Homemade Frozen Dog Treats

From Whole Dog Journal

By CJ Puotinen

Published:June 21, 2022Updated:June 30, 2022

If your dog is too hot this summer, cool her off and make her happy with healthy homemade frozen dog treats like “pupsicles”!

popsicles for dogs
For “pupsicles,” use an edible “stick” such as a slice of carrot. The downside of frozen treats is that they melt, and melting treats can be messy. If you’re feeding indoors, try serving frozen dog treats on a towel, mat, or other surface that protects furniture and flooring.

Our dogs are just as fond of ice cream, popsicles, and other frozen treats as we are. But frozen treats, including those sold for pets, can be high in sugar, difficult to digest, expensive, or contain artificial flavors, colors, and even potentially dangerous ingredients. 

Fortunately, it’s easy to save money, add variety, improve the nutritional content of your dog’s treats, and help your hot dog cool down as temperatures climb with these homemade frozen dog treats.

How to Make The Best Frozen Dog Treats in Town

Ingredients: Avoid ingredients that are harmful to dogs, such as the sweetener xylitol, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, onions, and chocolate. Prevent unwanted weight gain by limiting fruits, fruit juices, and other sources of sugar, and feed all “extra” treats in moderation. 

Many dogs are lactose-intolerant, which can make regular ice cream and frozen milk products indigestible. Substituting fermented dairy products like yogurt or kefir, or using unsweetened coconut milk, which is lactose-free, helps dogs avoid digestive problems.

Equipment: Recommended equipment includes a sharp knife and cutting board, blender or food processor, and something to hold and shape treats during freezing, such as simple ice cube trays, sturdy rubber chew toys, popsicle molds, paper cups, silicone molds, wooden strips, and edible sticks.

Storage: Once treats are frozen, place them in air-tight freezer containers or zip-lock bags for freezer storage. This prevents sublimation, during which frozen foods dehydrate, and it prevents the transmission of odors to and from other foods. 

Frozen Dog Treat Disclaimer: If your dog loves to chew ice cubes, she’s not alone – but ice cubes are potentially hazardous. According to Tennessee pet dentist Barden Greenfield, DVM, “Dogs have a tendency to chew too hard and the force of breaking ice is substantial. This leads to a slab fracture (broken tooth) of the upper 4th premolar, which many times exposes the pulp, leading to tremendous oral pain and discomfort. Treatment options are root canal therapy or surgical removal.” 

The risk of breaking a tooth increases with the size of frozen cubes, so avoid this problem by freezing small cubes, offer shaved ice instead of cubes, or add ingredients that produce softer cubes, such as those described here. Small amounts of honey, which can have health benefits for dogs, help prevent a “too hard” freeze. 

Use whatever safe ingredients you have on hand, and experiment with quantities. There is no single “right” way to make a frozen treat that your dog will relish. An easy way to predict whether your dog will enjoy a frozen treat is to offer a taste (such as a teaspoon) before freezing. If your dog loves it, perfect. If not, add a more interesting bonus ingredient.

Simple Frozen Kong Ideas for Easy Frozen Dog Treats

Nothing could be easier than filling a sturdy dishwasher-safe, nontoxic, hollow, hard rubber toy such as a Classic Kong with any of the following ingredients before leaving it in the freezer. Block any extra holes to prevent leakage, leaving one large hole open for filling. Popular dog-safe ingredient options include:

  • Mashed ripe banana
  • Pureed soft fruit or vegetables (remove seeds or pits before blending)
  • Canned dog food
  • Nut butter (look for sugar-free peanut butter or other nut butters that do not contain xylitol)
  • Diced apple
  • Chopped or shredded carrots
  • Shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Plain unsweetened yogurt or kefir
  • Dog treats

Combine your dog’s favorite ingredients and fill the hollow toy. If desired, seal the top with a layer of peanut butter, squeeze cheese, or a dog treat paste such as Kong’s Stuffin’ Paste. Store the toy so its contents remain in place while freezing. For storage, keep frozen Kongs in a sealed freezer container or zip-lock bag. 

