risk than mixed-breed cats for certain known heritable health problems because purebreds are selectively bred from limited gene pools.

In a blog post identifying the seven cat breeds most prone to hereditary diseases, Pawlicy Advisor, a pet insurance marketing company, posted “Which Cat Breeds NEED Pet Insurance?” listing these breeds:

  • Siamese
  • Persian
  • Ragdoll
  • Bengal
  • Sphynx
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • Scottish Fold

Following the list is detailed health information, including the most common known hereditary conditions, for each breed.

From a article, “Do cats get genetic diseases?” a list of common genetic diseases associated with specific cat breeds includes:

  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Spina Bifida
  • Osteochondrodysplasia
  • Deafness
  • Hypokalemic Myopathy
  • Diabetes
  • Lymphoma and Small Intestinal Adenocarcinoma
  • Feline lower urinary tract disease
  • Asthma
  • Strabismus
  • Spinal muscular atrophy

See the article for details on these diseases and the breeds most likely to inherit them. 

Keep in mind, while the breed predispositions for certain heritable diseases may be stronger than average for some breeds, all Burmese and Norwegian Forest Cats do not necessarily develop diabetes. All Siamese cats do not develop lymphoma and small intestinal adenocarcinoma, nor are they all asthmatic. And mixed-breed cats can develop these disorders, too. 

Insurance Claims Rankings By Breed

An indicator of breed-specific health care costs is pet health insurance claims data. 

For an article published on, pet health insurer Trupanion provided information on the five cat breeds with the highest total lifetime average claims submitted:

  • Siamese $74,638
  • Bengal $73,408
  • Himalayan $69,449
  • Maine Coon $63,683
  • Ragdoll $40,442

See the article for details on common health problems experienced by each of these cat breeds, based on claims submitted. The information about cats starts about halfway through the article.  

Another list based on insurance claims data was published by Forbes Advisor as part of a more general article on pet health insurance. On that list, the ten breeds with the highest average pet insurance claim amounts included: 

  • Siberian Forest Cat $457
  • Bengal $404
  • Mixed Breed Medium-Haired Cat $403
  • Mixed Breed Long-Haired Cat $397
  • Ragdoll $381
  • Mixed Breed Short-Haired Cat $380
  • American Shorthair $376
  • Maine Coon $374
  • Russian Blue $369
  • Domestic Medium-Haired Cat $356

As the individual and lifetime claims averages show, several breeds—Bengal, Ragdoll and Maine Coon—made both lists. Note that four of the ten cat breeds listed as having the highest claims amounts are actually mixed breeds. 

Also bear in mind that claims amounts do not include deductibles and co-pays—typically 20 to 30%—covered by the pet owner. 

Our Observations

  • As suggested in a previous post, the lifetime costs of buying and caring for any pet can easily amount to tens of thousands of dollars. Regardless of pedigree and initial purchase price, all cats need to be fed and cared for properly throughout their lives. Before you add any pet to your household, be prepared financially to provide these essentials.
  • Any cat will experience poor health if not fed and cared for properly. You can do your part to keep your cat’s lifetime total healthcare costs affordable by scheduling regular preventive exams, having us administer recommended vaccines and addressing any illnesses and injuries promptly.
  • While breed and breeder research is helpful before you buy, it’s impossible to predict the health outcomes for any individual cat you acquire.

For more information about cat breeds, visit the website for The Cat Fanciers Association, a breed registry founded in 1906. CFA currently recognizes 45 cat breeds as well as non-pedigreed companion cats that make up more than 95% of the cat population.

Another cat registry organization, The International Cat Association (TICA), currently recognizes 73 cat breeds for championship competition. Visit their site for photographs and details about the breeds they register.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Most and Least Expensive Dog Breeds

In this post, we consider two aspects of expense for owning various dog breeds as pets—acquisition cost and estimated total cost of ownership over the expected lifespan of the dog. 

The figures we’ve included are wide-ranging and perhaps not completely reliable. Click the links back to the source articles to decide for yourself.

