Most people, at some point in their life, decide to get a pet. They see the puppy in the window or the horse in the show ring and fall in love. Before making such a purchase it is important to ensure that the budget has room to spare. Owning an animal is not only an emotional commitment, it is also a financial commitment. Once an animal is purchased, it cannot be thrown away like a piece of paper.

When considering a pet, it is important to consider upcoming events that may affect the budget – life events such as marriage, child, move, divorce, or job change. These situations can change the entire financial picture. While buying a betta fish may have minimal long-term financial consequences, buying a horse can cost you thousands of dollars annually for thirty years. Consider how the following expenses fit into each of those scenarios.

Initial Purchase

Although the initial price for a betta fish is a few dollars, the initial price for a horse is significant and can drastically vary. The price of a horse is determined by age, breed, bloodlines, color, conformation, and level of training.


While the betta fish’s living arrangement may cost $10, building a barn for a horse can cost as much as a human house. If the horse needs to be boarded elsewhere, this fee typically ranges from $200 to $500 per month. The type of shelter, amount of pasture, and other amenities can drive this price even higher.


The betta fish can feed off the same small container of food for several months. A horse on the other hand requires a substantial amount of hay. Hay can be produced for as little as a dollar per small bale, but costs between $5 and $12 per small bale. This calculates out to $30 to $360 per month, if the horse is solely relying on hay. During summer months, grass can be substituted for hay. Expect to have at least 1 acre of quality grass to maintain a thousand pound horse. Depending on age and body build, feed may be added to the diet. A bag of feed costs $10 to $30 and typically lasts two to four weeks. A horse may also require certain supplements. Common supplements are used to improve joint and hoof health.

Medical Expenses

A betta fish does not require annual vaccinations. A horse requires different vaccinations depending on location. Horses are also more prone to getting injured or sick which can add to the yearly vet bill. If a male horse is purchased that has not been gelded, this is an expense to consider.


Betta fish require minimal equipment. Horses require feeding equipment, grooming equipment, working equipment such as saddles and bridles, specialty equipment such as blankets, and travel equipment such as a truck and trailer.


A betta fish does not need to be trained to be a pet. Depending on the horse’s current level of training, it may require additional training. Will a trainer need to be hired or is the owner knowledgeable enough to complete the training? This training fee may cost thousands of dollars.

Owning and caring for a pet can be a tremendously rewarding experience, but understanding the financial investment before becoming emotionally invested can limit unforeseen financial stress.

What budget considerations do you discuss with clients who are considering a pet?

Guest Contributor: April Meza, AFC®

December 01, 2017

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