Another simple summer treat is a few chunks of frozen dog-safe fruits or vegetables delivered by hand or in a small bowl, such as banana, apple, peach, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, or green beans.

frozen dog treats made some ice trays and popsicles for dogs

Dogs and Petting

Sometimes it can be difficult to know when our pets are interested in a physical interaction with us. Not all dogs want to be cuddled all the time! To help owners better assess their dog’s emotional state, K9 of Mine has created a new infographic as part of their Dog Consent guide. The Pet, Pat, Pause technique was originally developed by Justine Schuurmans of The Family Dog. In each stage of interacting with a dog, this exercise always gives the dog a choice and allows them to say “no thanks” when they’re feeling hesitant or unsure!

Behavioral Effects of a Companion Dog Loss on a Cohabiting Companion Dog

Dr. Jean Dodds

April 1, 2022 / General Health / By Hemopet

Many of us who have two or more companion dogs will notice behavioral changes that we perceive as grief-related if one of the pets is very ill or dies. As fellow pet parents, we know this to be true and have our own personal anecdotal stories. 

For researchers, anecdotal beliefs or reports are problematic. They recognize that pet parents may be projecting their feelings of grief onto the companion dog. Confounding the matter are factors that may change such as household dynamics, pet parent behavior, or habits that may impact the surviving dog’s behavior. 

Researchers have observed mourning habits and rituals of many species such as dolphins, elephants and primates in the wild. In those circumstances, researchers are simply observing and are usually devoid of a personal attachment. True, they could form an emotional bond and project some bias, but they are not interacting or affecting the outcome. Another factor that compounds the issue is that behavioral responses to death have rarely been observed in wild or feral dogs. 

A great basic survey that quantified behavioral changes in companion pets was completed in 2016 by Jessica Walker, Natalie Waran and Clive Phillips in Australia and New Zealand titled, “Owners’ Perceptions of Their Animal’s Behavioural Response to the Loss of an Animal Companion”. We encourage you to read it. 

A couple of years later, researchers having different specialties published a questionnaire directed at Italian dog owners who had lost at least one companion dog from a minimum of a two-companion dog household. They then applied various methodological scales to analyze the responses not only for pet humanization but also for pet bereavement for another pet. Eventually, they published a paper called, “Pet Humanisation and Related Grief: Development and Validation of a Structured Questionnaire Instrument to Evaluate Grief in People Who Have Lost a Companion Dog.”

With this foundation, the team was able to expand and complete another study: “Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) grieve over the loss of a conspecific”. This study gets really interesting because it provided comparisons based upon the type of bond two companion dogs may have. They asked if the cohabiting companion dogs were friendly, agonistic, mutually tolerant, parentally based (meaning parent-offspring) on both owner observation and the genetic association towards one another. They also inquired about the activities or areas the two dogs might have done together such as sleeping together, playing, sharing food, and grooming. Then, the observed behavioral changes such as playing, sleeping, eating, fear, vocalization, elimination, attention seeking, and level of activity, once one dog might have passed on. 

They found out that a friendly and parental relationship between the two dogs was associated with stronger behavioral changes, while no association was found between behavioral variables and an agonistic/mutual tolerance relationship.

The Problem with, “May I Pet Your Dog?”

From: Whole Dog Journal

www.wholedogjournal.org

Let’s ask the dog – not the handler – and learn when his body language truly is answering “Yes!”

By

 Kathy Callahan, CPDT-KA

Published:May 23, 2022

petting dog on head
Is this dog looking forward to being touched by a stranger, or has she learned she has to tolerate it because she’s stuck on a a tight leash and has no choice? If you slow down your greeting and let the dog choose, you’ll know. Photo Credits: Yuril Zushchyk / Dreamstime.com

It used to be that if folks wanted to pet your dog, they just reached out and did it. Happily, in today’s more well-informed world, there’s usually a quick, “May I pet your dog?” first.  All too often, though, the moment that permission is granted, the stranger is moving in close and looming over the dog, swiftly thrusting a hand an inch from the dog’s nose. The dog – perhaps pushed forward a bit by the owner who sees how eagerly the other human wants this – might find an enthusiastic, two-handed ear jostle is next. 

For some dogs – the stereo-typical Golden Retriever, perhaps? – this is the moment they’ve been waiting for! That extra human attention may even be the highlight of their walk. If your family has only included extroverted canine ambassadors like this, the idea that a dog would not welcome an outstretched hand is incomprehensible. 

