25 Most Expensive Cities to Own a Pet

dog on a person's back

Pet ownership is more expensive in certain cities. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

It’s no secret pets bring an added element of companionship and humor to our lives. It’s why over 79.7 million households own pets. But the comfort of a cuddly, non-judgmental furry partner for life comes at a price. Unlike children, they’ll never grow into their hands and feet to one day emerge as self-sufficient entities. Pet owners must continue to pay for vet visits, yearly vaccines, and everyday necessities, such as food and chew toys.

And pet expenses vary drastically across the nation. WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 most populated cities across the United States to pinpoint the most pet-friendly cities. While WalletHub also considered other factors, including “pet health and wellness” and “outdoor pet-friendliness,” to get an overall score, we chose to focus on the “pet budget” metric to pinpoint the most expensive cities to own a pet. Key dimensions analyzed were veterinary care costs, minimum pet-care provider rate per visit, and dog-insurance premiums.

Are you paying above-average prices for your pet? Considering what it costs to keep a needier pet alive, you might want to consider goldfish as a cheaper alternative if you live in these cities.

Let’s take a closer look at the 25 most expensive cities to own a pet.

25. Mesa/Chandler, Arizona

Phoenix downtown from the air

Near Phoenix, Mesa and Chandler are of the most expensive cities to own a pet. | iStock.com/Dreamframer

Two cities tie for the first spot on our list: Mesa and Chandler, Arizona. Mesa is east of Phoenix and a popular retirement destination for golf and baseball fanatics. (The Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs conduct spring training here.) But those considering owning a pet should consider the high fees associated with dog insurance premiums as Mesa ranks low in budget and wellness for animals. Chandler is just south of Mesa and scores slightly better in the wellness and outdoor friendliness categories.

24. Chicago, Illinois

piles of money

Keep an arsenal of cash on hand for your pets in Chicago. | AMC

WalletHub ranks the Windy City as one of the worst places for pet-friendly housing prices. Chicago also gets dinged for dismal outdoor pet-friendliness ratings due to weather. That makes sense because late-night potty runs aren’t very enjoyable during blizzard-like conditions.

The West Coast weather doesn’t make things much better in our next city …

23. Chula Vista, California

A Siberian Kitten

Owning a cat in California will cost you the big bucks. | Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Chula Vista, just south of San Diego, is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive cities for pet owners. In Chula Vista, you’ll pay about 11% more for a dog-friendly rental. Perhaps you’ll find comfort in knowing all pet owners in the area are also drowning in these high fees.

22. Scottsdale, Arizona


Scottsdale ranks highest in dog amenities per capita. | Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Just a few hours east, we find Scottsdale, Arizona. Unlike its Mesa neighbors, Scottsdale caters well to animals’ needs. WalletHub tied it for first place nationally for the city with the best pet health and wellness features. However, it also has some of the highest dog insurance premiums.

We head east to find one of the least accommodating cities for pets next …

21. Boston, Massachusetts

cute dog on a table

Fido wants a walk. | iStock.com

Boston is one of the few cities representing the Northeast in the race for most expensive places to own a pet. Unlike business owners in Arizona who are cashing in on loving pet owners, Boston is ranked low for pet businesses and veterinarians per capita. Bostonians experience some of the highest vet care bills in the nation. Healthy Paws estimates residents here can expect to pay $2,200 just to treat elbow dysplasia, a dog ailment.

20. Anchorage, Alaska

Byers Lake, Alaska is the closest view to Mount McKinley

Alaska has spots on many “most expensive” lists. | iStock.com/mbarrettimages

It’s no surprise Alaska lands on yet another “most expensive” list. Anchorage is the lucky city that gets to carry the torch for Alaskan pet owners. While it scores 18th best for outdoor-friendly pet activities, it falls to 81st place for pet budgets. Many animals in Alaska are outdoor pets, so extra costs — such as straw, spay and neuter fees, and vaccines — will drastically affect your monthly bills.

