If you’re thinking of adopting a pet, it’s important to know how much it’ll cost you in the years ahead.

“Any little thing I have to take her to the vet for, it’s a lot of money,” Stacey Michelle Newsome said about her dog.  

Your first big vet bill will likely be to spay or neuter your pet. If you adopt from a shelter, they’ll often do this for free. But otherwise, this will set you back a few hundred dollars. 

After that, your pet needs to see a veterinarian for yearly checkups, says Dr. Jennifer Hawkins with the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association. Depending on where you live, these checkups can cost $75-$400. But Dr. Hawkins says they’re important. 

“Going to your veterinarian for routine wellness exams gives your veterinarian the opportunity to identify any early changes that could be an indicator of something that might manifest later on,” she said. 

Dr. Hawkins says critical veterinary care, like when your dog is sick, is another potential expense for pet owners. Care for bigger pets can cost more, because they need more anesthesia for surgeries and higher doses of medication. 

When your pet is sick, you might be tempted to wait a few days to see if they bounce back, but Dr. Hawkins says that’s not a good idea. She says pets often mask signs of disease until they can’t hide it any longer. 

“So any further delay only allows that problem to further progress and makes it even harder for you and your veterinarian to get them back to their previously healthy state,” said Hawkins.

Kris Scaramange says his dogs have racked up thousands of dollars in vet bills. 

“We’ve had hip dysplasia. We had one dog that needed a knee replacement,” he said. 

But Scaramange has pet insurance, and he says that covered most of the bills. Dr. Hawkins recommends insurance too, but consumer advocates aren’t so sure – they say there are often loopholes in coverage. But one thing they all agree on: it’s important to set aside funds for critical care. 

Finally, there will always be extra expenses that pop up. For example, if you travel, you’ll need to board your pet or take it with you. 

“I travel with my dogs, so there’s always an extra expense, 50 bucks here, 50 bucks there,” said dog owner Ramona Barganza. 

Dr. Hawkins also suggests training and socialization classes for dogs. Those can cost a couple hundred dollars, but can save a relationship. 

“Animals do end up in shelters quite often because of that strain or break in the human-animal bond. Maybe they’re adopting some negative behaviors that you or your spouse can’t tolerate,” she said. 

To learn more about Clear The Shelters 2022 and search for adoptable pets in your area, visit cleartheshelters.com. You can also donate to your local animal shelters and rescue groups by visiting clearthesheltersfund.org.