Yet, comprehend we must. Because, believe it or not, few dogs automatically love being trapped on a leash and touched by new people. As hard as it is for us to accept, that quiet dog being petted may well be hating every moment that the human is enjoying so much. While that’s important to understand when you’re the stranger in the scenario, it’s absolutely critical when you’re the one holding the leash.

DON’T ASSUME THAT DOGS WANT TO BE PETTED

man petting dog
Look for consent before the two-handed ear jostle! Photo Credits: Antoniodiaz / Dreamstime.com

Indeed, plenty of wonderful dogs are not eager to say hello to strangers. They may feel anything from uninterested, to wary, to terrified. In some cases, they have been specially bred – by humans – to feel what they’re feeling. 

Unfortunately, because we humans value petting dogs so much, we often ignore that pesky truth. We tend to believe that all good dogs should happily accept petting from anybody at any time. But dogs have plenty of reasons for choosing to say no:

  • Perhaps they’ve been bred to guard, so this forced interaction with strangers is deeply conflicting.
  • Perhaps they’re simply more introverted and don’t enjoy this kind of socialization.
  • Perhaps something in their background has made them less trusting of people.
  • Perhaps normally they’d be all in, but today their ear hurts, or they are very distracted by the big German Shepherd staring at them from across the street.

There are many reasons, all legitimate, that may make a dog prefer to skip this unnecessary interaction. 

DON’T GIVE CONSENT ON BEHALF OF YOUR DOG

Becoming conscious of just how deeply some dogs do not want to be randomly touched is the first step toward realizing that we really should be asking dogs, not their handlers, whether or not we can pet them. Ultimately, it’s the dog’s consent we need in order to safely pet them, not the human’s. 

Maybe the idea of giving our dogs the right to consent feels strange to you. For my part, it feels downright creepy to not give my dog the right to consent or decline to being touched by a stranger. It feels wrong that I have the power to decree, “Sure, absolutely, you go right ahead and put your hands all over this dog’s body. She’s so pretty, isn’t she? We all love to touch her.” Ew!  

Of course, dogs can’t verbally answer the “May I pet you?” question (when given the opportunity to do so), but they sure do answer with their body language. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the skills to read what can be very subtle signals, and as a result, many dogs are routinely subjected to handling that makes them uncomfortable. Worse, this often happens while they’re restrained by a leash with their owner allowing it. 

That experience can make dogs even less enamored of strangers, and – the saddest part – less trusting of their owners, who did not step up to help them through that moment. 

TIPS FOR MAKING FRIENDS WITH A DOG

I give my dogs agency when it comes to who touches them and when. If somebody asks, “May I pet your dog?” I smile at their interest and tell them I’d love for them to ask the dog. Then I show them how: 

  • Keep a little distance at first.
  • Turn a bit to the side, so you don’t appear confrontational.
  • Use your warm, friendly voice to continually reassure. 
  • Crouch down, so that you’re not looming in a scary way.
  • Keep your glances soft and light instead of giving a steady stare.
  • Offer your hand to sniff. But instead of the fist shoved unavoidably in the dog’s face (which is what society has been taught is the polite thing to do), simply move that hand ever so slightly toward the dog so she has a choice of whether to get closer to investigate. Look elsewhere as she does so, so she can have a little privacy as she sniffs.

Often, this approach gets us to a waggy “yes” from even a shy dog in 30 seconds! 

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR DOG IS GIVING CONSENT

If the dog pulls toward the stranger with a loose, relaxed, or wiggly body, the dog is saying yes. Great! The next step is to begin petting the dog in the spot she’s offering – likely her chest or rump. (A top-of-the-head pat is on many dogs’ list of “Top 10 Things I Hate About Humans.”)

If my dog does not give a quick or easy “yes,” I may try backing us up a bit and making conversation, because many dogs warm up after having a few minutes at a safe distance to size up a new human. I might feed my dog a few treats while talking to the stranger, or give him some treats to toss near my dog. If she then relaxes and leans into the experience, great! 