Keep in mind, regardless of the reliability of the numbers, the estimated average expenses presented here for buying and caring for dogs of a particular breed may or may not apply to individual dogs. 

The goal of our post is to provide an overview of typical costs of acquiring dogs of various breeds and help you understand health risks by exploring known health issues for the breeds you’re considering. With this information, particularly if the cost of pet ownership is an issue, you can improve your odds of spending less by choosing a breed likely to be more affordable. 

What Makes a Dog Breed Expensive to Buy?

Many variables influence pricing of purebred dogs, and most breeds have a going rate range in the marketplace based on popularity, availability and breeding costs.

On a practical level, prices reflect the breeder’s out-of-pocket costs for the litter, and reputable breeders typically invest substantially more in their litters than do puppy mills and backyard breeders. In addition to food and supplies, medical exams, vaccines and deworming expenses that are typically incurred by all puppies, there could be additional expenses such as stud fees, artificial insemination costs and breed-specific genetic screening tests for the breeding stock chosen to produce a purebred litter.

At least among dog show enthusiasts, purebred pricing is influenced by the breeder’s prestige and record of producing multiple generations of winning dogs. Dogs with impressive pedigrees from leading kennels command higher prices than dogs from less prominent breeders and those not involved in competitive showing. 

The most popular dog breeds are, naturally, most likely to be the most readily available, possibly—but not necessarily—at relatively affordable prices, compared with less popular and more obscure breeds. Labrador Retrievers, French Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs and Poodles are likely in greater supply and perhaps more affordable than Norwegian Lundehunds, English and American Foxhounds, Belgian Laekenois and Sloughis.

For any breed, the laws of supply and demand can impact pricing and availability if a breed experiences a sudden surge of popularity because of media exposure. 

Most Expensive Dog Breeds to Buy

One website we found in our research listed “20 Most Expensive Dog Breeds That Are Worth Every Penny.” The list, ordered from least to most expensive to buy, includes breeds with average estimated initial costs of $2,200 to $3,500. 

The 20 breeds, listed in order of estimated average acquisition costs, include:

  • Portuguese Water Dog $2,200
  • Chow Chow $2,250
  • Afghan Hound $2,250
  • Brussels Griffon $2,300
  • Saluki $2,400
  • Leonberger $2,400
  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog $2,500
  • English Bulldog $2,500
  • English Toy Spaniel $2,500
  • Giant Schnauzer $2,500
  • Miniature Bull Terrier $2,500
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever $2,500
  • Azawakh $2,500
  • Tibetan Mastiff $2,500
  • Xoloitzcuintli $2,750
  • German Pinscher $2,800
  • French Bulldog $2,800
  • Norfolk Terrier $3,250
  • Norwich Terrier $3,500
  • Neapolitan Mastiff $3,500

Besides estimated average purchase price, the article presents photographs and additional data on each of the 20 breeds, including typical height and weight ranges, personality, activity level, grooming requirements, life expectancy and average lifetime costs ranging from $14,000 to $34,000, along with summary descriptions of breed highlights. 

GoBankingRates published a list of 28 most expensive dog breeds, based on estimated purchase price range, projected grooming expenses, average lifespan and potential healthcare costs for common issues faced by each breed. 

Here are the 28 breeds, with estimated purchase price ranges: 

  • Akita $1,000 to $2,500
  • Alaskan Malamute $1,200 to $2,000
  • Bernese Mountain Dog $1,500 to $3,000
  • Black Russian Terrier $1,000 to $2,500
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel $1,500 to $2,500
  • Chow Chow $1,200 and $2,000
  • Dogo Argentino $1,500 to $2,500
  • English Bulldog $2,000 and $4,000
  • French Bulldog $2,000 and $4,000
  • German Shepherd $800 to $2,000
  • Golden Retriever $1,000 to $2,000
  • Great Dane $1,000 to $2,000
  • Ibizan Hound $2,000 to $2,500
  • Irish Wolfhound $1,500 to $2,500
  • Kerry Blue Terrier $2,000 to $2,500
  • Lakeland Terrier $1,500 to $2,800
  • Miniature Bull Terrier $2,500 to $3,500
  • Newfoundland $1,700 to $2,500
  • Old English Sheepdog $1,800 to $3,000
  • Pharaoh Hound $1,800 to $2,500
  • Portuguese Water Dog $2,000 to $3,000
  • Rottweiler $1,200 to $2,000
  • Saint Bernard $1,000 to $2,000
  • Samoyed $1,500 to $3,000
  • Spinone Italiano $1,200 to $2,000
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier $1,500 to $2,500
  • Tibetan Mastiff $2,500 to $4,000
  • Yorkshire Terrier $1,500 to $3,000

