February 21, 2019

Tan colored dog with his mouth open sitting on green grass

If we learned anything from this week’s “National Love Your Pet Day,” it’s that our members really love their pets. Animals provide us with entertainment, love, emotional support and, in some cases, protection. Is it really any wonder that so many of us refer to our pets as being members of our families?

According to a 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey released by the American Pet Product Association, 68 percent of US households own a pet. Of those, 48 percent own dogs, while 38 percent own cats, 10 percent own fish, 6 percent own birds, and 5 percent own another small animal.

While we often refer to our pets as being “priceless,” pet ownership does include a large financial commitment. Regardless of whether you buy from a breeder, adopt from a shelter, or take in a stray, you’ll likely incur an initial cost for purchase/adoption, vaccinations, spay/neuter, training, etc. These costs are followed by general expenses over the lifetime of your pet: food, toys, routine and emergency vet visits, etc. According to the National Pet Owners Survey, American pet owners spent about $63 billion on their pets in 2016, a 4 percent increase over the previous year’s spend.

The true costs of pet ownership can differ depending upon the size of your pet. According to the American Kennel Club, the average lifetime costs for dogs are as follows:

Small dog - $15,051 (average life expectancy of 15 years)

Medium dog - $15,782 (average life expectancy of 13 years)

Large dog – $14,480 (average life expectancy of 10 years)

So where is this money going?

Health and wellness 

Routine vet visits, including wellness checkups, vaccines, lab tests and dental care could cost upwards of $1,500 per year, according to PetPlan. Don’t forget to save money for emergencies… 1 in 3 pets will need emergency veterinary treatment every year. To help defray the cost of your pet’s medical care, LUSO has partnered with VPI Pet Insurance to offer discounted coverage rates. If you decide to purchase pet insurance, veterinarians advise getting it when your pet is young and healthy, as pre-existing conditions may factor into pet insurance plans.


Regardless of whether you feed Fido supermarket dry food or a raw diet, food costs can run from $120 to $900 per year. The National Pet Owners Survey indicates pet food costs totaled nearly $30 billion in 2016. If you’re looking to reduce this expense, consider purchasing your favorite brand in bulk and don’t forget to check the manufacturer website for coupons!


Animals provide us with endless hours of entertainment, but they need mental stimulation as well. Some dogs are content to chew an old sock or chase a tennis ball, but most pet owners purchase more. In 2016, pet parents spent between $30 and $250 per year on toys and treats. Craft-friendly websites such as Pinterest can help you reduce the annual cost of entertaining your pet by helping you transform household items into fun play-things.

Ancillary expenses 

In addition to the health, food and entertainment costs, pet owners may also be responsible for licensing fees, collars/leashes, crates, training, supplements, boarding, dog walking, and more.

If you’re planning to bring a new furry member into your family, don’t underestimate the lifetime costs. For the amount of money you’ll spend over the course of your pet’s lifetime, you could have remodeled your bathroom. But don’t worry, we have great rates on home equity loans for that. Contact our Member Service Department to learn more. 


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