If not, we just call it a day and move along. That is also – and this is critically important – great! No harm, no foul. No need to apologize if our dogs say, “No thanks.” We can simply and cheerily head on our way. 

Zoonotic Diseases and Pets FAQ

From the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

Q: Can animals carry diseases I can catch?

A: Yes, they can. Diseases passed from animals to humans are called “zoonotic” (pronounced “zoe-oh-NOT-ick”) diseases.

Q: Are these diseases deadly?

A: Some, such as rabies, are deadly. Many others are not, but can still make you sick.

Q: What is the risk that I or my children will become infected?

A: The risk is low, if you use common sense and good hygiene and keep your pet healthy.

Q: Are certain people more likely to catch these diseases and become sick?

A: Yes. People whose immune systems aren’t working normally are at higher risk of catching these diseases and becoming sick because their immune systems can’t fight off infections as well as healthy people. Very young or very old people, people with diseases such as cancer or HIV infection, and people who are receiving medical therapy or medications (such as chemotherapy or steroids) that can affect their immune systems should be especially careful around animals.

Q: Are certain animals more likely to carry these diseases?

A: Yes, but any animal (or pet) can carry disease if they become infected. For example, birds (including chicks) and certain species of reptiles and rodents may be more likely to carry Salmonella, a type of bacteria that can cause intestinal problems and other infections. Salmonella can also be carried by other animals (including dogs, cats, and horses) and people. Hamsters can carry a virus that can cause nervous system disease. Cats can infect people with an organism that causes toxoplasmosis, a disease that can cause problems for pregnant women or people with poorly functioning immune systems. Dog roundworms can infect people and cause skin problems, blindness, or organ damage.

Healthy pets of any species are less likely to be infected and pass the infection to you.

Q: Should I even get a pet, if there’s any risk it could give me a disease?

A: Pets provide many benefits for people, including companionship and protection, and pet ownership is a very rewarding experience. Many pet owners consider their pets to be members of their families.

The decision to get a pet is a personal decision, and should be based on a number of factors, including your family’s lifestyle, living arrangements, and others. Although the possibility of disease is an important factor to think about, the risk is low and often considered to be outweighed by the benefits of pet ownership. Additionally, there are many simple things you can do to minimize your risk.

Q: How can I prevent my pet from making me sick?

A: There are many simple steps you can take to prevent your pet and your family from getting sick.

  • First of all, healthy pets are much less likely to carry diseases that can infect you. Taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular check-ups, vaccinations, and deworming is a simple way to keep them healthy. Keeping your pets free of fleas and ticks is also important. If you are buying a pet, don’t purchase a pet that looks ill or unhealthy.
  • Don’t handle your pet’s stool or urine. Wear disposable gloves (or gloves that can easily be disinfected) when cleaning the cat’s litter box, and use a scooper or something to cover your hand when picking up after your dog.
  • Clean up after your pet. Keep your cat’s litter box clean, and keep your yard free of dog waste.
  • After handling your pet, or its food or bedding, or cleaning up after your pet (even if you were wearing gloves), thoroughly wash your hands. This is especially important before you eat anything. Make sure children know to wash their hands after contact with any animal, or wash your children’s hands for them if they are not able to do it.
  • Don’t let your pets (or children, for that matter) come in contact with stray or wild animals. These animals are much more likely to have diseases that can infect your pet and possibly infect you.
  • Don’t let your pets lick you in the mouth, and teach children not to put their mouths on animals or put any part of the animal’s body in their mouth.
  • Keep your family healthy. If the people in the family are healthy, they are less likely to be infected, even if the pet becomes infected, because their immune systems are healthy.

For more information about preventing zoonotic diseases, view our brochure (also available in Spanish).

Q: I just read a news article that says families with children under 5 years of age shouldn’t own pets like hamsters, lizards, turtles, hedgehogs, etc. We already have one of these as a pet. Should we get rid of it?

A: Although that decision is up to you, we encourage you to discuss it with your veterinarian. Often, there are simple things you can do, such as following the guidelines listed above, that will keep your family safe and allow you to keep your pet. If you decide that you cannot keep your pet, please find your pet a suitable home. Turning a pet loose outside is not good for the animal or the environment. Even though many species kept as pets were originally wild animals, they no longer have the instincts that allow them to survive in the wild. Your veterinarian’s office, local animal shelter, pet rescue, or other organization can help you find a new home for your pet.