See the article for brief summaries of each breed.

Are Purebreds More Expensive Than Crossbred Dogs?

We define a purebred dog as the product of mating two dogs of the same breed. We define a crossbreed (also known as a hybrid) as resulting from a deliberate mating of two different-breed purebred dogs, such as a Cockapoo from mating a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle, a Labradoodle from a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle or a Puggle from a Pug and Beagle mating. Technically, these are mixed-breed dogs, but in this article, when we refer to mixed-breed dogs, we’re talking about dogs of diverse parentage that most likely was not deliberately selected.

Are purebreds more expensive than crossbreds? In terms of purchase price, it appears the answer is yes.

An article at compared purchase prices for popular purebred and crossbred dogs, demonstrating that purebreds are indeed more expensive than crossbred dogs to buy. 

  • The article listed these estimated price ranges for popular purebred dog breeds:
  • Labrador Retriever $650 to $4,000
  • French Bulldog $3,000 to $10,000
  • Golden Retriever $750 to $5,000
  • German Shepherd $300 to $3,200
  • Standard Poodle $300 to $3,000

Average purebred price $1,000 to $5,040

For comparison, the article listed these estimated purchase prices for popular crossbred dogs:

  • Cockapoo $800 to $3,200
  • Labradoodle $151 to $2,000
  • Goldendoodle $750 to $2,900
  • Puggle $250 to $3,665
  • Shepadoodle $350 to $3,000

Average $460 to $2,953

As these numbers illustrate, the crossbreds—while still potentially somewhat pricey—tend on average to be priced more affordably than purebreds. 

Alternatives to Buying From a Breeder

As an alternative to buying a purebred dog from a breeder, consider adopting a purebred rescue or shelter dog.

Most dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club are available for adoption through the AKC Rescue Network. Locations, availability and adoption fees vary, but procuring your purebred dog through the rescue network can be a lower-cost and more satisfying alternative to buying from a breeder.

About 25 to 30% of shelter dogs are purebreds, so with patience and persistence, you may find a dog of the breed you’ve chosen at the Hendricks County Animal Shelter or Misty Eyes Animal Center.

As you plan your budget, keep in mind adoptable rescue and shelter pets have most likely already been spayed or neutered, fitted with a microchip, vaccinated, dewormed, started on parasite prevention and treated for at least the most urgent health and behavior problems presented when they arrived at the rescue organization or shelter. These initial expenses are usually covered by the adoption fee.

What Makes a Dog Breed Expensive to Care For?

When you choose a purebred dog, you have a good idea of its size at adulthood. As a general rule, the larger the dog, the greater the expense for feeding, equipping, grooming, boarding, insuring and providing veterinary care. 

Because they are more likely to be inbred from relatively small populations, some purebred and crossbred dog breeds may be at greater risk than mixed-breed dogs for developing particular heritable health conditions. These conditions, which can be debilitating for the dog, heartbreaking for you and costly to treat, are generally well-documented for the various breeds and should be a central focus of your breed research. 

For example, as a group, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known to be more prone than average to develop heart disease. German Shepherds have more than their share of canine degenerative myelopathy. Dachshunds have relatively more spinal issues. Boxers have an above-average incidence of cancer. 

