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Can you really afford to own a dog or cat? Here's a breakdown of the annual cost

This pup's heartbroken owners surrendered her when they realized she was sick and they could not afford the medical bills. KOMO photo

SEATTLE (KOMO) - Dogs and cats are so popular now that surveys show nearly seven in 10 households (68 percent) have at least one. But some people are learning the hard way that cats, and especially dogs, can take hundreds of dollars out of your monthly budget.

The Seattle Humane Society for example, says about one in 10 of the animals it takes in for adoption is surrendered because the previous owner couldn't afford to keep them.

"What people don't consider a lot of times are those unexpected costs," said Seattle Humane Society's Jenna Pringle.

Pringle says unexpected medical costs are a common reason people surrender their pets to the shelter.

"They might not be aware of how much a routine medical exam might be," Pringle said. "Often it's an emergency scenario — your dog eats a sock and needs exploratory surgery, your senior cat needs dental work. Those unexpected costs usually get people in a frenzy."

But even without health surprises it all adds up. Consider these estimated averages for owning a dog:

Food and treats - $125 to $700 per year, depending on the size of the dog.

Collars and leashes - $20 to $50 per year, even more, depending on your taste and shopping habits.

Bedding - $50 to $200 per year. Again, it depends on the animal, and your shopping restraint.

Same for toys, which can cost $25 to $150 per year or more.

Routine exams and preventative visits can run between $100 to $500 or more annually depending on the animal and the veterinarian.

Tack on the cost of basic training, grooming, pet sitting, boarding, flea, tick and de-worming medications, dental care, pet fees if you rent or stay in hotels, and of course poop bags — and that cute canine can easily cost you in excess of $150 a month. Some frugal owners spend less, others spend much more.

Cats tend to be more affordable, but even they can ring up as much as $700 or more per year.

So before you decide it's time to add a cat or dog to your family — crunch the numbers. Experienced dog owner Patti Aro says it's a lesson she learned during her early years of dog ownership. She's considering adopting an Australian Shepherd. Her previous dog died several years ago.

"I don't think people track costs," said Aro. "One time my dog ran in the kitchen and jumped up on the table and snatched up a chicken and got a bone caught in her throat. And I had to drive her to the emergency room in the middle of the night. And it cost $1,600 — completely out of the blue."

"You really have to be ready for this kind of stuff, you have to have a fund for the dog," she said.

Medical emergencies are why many vets and shelters recommend pet insurance, especially for older animals with no pre-existing conditions. Even then — it's good to have a pet fund and add money to it every month.

The Seattle Humane Society says it's also critical to do your homework about where you get your pet. Be especially careful about buying pets from strangers on Craigslist, and mass breeders who refuse to let you tour the property and inspect the area where animals a kept. Before you buy a puppy or kitten from a pet store, get as much information as possible about the breeders name, location and reputation — then check them out.

One of the best ways to buy a dog or cat is through a reputable shelter which spays, neuters, vaccinates and microchips the animal, and makes sure they're in good health before adopting them out.

Pringle says it costs the Seattle Humane Society an average of $570 per animal to do all that, not counting the cost of extra medical care for pets that have health problems.

Much of that cost is absorbed by ongoing donations — so it's not all passed on to you when you adopt a shelter pet. Something to keep in mind if you're curious about shelter pet fees.

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