Q: I’m thinking of getting a pet, but I have young children. What’s the best pet to get? Should I get a pet at all?

A: Getting a pet is not a decision that should be made lightly. It is a big responsibility. It is very important to get a pet that best fits your family’s lifestyle and needs. In some cases, the best decision is to postpone getting a pet until the children are older. However, many families have young children and pets and have not had any difficulties. Veterinarians are very good source of information on pet selection. In addition, the AVMA has a number of brochures about pet selection​.

Q: What are “nontraditional” pets?

A: Many people consider domestic cats and dogs to be traditional pets; any other species kept as a pet is considered nontraditional. Examples include amphibians (frogs, toads, etc.), fish, reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes, etc.), birds, ferrets, rabbits, rodents (rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, chinchilla, hedgehogs, etc.).

Q: Do “nontraditional” pets make good pets?

A: They certainly can make good, even great, pets for responsible pet owners. Some of these animals require special care or housing, so it’s important to thoroughly research any animal you consider getting for a pet—this includes cats and dogs, too. Some people have allergies to cats and/or dogs, and nontraditional pets offer these people options for having a pet that doesn’t trigger their allergies. In addition, many of these nontraditional pets can form strong bonds with their owners, and owning a nontraditional pet can be very rewarding.

Q: What animals do not make good pets?

A: Wild animals are not good pets; they can be dangerous and are more likely to carry diseases. Skunks, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, coyotes, wild birds and other wild animals should be left in the wild; if they are injured, they should be cared for by licensed wildlife rehabilitators. Zoo animals (including lions and tigers) are not good pets, either; these animals require special care and diets, and can be dangerous. Nonhuman primates (monkeys, chimpanzees, etc.) are not good pets because they can be dangerous and are more likely to carry diseases that can infect you and your family.

Q: I have questions about a specific type of pet. Where should I go?

A: Your veterinarian is the best source of information about pets.

Q: What about the animal kept in my child’s classroom? Should I tell my child not to handle it? Should I tell the school to get rid of the animal?

A: Classroom pets provide very valuable learning experiences for children, and keeping the pet healthy is just as important for classroom pets as it is for family pets. Children should be taught how to handle the pet(s) and taught proper hygiene (such as washing their hands after handling the pet). If you have concerns about the classroom animals, you should discuss them with the school and a veterinarian.

Q: Should I keep my child away from petting zoos or any other activities that involve animals until they are older?

A: This decision is up to you and your family to decide. Please keep in mind that animals offer valuable educational opportunities. Animals offer companionship and teach children responsibility and respect for all living things, and stimulate their curiosity and interest in learning. If you choose to allow your young children to participate in these activities, adult supervision is necessary to ensure that the children are exposed to the animals in a safe manner and good hygiene practices are followed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have guidelines for families visiting animal exhibits. These guidelines, including directions for washing hands, can be viewed at http://www.cdc.gov/Features/AnimalExhibits/.

Other resources:

Healthy Pets, Healthy People Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/HEALTHYPETS/

When you acquire a pet, you are making a promise to accept responsibility for the health and welfare of another living creature for its lifetime. You also agree to be responsible for your pet’s impact on your family, friends, and community. Choose your pet wisely, keep your promise, and enjoy one of life’s most rewarding experiences!

PRIMAL PET FOODS RECALL

From the FDA press release:

FAIRFIELD, California, July 6, 2022 – Primal Pet Foods is voluntarily recalling a single lot (#W10068709) of Raw Frozen Primal Patties for Dogs Beef Formula (6-pound), with best by date of 05/22/23, due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

The company distributed sixty-six cases (396 units) of this single lot of Raw Frozen Primal Patties to Maryland, Georgia, Texas, and British Columbia, in late April 2022. No other lot codes or Primal products are impacted by this announcement.

Primal Pet Foods has received no complaints or reports of illness to pets or humans due to this recalled product.

This voluntary recall is a result of routine sampling by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which revealed a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes in one sample from one lot of Raw Frozen Primal Patties for Dogs Beef Formula.