19. Portland, Oregon

Corgi dog soft focus

A face this angelic still requires the same high pet bills in Portland. | iStock.com/JackSpoon

Portland is a Northwestern city that considers itself pet-friendly. In fact, it’s rated as having the most dog parks per capita nationally, according to WalletHub. However, renters seem to experience trouble when signing a lease with a pet. After Oregon reshaped its tenant and deposit laws, landlords could not charge pet fees. They could, however, make up the difference in increased security deposit amounts and noncompliance fees.

18. Oakland, California

Piggy bank on buoy floating

Stock your piggy bank before buying any animals. | iStock.com/razihusin

Oakland, California, is not much better in catering to our furry friends. While it scores well in pet health and wellness, it scores low in budget metrics. Oakland is known for a high cost of living with rent prices hovering at a median $2,900. But expect that rental agreement to be quite a bit higher if you want to actually live with your pet. Landlords are likely to jack up the price significantly.

17. Aurora, Colorado

Ragamuffin cat

Are higher rent fees for your pets worth it? | Rob Stothard/Getty Images

Aurora lacks the same population density and metropolitan amenities as Denver. For that reason, Aurora scores much lower for pet friendliness than its neighbor. Aurora’s overall ratings for health and outdoor-friendly experiences land it on this list. Plus, dog owners might have to pay about 20% more for a rental home.

16. Denver, Colorado

The Angry Birds Movie

Even owning birds will be expensive in Colorado. | Columbia Pictures

Denver has been recognized as one of the most active cities in the country. And maybe some of the outdoor enthusiasts would prefer a furry companion by their sides during excursions. Denver pets are quite healthy, ranking 14th overall for wellness. But the city ranks 84th in budget-related costs.

15. Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas cityscape with blue sky

Vet bills in Dallas are as big as the Texas sky. | iStock.com/f11photo

Everything is bigger in Texas, including your pet bills. Dallas scores quite low in all categories WalletHub analyzed, but it’s exceptionally bad for pet expenses. Although Dallas is the only city in Texas to make this list for expensive tendencies, other cities, including Laredo, Corpus Christi, and Lubbock, all make an appearance on WalletHub’s list for overall convenience. Owners will find it difficult to exercise their dogs with fewer parks and veterinarians in the area.

14. Newark, New Jersey

Hungry labrador retriever

It’ll cost you to take care of this hungry Labrador retriever. | iStock.com/Chalabala

Back on the East Coast, we land in Newark, New Jersey. Living with pets here will most certainly drain your savings accounts. Maybe due to its proximity to another notably expensive locale, New York City — which is coming up on this list — we also find Newark charges some of the highest vet-care fees in the nation. It also is ranked dead last for fewest veterinarians and pet businesses per capita.

13. Los Angeles, California

Dachshund dog and flowers

Yes, this little guy can fit into your purse, but he’ll also drain its contents. | iStock.com/Liliya Kulianionak

In a city that experiences minimal rain and ample sunshine, it might be tempting to purchase pets that can help you take advantage of the warmer weather. But WalletHub rates Los Angeles extremely bad for budget-friendly pet fees. So while Hollywood A-listers continue to carry their animals in their purses, middle America will continue to pay inflated care rates and insurance premiums.

12. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Philadelphia is one of the most expensive cities for pets. | iStock.com

To find our next most expensive city to own a pet, we must travel back east to Philadelphia. WalletHub ranks it as one of the most expensive cities for veterinarian-care costs. In fact, depending on your city location, you can expect to pay hundreds of dollars to spay or neuter your dog, depending on its age and size. Those looking for pet-sitters should budget anywhere from $28 to $40 per night.

11. Long Beach, California

beach pier

Residents in Long Beach can enjoy walking on the pier with their dogs. | Youtube/MamaOT

While Long Beach, California, receives a respectable overall score for pet-friendliness (in comparison to others on this list), residents will experience seriously high care fees. But animal lovers must weigh the pros and cons of ownership on the coast. Long Beach advertises a top-10 score for outdoor-friendliness.

10. Fresno, California

walking dogs

A woman makes extra cash walking dogs to accommodate her high pet fees. | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Head toward California’s center to find Fresno, our 10th most expensive city in which to own a pet. Whether you look after a cat, dog, horse, or ferret, you can expect your vet bills and insurance premiums to set you back a pretty penny each year. Bladder stone surgery, though a relatively common and routine canine procedure, will cost you over $1,110 in Fresno.