While the most reputable breeders select to improve health by screening breeding stock and attempting to eliminate defective genes, some breeders either carelessly or unknowingly disregard such considerations, and some may even select problematic traits on purpose. Bulldogs and Pugs often experience respiratory difficulties because they’re deliberately bred for their short, flat faces. German Shepherds selected for their sloping backs tend to have more hip dysplasia. Shar-Peis selectively bred for their skin folds often suffer from chronic skin infections. Such breed-specific health risks can result in higher veterinary care costs. 

Health Insurance Claims by Breed

One indicator of the cost of care for dogs of various breeds is claims paid by pet health insurers. For example, based on claims filed in 2020, Embrace Pet Insurance reported the five breeds with the highest vet bills were Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Bullmastiffs and Newfoundlands.

On a more detailed short list of dogs with the highest average insurance claims, Rottweilers placed first with an average claim amount of $567.53, followed by Bernese Mountain Dogs with average claims of $412.85, Great Danes at $385.49, English Bulldogs at $370.57 and French Bulldogs at $355.63.

Another list based on insurance claims data was published by Forbes Advisor as part of a more comprehensive article on pet health insurance. On that list, the ten breeds with the highest average pet insurance claims include: 

  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog $425
  • Rottweiler $401
  • Dogue de Bordeaux $395
  • Cane Corso $386
  • American Bulldog $376
  • Irish Wolfhound $375
  • American Staffordshire Terrier $373
  • Mixed Extra Large Breeds (111 Lbs +) $368
  • Bernese Mountain Dog $367
  • Bull Mastiff $366

The dog breeds identified with the lowest average pet insurance claims are actually crossbreds including the Australian Labradoodle at $226, followed by the Miniature Goldendoodle at $230 and the Shichon at $241.

Bear in mind, these figures reflect individual claims amounts—not the total vet bills which would typically include the owner’s deductible and typical 20-30% share of the cost. 

Projected Lifetime Costs of Ownership’s “Most and Least Expensive Dog Breeds” lists these five breeds (including two crossbreeds) as having the highest total estimated ownership costs:

  • Giant Schnauzer $34,410 over a 14-year lifespan
  • Goldendoodle $32,675 over 13 years
  • Tibetan Mastiff $32,485 over 11 years
  • Black Russian Terrier $30,200 over 11 years
  • Labradoodle $29,475 over 13 years

Many additional details about costs of ownership for each breed and crossbreed are included in the article.

Least Expensive Dog Breeds

A 2021 article published on Yahoo’s finance site listed these 30 least expensive dog breeds and their estimated average purchase prices:

  • Manchester Terrier $600
  • Schipperke $650
  • Irish Terrier $650
  • German Wirehaired Pointer $700
  • Border Collie $525
  • Beagle $650
  • Australian Terrier $550
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi $550
  • Otterhound $550
  • Dalmatian $700
  • Chihuahua $650
  • Cesky Terrier $400
  • Field Spaniel $550
  • Redbone Coonhound $650
  • American Pit Bull Terrier $600
  • Pekingese $500
  • Bichon Frise $525
  • Affenpinscher $400
  • Dachshund $500
  • Papillon $400
  • Pug $350
  • English Setter $350
  • Treeing Walker Coonhound $500
  • Miniature Pinscher $500
  • American Foxhound $475
  • Parson Russell Terrier $400
  • Plott Hound $275
  • Black and Tan Coonhound $350
  • Rat Terrier $350
  • Harrier $300

Visit the article to see photographs and find additional details about life expectancy, potential ailments and estimated healthcare and grooming costs for each of the 30 breeds.

In an article on, these are listed as the five least expensive dog breeds based on estimated total costs over the lifetime of the dog: 

  • Japanese Chin $13,695 over 11 years
  • Boston Terrier $14,620 over 12 years
  • English Toy Spaniel $14,980 over 11 years
  • Toy Fox Terrier $15,255 over 14 years
  • Jack Russell Terrier $15,405 over 13 years 

See the article for more cost of ownership details for each of the five least expensive breeds.

