Money

Owning a pet can cost you $42,000, or 7 times as much as you expect

Owning a pet can be a rewarding experience. But, as it turns out, it can also be a surprisingly costly one.

A report from the UK-based People's Dispensary for Sick Animals revealed that pet owners drastically underestimate the cost of owning a dog, cat or other beloved pet over its lifetime.

An astounding 98 percent of pet owners polled by the PDSA significantly underestimated the lifetime cost of ownership. 12 percent of respondents expected to pay only $644. A majority of pet owners thought costs wouldn't top $6,445.

It turns out owning a pet over its lifetime, likely over 10 years, costs much, much more than that.

Even excluding expensive and unforeseen veterinarian visits, the likely cost of owning a dog through its lifetime, as calculated by the PDSA, falls in a range of $27,074 to $42,545, depending on the breed. That accounts for everything from the initial costs of acquiring the dog to spaying or neutering and vaccinations, as well as ongoing costs of food, toys and grooming.

Owning a cat appears to be slightly less cost prohibitive, though still more expensive than most people expect. The same expenses over a cat's lifetime, as well as the added cost of cat litter, falls in the range of $21,917 to $30,942. With typical premiums going for around $25 a month, buying pet insurance coverage to protect against the cost of accidents or emergency surgeries can tack on thousands to the total.

Even the cost of owning a rabbit surprised pet owners. Only one percent of rabbit owners correctly predicted that the cost of caring for their pet over its lifespan would likely top $12,893.

To put those expenses in context, the average wedding last year cost just above $35,000, according to the wedding experts at The Knot. Granted that cost is concentrated in one event, rather than spread out over a pet's lifetime.

However, despite the fact most owners underestimate the lifetime cost of owning a pet, many still report an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. Of the more than 4,000 pet owners surveyed by the PDSA, 93 percent said the decision of owning their pet makes them happier.