Getting A Loan To Buy A Pet Is Ridiculous

Recently, I came across the crazy world of pet financing. There are even pet loans for bad credit. From what I found, there are many, many pet stores out there that sell puppies and kittens that let you take out pet financing on them in order to “afford them.” Monthly payments are usually a few…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: January 22, 2024

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pet financingRecently, I came across the crazy world of pet financing. There are even pet loans for bad credit.

From what I found, there are many, many pet stores out there that sell puppies and kittens that let you take out pet financing on them in order to “afford them.”

Monthly payments are usually a few hundred dollars, and because so many people can’t say no to a cute little puppy or kitten, they bring their new furry friend home.

However, this is a disaster because, sadly enough, too many people do not read the fine print in the pet financing terms. Also, when you consider that people are actually taking out a loan means they most likely can’t afford the pet.

I had no idea that people financed animals in order to be able to purchase them, but after thinking about it – of course they do! People finance everything in this loan-happy world that we live in.

However, this can be a very costly mistake.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love animals.

I have two dogs of my own, and, while some may disagree, they are members of our family. We bring them everywhere we go, we love cuddling with them, we regularly (almost daily) go on long hikes with them, we take them to the vet annually, and more.

However, I also know that you don’t need to buy a $3,000 dog in order to find the kind of happiness you get from having a pet. Plus, that $3,000 dog can easily turn into a $5,000+ purchase once interest and other fees have been added.

I did some further research to find what interest rate people are being charged, and I found anywhere from around 36% to 150% interest rates on pet financing.

Keep in mind, a credit card’s interest rate may be around 15% to 24%, so this is much, much higher!

And, there are so many other options for owning a pet.

Related: 12 Things You Need To Know About Traveling With A Dog

Adopting from a shelter versus buying from a pet store.

According to the ASPCA, about 7.6 million animals enter animal shelters each year, and most are eventually available for adoption. And, sadly, there are approximately 2,700,000 pets euthanized each year.

Adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue does cost money, but it is significantly less than the purebred ones you find through breeders or pet stores. A rescue dog or cat costs anywhere from $100-$200 and includes spaying or neutering, any types of procedures or medications the animal needs to be healthy enough to adopt, sometimes microchipping, and more. On the other hand, a purebred dog will cost you somewhere in the thousands of dollars, and if you are financing your pet, it will cost you even more.

This isn’t going to be a post that tells you that you should adopt from rescues rather than breeders or pet stores. But, I will say that there is usually no need for a person to drop thousands of dollars through pet financing on an animal when there are plenty of great dogs, cats, and other pets in need of wonderful homes. Yes, some people may want a specific type of dog for a specific purpose or reason, but the average family most likely does not need a purebred dog or cat.

Related article: Every Dog/Cat Deserves a Home But Not Every Home Deserves A Pet

If you want a specific breed of dog, then go for it. Who am I to tell you what to do?

BUT, one of the most important factors in pet ownership is whether or not you can actually afford that cute dog or cat.

If you are financing a pet, there is a good chance that you can’t actually afford it. Pet loans have notoriously high interest rates, like I mentioned above.

Plus, you may actually be leasing your pet.

Are you leasing your pet?

As you can tell, I am bothered by this subject. So, I did a ton of research. I called various pet loan companies, researched various pet stores that sold expensive pets with loans at crazy high interest rates, and read tons of articles and reviews from people who felt upset and agitated by the situation.

One recurring theme I found was that not only were people paying an exorbitant amount of money on pet financing, they also didn’t know one very important thing – they were actually leasing their pet instead of owning it.

Yes, those pet financing papers may actually be for a lease!

It works like this:

  1. You find a pet and apply for financing.
  2. You sign up for a few years of monthly payments.
  3. What you may not know is that at the end, you may have to pay a lump sum in order to actually own your pet.

And, this is why the interest rate is so high.

Leasing and/or financing a pet can be a horrible idea for so many reasons. Yes, your new furry friend may be super adorable, but there are so many other ways to afford a new pet.

You don’t need to pay thousands of dollars to purchase your new family member. There are countless shelters where you can find a cat, dog, or other pet.