Our Observations

  • As noted in a previous post, the lifetime costs of owning any dog can easily amount to tens of thousands of dollars. All dogs, from the most to least expensive, need nutritious food, exercise, training, basic equipment like crates and leashes and a safe, secure environment in which to live. All dogs also need ongoing veterinary care including regular medical exams, vaccinations and parasite preventives and diagnosis and treatment of any illnesses and injuries along the way. Supplying the essentials for whatever dog you choose costs money.
  • While many genetic diseases are more common in purebreds, any dog—purebred, crossbred or mixed breed—can inherit genetic diseases that disable the dog, upset you and your family and require possibly extensive, expensive veterinary care.  
  • Maladies associated with a particular breed will typically manifest in only a percentage of the dogs, perhaps with a higher prevalence in some bloodlines. All German Shepherds won’t necessarily develop hip dysplasia. All dogs of the Belgian breeds will not develop epilepsy. All Flat Coated Retrievers will not have cancer. 
  • No amount of research can predict the health outcomes of an individual dog you acquire. Doing research to determine common health problems prevalent in a particular breed will help you understand the risks associated with owning a dog of that breed, but there are no guarantees that any individual dog—purebred, crossbred or mixed-breed—will or will not experience a genetic disorder during its lifetime. 
  • Any dog can suffer ill health if not fed, kept safe and cared for properly. Besides providing basic food and shelter, seeking timely ongoing preventive care by our veterinarians is your best strategy for helping control the total cost of veterinary care and improving the quality of life for your dog and yourself over your dog’s lifetime.  

For more information about dog breeds, visit the American Kennel Club website. Since 1884, the AKC has been registering dog breeds, keeping track of pedigrees and working with breed clubs, local kennel clubs and obedience clubs to organize dog shows year-round throughout the country. Of the 340 dog breeds known throughout the world, the AKC currently recognizes 199 breeds.

Close-up of a $100 bill with a coin in the background

The Costs of Owning a Pet

How much does it cost to own a dog or cat?

Our online research shows the answer depends on whom you ask, and most of the estimates we’ve found are so wide-ranging as to be of limited value to anyone trying to budget accurately for cat or dog ownership. 

Still, we hope our research findings will be useful as you consider the financial obligations that come with pet ownership and make best estimates of your own based on your experience and typical purchasing choices. (You know if you’re the sort who would buy the basic $20 litter box or the $650 self-cleaning model.)

In two upcoming posts, we’ll focus on breed-specific acquisition and health care costs for dogs and cats to identify the most expensive and most affordable breeds. 

In this post, we look at some average cost estimates for owning any dog or cat, regardless of breed, and conclude with some ideas for saving money on pet care. 

Please Note

As noted, the annual cost estimates range widely—sometimes by factors of 10 or more—with differences amounting to thousands of dollars. Some of the lowest figures and several of the highest estimates seem too low to us, based on our experiences caring for our own and our clients’ pets. Especially for larger pets and breeds prone to health problems, the upper-range estimates for some services and procedures may be substantially lower than real-world prices in our area of the country. In particular, the estimated maximum prices for spay/neuter surgeries seem unrealistically low.

We also note that regardless of the adoption fees listed in the articles we found, the Hendricks County Animal Shelter’s current adoption fees are $70 for adult dogs, $150 for puppies, $20 for adult cats and $70 for kittens. We’ve included the other adoption fee estimates we found for comparison. (See our National Shelter Appreciation Week post for more information about our county shelter.)

As you plan your budget, keep in mind adoptable shelter pets have most likely already been spayed or neutered, fitted with a microchip, vaccinated, dewormed, started on parasite prevention and treated for at least the most urgent health problems presented when they arrived at the shelter. These initial expenses can be considered covered by the adoption fee.

For accurate, written estimates of our clinic’s fees for exams, vaccines and medical procedures for your dog or cat, talk to your veterinarian. 

Whether or not any of the following general estimates align with the precise amount you’ll end up spending on your pet, our goal is to raise awareness of the financial obligations that come with pet ownership. If you’re thinking of adding a pet to your household, we hope this post will give you an overview of the potential financial obligations that come with owning a cat or dog before you finalize your plans and bring your new pet home.

