While many pet owners jump at the chance to spend on their pets, plenty of others don't.
As bills add up, many people let go of the leash.
"People give up pets for the most incredible reasons," says Gina Spadafori, author of "Dogs for Dummies" and "Cats for Dummies" (IDG Books, $19.99 each). The reasons range from the practical (making messes in the house) to the gratuitous ("The dog doesn't match my furniture anymore"), says Ms. Spadafori.
Some people buy pets on impulse. Dalmatians became popular with the movie "101 Dalmatians." But Dalmatians are built to run behind fire wagons; they won't be happy sitting inside all day, says Spadafori.
Iguanas are trendy but expensive and, at 4 to 5 feet long, often outgrow their cages.
Before you buy, make sure you know the cost, time, and care involved. Check with a vet or local animal shelter.
"The initial purchase price is always the smallest expense," Spadafori says.
To keep pet costs down, start cheap. Visit your local animal shelter. To push pooch prices high, go purebred. A sampling of recent breeders' ads in Boston:
Cocker spaniel $500
German shepherd $600
Golden retriever $350
Great Dane $500
Lhasa apso $350
Yorkshire terrier $500
COSTS OF PET SUPPLIES
Doggie water pack $19.99
Fitted doggie rain poncho $5.98
Fitted doggie T-shirt $9.99
Dog beds $41.99
Orthopedic dog bed $49.99
Full-frame bunk-bed style dog bed $119.99
Dog-loo plastic doghouse $59.99-$119.99
Hamster/gerbil palace $29.99
Cat beds $39.99-$109.99
Cat condo $27.00
Cat window perch $39.99
Cat food $100-$200 per year
Dog food $150-$400 per year
PET MAINTENANCE COSTS
Medium/large dogs $400-$600
Small birds (parakeets, finches, etc.) $20-$60
Large birds (Macaus, Cockatoos) $120-$240
Rabbits $60-$120 and up
Small lizards $90
Large lizards $160-plus
Freshwater fish $120
Saltwater fish $86-$136
Source: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals