Helping Your Clients Create a Pet Budget

Pets sometimes outlive their owners. A client’s accident or illness can leave their pet without a caregiver, which, without the proper planning, can result in the pet being sent to an animal rescue or shelter. Compiling a list of common expenses is the first step in protecting a beloved pet’s future. You can assist your client in determining the right amount of funds to set aside for their pet’s continued living arrangements.

Create a Checklist 

There are many online resources to help develop a list of pet expenses. Pet owners should consider the following types of expenses.


This is a primary expense for any pet, but larger animals will incur higher food costs. Include the following when calculating how much to budget for:

  • Regular pet food purchases 
  • Treats 
  • Recommended supplements or vitamins 

Veterinary Care 

Healthcare keeps pets feeling their best and able to provide joy, entertainment, and companionship. Routine care can help prevent medical emergencies, but your client should still budget for the unexpected, including the following:

  • Routine check-ups and vaccinations
  • Preventive medications (flea, tick, heartworm)
  • Emergency vet visits
  • Dental cleanings and care
  • Spaying or neutering


Medication is sometimes necessary for illnesses, injuries, and aging. Some animals and breeds of animals are known for having certain health conditions during their lifetime. Most medications are based on weight, so larger pets may also have higher medication expenses. Common medications or preventative treatments include:

  • Prescription medications for chronic conditions or illnesses
  • Flea, tick, and worming treatments
  • Pain relief or anti-inflammatory drugs

Grooming and Hygiene 

Some animals only need occasional grooming to supplement self-grooming techniques, while others require extensive care to maintain their coat, teeth, or nails. It may be a matter of preference and appearance. If you have a show animal that is regularly entered in events or contests, the costs can be significant:

  • Shampoo, conditioner, grooming tools
  • Nail trimming and filing
  • Haircuts or professional grooming services

Pet Insurance 

Insurance helps make certain medical visits affordable when a pet suffers from an unexpected illness or injury. Depending on the type of pet and risks for injury, the cost of insurance can be a few dollars to a few hundred a month for most small animals. Large animals such as horses can have much higher premiums:

  • Monthly or annual premiums for pet insurance coverage
  • Deductibles and copayments for medical expenses

Pet Supplies

Every type of pet needs certain supplies to provide them with a comfortable environment. Again, the size of the pet usually dictates the initial cost of these items, and many items need replacement over time:

  • Bedding or crate
  • Leashes, collars, harnesses
  • Litter, litter boxes, waste bags
  • Toys and enrichment items


Due to work schedules and vacations, a pet may need to be boarded, cared for by a petsitter, or attend daycare, for which the following costs must be considered:

  • Boarding fees at a kennel or other boarding facility for vacations or trips
  • Petsitting services in the home
  • Daycare for socialization and exercise during the workday

Travel and Transportation

If you travel a lot, smaller pets can travel with you in cars or planes; larger pets require hauling in trucks and trailers:

  • Travel crates or carriers
  • Transportation fees (public transportation services)


To comply with local laws and ensure you can track and identify your animal, different types of identification can be purchased or may be required:

  • Microchipping
  • Pet tags and collars
  • Licensing fees

After a budget is created, your client will have a detailed list of expenses to share with potential pet caregivers and an estimate for how much future pet-related expenses may be. This estimate can act as the basis to determine how much money should be set aside for the pet’s care and where that amount of money will come from in the event of the client’s death.

Next Step

Once your client has a budget in place, the next step is to meet with their planning team (financial advisor, insurance agent, tax preparer, and estate planning attorney) to put a plan in place that protects their pet and provides the funds necessary to care for them in the event the client passes away before their beloved pet. If you are interested in learning more about pet planning and the role you can play, please give us a call.