A Range of Cost Estimates

In a web page published in 2021, “Cutting Pet Care Costs,” the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals itemizes average ongoing costs for both dogs and cats as well as initial and “special” costs.

The ASPCA estimates total initial costs for dogs and cats—not counting what you pay for the pet itself—to be $1,030 for dogs and $455 for cats. Ongoing annual maintenance costs are projected at $1,391 for dogs and $1,149 for cats.

The special costs listed are $300 for professional dog grooming and dental care estimated at $500 for dogs and $300 for cats.

On the Money Under 30 website, “The Annual Cost of Pet Ownership: Can You Afford a Furry Friend?” sets estimated annual expenses at $400 to $4,000 plus one-time costs typically incurred during the first year. 

In itemizing cat costs, the article lists these first-year expenses:

  • Adoption fee $40 to $300 
  • Vaccinations $65 to $200 a year
  • Spay/neuter surgery $150 on average, $50 to $500 depending on the individual case
  • Microchip $45 average
  • Initial supplies $86 to $580
  • Litter box $6 to $350
  • Collar $20 to $50
  • Bed $15 to $50
  • Crate $20 to $40
  • Scratching post $15 to $50
  • Food and water bowls $10 to $40

The article estimates total first-year costs of cat ownership at $386 to $1,335 and suggests budgeting at least $1,000.

Ongoing annual cat care costs include:

  • Cat food $120 to $500
  • Toys and treats $30 to $100
  • Litter $30 to $300
  • Medical expenses $100 to $750
  • Insurance $108 to $360

These yearly cost estimates for owning a cat amount to $388 to $2,010.

Money Under 30 estimates first-year costs of dog ownership as follows:

  • Adoption fee $100 to $800
  • Vaccinations $115 to $230 a year
  • Spay/neuter surgery $35 to $500
  • Microchip $50
  • Training $30 to $1,250
  • Initial supplies $90 to $290
  • Collar, harness and leash $30 to $75
  • Bed $20 to $75
  • Food and water bowls $30 to $100

The site estimates total initial costs of dog ownership between $420 and $3,270 and suggests a minimum budget of $2,000.

Ongoing annual dog care cost estimates include:

  • Dog food $120 to $900
  • Toys and treats $30 to $200
  • Medical expenses, including check-ups, dental care and vaccines $750 to $1,750
  • Insurance $280 to $1,030
  • Additional supplies $30 to $250

In all, Money Under 30 estimates ongoing yearly costs for dog ownership at $1,210 to $4,130 and suggests budgeting at least $2,500.

For both cats and dogs, Money Under 30 suggests setting aside savings to cover ongoing expenses and building an emergency fund to cover unexpected illnesses and accidents. Pet health insurance, estimated at about $45 a month for dogs and $25 a month for cats, can provide reimbursements for unexpected medical treatments provided the condition is covered by the policy.

More Dog Cost Estimates

In an August 2022 article published at, “How to Budget for a New Dog,” the author discusses a broad range of estimated upfront costs as well as recurring expenses over the ten or more years you’re likely to be caring for your dog. 

Upfront costs cover such essentials as spay or neuter surgery, vaccinations and basic equipment and supplies. One survey, cited in the article, reported that 38% of dog owners estimated upfront costs at about $500 when actual costs ranged from $1,050 to $4,480. projected recurring expenses to range from $480 to $3,470 a year with optional expenses like pet health insurance, dog walkers and sitters potentially adding $1,210 to $4,040 to the total.

Variables noted as impacting expenses are the dog’s age, size and health as well as where you live.

The article continues by comparing the cost of acquiring a dog from a pet store or breeder to the cost of adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization. Acquisition costs vary among breeds as do feeding and health care costs. We will explore these breed-related variables for both dogs and cats further in future posts.

In an article ranking states for “spoiled dogs” (Indiana dogs ranked 20th), Forbes Advisor reported on a survey of 5,002 dog owners that asked about spending on such extravagances as costumes, birthday parties, strollers, perfume, pedicures, homemade dog food and restaurant treats, and health care and grooming, relative to expenditures on human members of the household. See the article for details of the survey responses.