9. Seattle, Washington

Manx cat

This kitten is your face when you realize how much your vet bill costs. | Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

Like in Portland, Seattle residents face high costs for pet-related expenses. Seattle received low scores for health, wellness, and outdoor-friendly pet accommodations. Its overall pet-friendly score is just under 52 points, almost 2.5 points lower than Portland. Perhaps its 92nd rank for pet budget is what sealed Seattle’s measly fate.

8. Fremont, California

Shichon puppy

Fremont is yet another city in California requiring a big pet budget. | iStock.com/JLSnader

Owning a pet in Fremont, California, might do some irrefutable damage to your wallet. WalletHub gives it a paltry overall pet-friendly score of 44.33, landing it in seventh place for the worst city to own a pet. But you’re not alone in agony, Fremont friends. There are still four other California cities who fare worse than you.

7. Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City skyline

The skyline of Jersey City, New Jersey | Agresti Realty

Jersey City is in — you guessed it — New Jersey. And it’s one of the few East Coast cities that have garnered a bad pet rap. Although it ranked the highest on our condensed list of cities for outdoor-friendliness, it ranks exceptionally poor for pet-related expenses. With a low percentage of veterinarians in the area, owners can expect to pay premium prices for check-ups, procedures, and vaccinations.

6. Santa Ana, California

Dog in sunglasses drink cocktail in bar

This dog is enjoying those Santa Ana breezes. | iStock.com/igorr1

There are many benefits to living in Orange County, California. The sun, the views, and the atmosphere all make Santa Ana a premier destination outside of Los Angeles. However, pet lovers must decide whether they can afford Fido and Fluffy. WalletHub awards Santa Ana with some seriously costly prices. Vet expenses and insurance premiums might take a toll on you.

5. Anaheim, California

Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks

Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks thinks about what it might cost in Anaheim to own a duck. | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We find ourselves in California yet again. With a puny overall WalletHub rating of 36.41, Anaheim lands in fifth for the most expensive city in which to own a pet. It’s also home to Disneyland, one of the happiest places on Earth. But pet owners are more used to singing the blues when it comes to the money they spend on their animals. WalletHub is not a fan of this town’s pet-care costs.

4. Irvine, California

Irvine California

Irvine, California, is the fourth most expensive city to own a pet. | Wikimedia Commons

Again in California, Irvine receives an overall pet-friendly score of 44.48 from WalletHub analysts. Sandwiched between notable Orange County towns, such as Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Santa Ana, Irvine dwellers enjoy easy access to pet amenities and outdoor parks for socializing. But outweighing all the social pet pros is one major con. Owning a pet in California is expensive. By now, that point should be clear with several of its other friends also making the list.

3. Washington, D.C.

Washington DC, USA skyline

Make sure you’re financially ready to own a pet in the nation’s capital. | iStock.com/Sean Pavone

Washington, D.C., ranks as the third most expensive city to own a pet. It is ranked 92nd for veterinary costs alone, according to WalletHub. Let’s hope your cat doesn’t get gastritis. Your vet bill will be equivalent to a mortgage payment — about $1,550.

2. San Francisco, California

A Bulldog is seen in the benching area

It can be saddening to find out how much more rent costs when you have a dog. | Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

We couldn’t cap off our California tour without stopping in San Francisco. Residents will pay approximately $46.74 a month for pet medical coverage. And if you and your companion prefer a place with four walls and modern amenities to call home, budget more in rental fees.

But that’s nothing compared to our absolute most expensive city in which to own a pet …

1. New York City, New York

piggy bank with dollars

You’ll spend the most money on your pets in New York City. | iStock.com

Not only does New York City fall dead last in budget costs, it fares just as badly in pet health and wellness. This means your animals might get sick more often, and you’ll be forced to pay medical expenses higher than any other pet owner in the country. According to Pet Insurance Quotes, the state as a whole accounts for over 10% of all pet policies each month.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

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