Listeria monocytogenes rarely cause illness in dogs, but it is possible. Dogs can have mild symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. Even if a dog is not showing symptoms, it can still be a carrier of the bacteria and spread it to humans. If a dog has consumed the recalled product, pet parents are encouraged to consult their veterinarian.

People can become sick by handling contaminated food or touching surfaces that have been exposed to Listeria monocytogenes. Symptoms in humans may include fever, headache, muscle aches, stiff neck, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. Young children, elderly people, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to Listeria monocytogenes infections and symptoms can be more severe. Anyone exhibiting symptoms after handling this product should contact their healthcare provider.

Primal Pet Foods is committed to the quality and safety of its products. The company uses a “test and hold” protocol to ensure that all products test negative for harmful bacteria before being released for sale. Primal Pet Foods confirmed that all testing results on this single lot of recalled product were negative for Listeria monocytogenes – both raw materials and finished product – before it left its production facility.

The Raw Frozen Primal Patties are sold in flexible packaging in the freezer at select pet stores. Primal Pet Foods has temperature tracking devices on all shipments of frozen product to ensure storage requirements are met while being transported. This product should be kept frozen until a pet parent is ready to use it.

The lot number and best by date can be found on the lower third of the back of the Raw Frozen Primal Patties package. If a pet parent has product from this single lot (#W10068709) in their possession, they should stop feeding it to their dog and dispose of it immediately. Pet parents are also encouraged to follow all safe handling instructions on Primal packaging and wash their hands and all preparation surfaces after handling any raw product. If pet parents have any questions, they can contact Primal Pet Foods by phone at (800) 742-1312 Monday–Friday, 6:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. PST, or by submitting an online request.

This recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Company Contact Information

Consumers: Primal Pet Foods 800-742-1312

Product Photos

Dog Stress Signs You Should Know

From Calmingdog.com

OCTOBER 26, 2021 https://calmingdog.com/blogs/main/dog-stress-signs-you-should-know

Pug laying on floor

Many times, we try to guess what our dogs are thinking and how they might be feeling. As a dog owner, how often have you just sat to the side and watched your dog do his dog things, living in his dog world? Do you wonder what it’s like to be a dog and what dog stress is?

We sit down and watch our dogs and wonder what they think because we don’t know. We cannot say one hundred percent, for sure, what our dogs are feeling. We cannot because they are animals, and we are humans. They cannot talk to us and let us know how they are feeling.

We can try to guess sometimes. We look at their faces and body language and try to judge for ourselves how they feel. However, it is still tricky to do because sometimes, a dog can be confusing. Ever see a dog yawn? Well, a dog’s yawn can mean different things. It can mean tiredness or indifference or stress, or it could just be because you or another dog yawned. Something like this that can mean different things is sometimes complicated to judge, or maybe your dog is experiencing stressful situations.

But sometimes, you can tell exactly what a dog is feeling and know when he is feeling a particular emotion because it is just so clear. One of such clear, unequivocal emotions is stress. Some things your dog does or some ways he acts that let you know that he is stressed.

Are you ready? Then let’s dive in! In this detailed article, we will talk about what causes stress in dogs, those cues that tell you when your dog is stressed; and give you pointers on what you should do about them. Just click the link below:

https://calmingdog.com/blogs/main/dog-stress-signs-you-should-know

Expert guide to creating a pet budget

betterpet - Advice from a team of actual pet experts

Pet ownership is a long-term investment with many different costs. Learn how to get a clear picture of how much pets cost from day one.

Written by Shannon Perry  for Betterpet.com

— Medically reviewed by Dr. Dwight Alleyne 

Updated May 23, 2022

Pet cost budgeting

Table of Contents

The essentials

  • Expect upfront expenses — These include everything from adoption/breeder fees to health care, essential supplies, and more.
  • Develop a budget to ease stress — A clear expectation of how much your furry or fishy family member costs will help with financial planning.
  • Spend now to save later — Invest in preventative care to reduce the long-term costs associated with pet ownership.

A new puppy or kitten, or finally investing in that saltwater tank you’ve dreamt of for years, is exciting. But without proper planning, the newest addition to your family can turn into a source of financial stress. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way! Create a pet budget to avoid unpleasant surprises for you and the newest addition to your family.