In a section titled, “How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?” Forbes Advisor reported survey respondents said they spend an average of $730 a year on their dogs, with 41% saying they spend $500 to $1,999 a year and 8% reporting spending more than $2,000. More than a third—36%—reported spending only $200 to $499. 

Dog food topped the list of expenses, at 47%, followed by vet bills at 28%, treats and toys at 10% and professional grooming at 6%.

Visit the page for a complete break-down of survey responses about annual expenditures. Bear in mind, these figures are based on the owners’ self-reports of their spending and may not accurately reflect actual costs. 

More Cat Cost Estimates

On the ASPCA brand pet insurance website, “How Much Does It Cost to Have a Cat?” the post author discusses the potential costs of adopting a cat from a shelter ($50 to $175) and buying from a breeder (possibly $750 or more) as well as listing one-time purchases of such essentials as a litter box, a cat carrier, collar and ID tag, scratching posts or mats and food and water bowls. Optional accessories listed include a bed, water fountain, cat shelves, window perches and tech gadgets such as computerized toys and two-way video. No price estimates are included for these items.

The article cites ASPCA annual cost estimates of $634 for routine medical exams, vaccines and parasite preventives, food, treats and toys plus a few extras such as catnip or an extra scratching mat.

Unexpected costs may include fixing household damage caused by your cat’s scratching and territory marking as well as unexpected medical expenses for treating illnesses and accidents.

There follows a brief discussion of pet health care insurance as a way to mitigate unexpected veterinary care costs.

Money-Saving Suggestions

In “Cutting Pet Care Costs,” the ASPCA offers these suggestions:

  • Schedule regular check-ups
  • Talk to your veterinarian about which vaccines could safely be eliminated for your pet
  • Spay or neuter your pet
  • Brush your pet’s teeth
  • Protect your pet from parasites
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes around your pet
  • Consider pet health insurance
  • Buy high-quality pet food
  • Groom your pets at home

Visit the page on the ASPCA website for details on each tip.

In the article, money-saving suggestions include:

  • Making your own toys and accessories
  • Buying accessories like crates and water bowls second-hand
  • Do-it-yourself grooming
  • Buying food at a discount by subscription
  • Using reward and cash-back credit cards to pay your pet’s expenses
  • Hiring bargain-priced friends, neighbors and family members as dog walkers and pet sitters
  • Taking advantage of senior and military discounts when purchasing products and services for you pet
  • Researching grants, financial aid and other resources to help pay for unexpected illnesses and accidents

The ASPCA Pet Insurance article on the costs of owning a cat offers five cost-saving tips:

  • Buy in bulk
  • Shop around
  • Make your own toys
  • Make your own cat treats
  • Consider pet insurance

In its survey report about spending on dogs, Forbes Advisor advocates buying pet health insurance as the one suggestion for “taming veterinarian bills.” We agree, pet health insurance is a wonderful idea. Be advised, however, that the Forbes Advisor website earns commissions if you buy a policy through one of its links. 

Our Money-Saving Advice

The Brownsburg Animal Clinic team reiterates and adds these cost-saving suggestions:

  • Consider the costs before you bring a new pet into your household
  • Adopt a shelter or rescue animal rather than buying from a breeder
  • Let us recommend an affordable, nutritious food for your pet
  • Schedule wellness exams when recommended
  • Brush your pet’s teeth to reduce the risk of periodontal disease and delay or possibly even eliminate the need for a professional cleaning
  • Prevent illnesses (and obey Indiana law) by having us administer the appropriate vaccines for your pet
  • Give recommended parasite preventives year-round
  • Prevent accidents by keeping your pet indoors or in a fenced yard and keeping potential hazards out of reach
  • Consider buying pet health insurance to reimburse you for unexpected major medical costs of treating covered illnesses and injuries. 

For a list of charitable organizations serving pet owners facing unexpected major medical costs, visit our Financial Resources page.