Budget for initial pet costs

For some prospective owners, the upfront, one-time cost of getting a pet can be prohibitively expensive — particularly with puppies and kittens. It’s a good idea to have a clear understanding of the initial expenses that come with a pet, regardless of whether you’re adopting or buying.

DogCatFish
Pet store or breeder fees$500-$2,500+$400-$5,000+$1-$50+
Spay/neuter exam & operation$65-$300+$35-$300+n/a
Veterinary care$600 avg$600 avgn/a
Pet supplies (bowls, tanks, toys, etc.)$130 avg$120 avg$25-$500+
Apartment pet deposit (for renters)variesvariesvaries
Total upfront cost$1,295-$3,530$1,155-$6,020$26-$550

Overall, adopting from a rescue or shelter is typically less expensive than buying a pet from a breeder. Some medical care, such as spay and neuter operations, are already included in the fee. Some rescues have specials where adoption fees are waived for certain types of pets. Other rescue shelters pay for all medical expenses or they may include medications.

Besides the initial purchase or adoption fees, renters can expect a bump in housing fees. In some cases, this may be a refundable deposit, but most property management companies require some kind of deposit. Even fish may require a pet deposit or face restrictions on tank size. Before you invest in an aquarium, consult with your rental company to find out if you can have fish and how much they may cost.

Plan for recurring pet costs 

Pet food is the most common expense new pet owners anticipate, but other items need to be part of a pet budget. Like people, pets have recurring needs and costs for which you should be prepared.

  • Pet food. Cat and dog owners should expect to pay between $10 and $50 every month. This depends on the pet’s size, age, breed, and other health factors. For fish, owners should expect to pay between $5 and $15 a month for most aquarium setups.
  • Medications. Many prescription medications are typically sold in three-, six- and 12-month supplies. While the price varies depending on the medication, pet owners should budget about $30 a month for routine prevention. In some cases, bundles may be available that make purchasing more convenient or less expensive. Consult with your veterinarian for the price of specific medications related to treatments.
  • Waste disposal. For these expenses, cat owners should expect to pay $14 to $30 a month, while dog owners who need puppy pads should budget around $20. In both cases, miscellaneous items like waste bags may add an extra $10 to the budget.
  • Miscellaneous. It’s important to be realistic and budget for other monthly expenses as well. Pet owners who want subscription boxes should expect to add about $30 a month to their pet budget. Also, training can cost around $50 per hour, while obedience schools and “doggie boot camp” programs range from $200 to over $1,000 per week.

With fish, monthly maintenance costs depend on the setup. Owners typically don’t need to budget more than $10 a month as purchases are on an as-needed basis. In case of parasites in the tank, extra treatments may be necessary.

Estimated monthly costs

DogCatFish
Food$10-$50$10-$50$5-$15
Medications~$30~$30n/a
Waste disposal~$30$25-$40$10
Housing fees$10-$100~$10varies
Miscellaneous costs$30-$200$30-$200varies
Monthly total:$80-$280$75-$130$15-$25
Pet insurancevariesvariesvaries
Annual costs (est)$1,200-$1,560$1,140-$1,800$60-$180

Keep in mind that rental and homeowners association fees vary — this list is intended as a guideline. Consult with your landlord or HOA, if applicable, about any yearly or monthly pet fees.

Other pet costs

Aside from monthly expenses and one-time pet costs, other things often come up with pet ownership. Vaccines, checkups, treatments, and other expenses are often left out of a budget. This leads to unpleasant surprises when it comes time for veterinary care or a big purchase. These types of expenses may be infrequent, but shouldn’t be forgotten when creating a pet budget.

FrequencyCost
Preventative medicationsEvery six months$130-$190
Core vaccinationsEvery three years$90-$360
Other vaccinationsAnnually or every three years$90-$360
Routine check-upsAnnually$45-$300
Boarding*Annually$125-$250

*The average range for boarding fees is based on a five-night stay one time a year for a healthy pet. Those with special medical needs will likely experience a higher rate.

Most preventative medications range from monthly to annual purchases. It’s also important to note that not all vaccinations are required. Most aren’t, but core vaccinations are highly recommended. The rabies vaccination is a core vaccination and is required by law in many areas.

Budget for the unexpected

In some cases, costs may come up that don’t fit neatly into the pet budget. These might be specific to the situation. For example, if you travel with your dog, you may need to pay a hotel fee. Other miscellaneous expenses include pet furniture, food delivery, grooming, or aquarium décor.

Lastly, consider adding your pets to your will so that they’ll be taken care of if they outlive you. Name a willing caregiver and then update your legal documents to reflect that change. Don’t forget to include any monetary considerations for your pet’s ongoing care.

Budget for pet emergencies

It’s inevitable with pet ownership that you’ll be visiting the vet at some point for an emergency. For cat owners, this may come in the form of something like a urinary tract infection. UTIs can quickly become an emergency that requires immediate attention. For pets that venture outdoors, poison and unfortunate encounters with wildlife can also result in an emergency vet visit.

The average emergency vet visit starts at about $100 and can quickly jump to a few thousand or more. It’s wise to save between $1,000 to $2,000 for an emergency visit.

Tips for pet budgeting

There are a few things you can do to make budgeting for a dog or cat a painless experience, and improve your life as a pet parent.

Figure out monthly expenses — Create a list of purchases you expect every month. Consider dividing it into categories like necessities and bonus purchases. Choose brands your vet likes or that you feel good about, and explore different options, like types of dog food.

Set aside money every month — With infrequent and unplanned purchases, it’s important to determine how much you can afford to save with each paycheck. Some pet owners prefer to set aside a large amount at once, while others budget to set aside a little at a time.

Consider pet insurance — Emergency vet expenses can cost thousands, so many pet parents choose to invest in pet insurance. This offsets future costs and helps you save on routine care, medications, and vaccinations.

Interview pet sitters and boarders — A great way to plan for pet care is to establish a relationship with a boarding facility or pet sitter. Not everyone needs these services, but for those who do, it’s good to find one that works with you. It’s also a good idea to have a few options.

Be proactive with preventative care — Investing in preventative care can go a long way to reducing more costly expenses later. For example, urinary health treats and fountains may help reduce the risk of UTIs in cats. Schedule routine teeth cleaning for your dog to help prevent tooth extractions later. Regular vet visits are a great way to keep tabs on your pet’s health.

Research programs in your area — Sometimes things happen that no amount of budgeting can prepare you for. It’s a good idea to know what kind of programs and aid might be available in your area that may provide peace of mind in an emergency.

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Budget for pets before adopting

Bringing a new pet home is a big day. When faced with the reality that you have to pay for that pet’s care and are responsible for their wellbeing, though, it can become overwhelming.  A pet budget creates a road map for financially responsible pet ownership. Ultimately, here’s what you can expect to pay every month for your new furry friend or aquarium.

  • Budgeting for a dogDog owners should expect to spend $164 per month on average. This covers monthly costs as well as occasional expenses and emergencies.
  • Budgeting for a cat. Cat parents should budget about $184 every month for regular purchases as well as infrequent and unforeseen ones.
  • Budgeting for fish. Maintaining your aquarium plus savings for unforeseen situations will cost about $25 per month.

Let’s face it, creating a budget isn’t the most thrilling part of getting a pet. However, it’s one of the most important things you’ll do.  After all, becoming a pet parent should be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, not a stressful one.

Frequently asked questions

How much should you budget for a pet?

This depends on the type of pet and what you will need. Pet owners may pay less than $50 a month for a cat or dog on average, or a few hundred, depending on their needs and if they stash additional money in a pet savings account.

How much will I spend on a pet per month?

Some pets, like small aquarium fish, need very little in the way of monthly maintenance — at most, it’s about $25 every month on average. Budgeting for a cat or dog, though, can cost anywhere from $40 to $200 or more every month.

How do you budget for a new pet?

When budgeting for a new pet, the main consideration is where you’ll get your newest family member. Think about what exams, vaccines, and medications may be included. Know what is included in your fee to determine how much to save.

What is a pet that is good for a strict budget?

For those who aren’t comfortable with the expense of a cat or dog, fish make excellent companions and may require only a small and inexpensive freshwater aquarium. For those who have their heart set on something furry, guinea pigs and rabbits are also typically affordable choices.