Can you finance a pet? Can I get a loan to buy a dog?

Sometimes you can finance a pet.

But, the question is – Should you?

Recommended reading: 7 Best Dog Walking Apps

What is a pet loan?

A pet loan is a loan so that you can purchase an expensive animal.

You may even find pet financing no credit check, but I highly recommend NOT doing that. That most likely means that it’s just an even more expensive pet loan.

How much does it cost to finance a dog?

Interest rates are extremely high to finance a pet.

36% to 150% is what I found when I did some research.

That is a crazy amount of money.

Can you afford a dog or cat?

Dogs and cats are expensive, no matter how they come into your family.

Many people don’t understand the total cost of owning a dog or cat and only think about the cost of pet food.

Unfortunately, that’s all most people think about, and I am always shocked by that.

You will need to think about veterinarian visits, obedience classes, housing, and more.

The average cost of owning a dog or cat can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000+ annually.

That is a lot of money!

Also, if you travel, you will need to consider whether or not your pet can travel with you. If they can’t, boarding or paying a pet sitter is another additional expense.

If you do travel and are in need of a pet sitter or dog walker, I highly recommend Rover. This link offers Making Sense of Cents readers a $20 credit towards services through Rover.

The bottomline is this, if you cannot afford the costs of owning a pet, then you should wait to adopt one.

You need to make sure you and your family’s financial obligations are taken care of before taking on the cost of adopting a pet. Considering that the average person only saves around 5% or less of their salary each year, the cost of owning a pet ($500 to $2,000 a year) may severely impact your ability to save any money at all.

Plus, no pet deserves to be surrendered at an animal shelter. If you are upfront and realistic with your financial obligations, you can prevent another pet from being surrendered and losing their family.

What do you think of pet financing?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Kristina

    Wow, charging $3,000/$5,000 for a pet is just a horrible way to rip people off. I have owned 4 cats in my lifetime. All from shelters. Not only will you save a life by adopting a shelter animal, but you’ll apparently also save a ton of cash. My shelter asked for a one time donation only and would have given me each cat even if I wouldn’t have been able to donate.

    Rescue! Don’t shop!

  2. Kara

    WOW! I cannot believe this is even a real thing! I support the ASPCA 100%…adopt a shelter dog. Thank you for this posting…I hope it reaches someone who is contemplating this option.

    p.s. I love your blog…I have been a follower for a long time.

    1. I was so surprised when I learned about this too!

  3. Kathleen Bandaruk

    Thank you sooooooo much for bringing this up! There are so many abandoned pups out there that don’t cost but a few bucks but the love they share is priceless!
    Please keep up the good work spreading the word to adopt those beautiful creatures out there that are just longing for a family of their own.
    Thank you again – I’m so glad there are influencers out there like you who are trying to make a difference in the world. Hugs 🙂

  4. Heidi

    The worst part of this whole story? That the people buying from a pet store have no idea the suffering that the parents of these puppies and kitties go through. Pet stores sell animals from puppy mills, not responsible breeders. Puppy mills are places in usually rural areas where animals are not given health care, kept in small wire crates their entire lives, and given awful food and no human touch. It’s sickening.

    Pet stores know their days are numbered because their practices are being brought to light, so they are trying other tactics to get people to impulse buy an animal. There’s almost no need to argue that borrowing money to get an animal is a bad idea.

    Getting a pet from a pet store is a bad idea for bigger reasons – you just became part of the system that treats animals inhumanely. Please adopt or get an animal from a responsible breeder that lets you see the dogs in their daily environment.

    Sorry to get off on a tangient, but some people still don’t know where pets from pet stores come from.

  5. Allie

    I used to volunteer at a puppy rescue that only accepted cash and an ATM was nowhere nearby. There were times when people didn’t realize that so they would plead hardship or whatever else;it was hard to tell them that they could go get the money, but we couldn’t hold their puppy (only open on weekends and it was a madhouse of people and who knew if they’d actually come back, our job was to find the puppy the best home we could).

    I quickly came to the conclusion through that and owning my own dogs that if there is ANY trouble coming up with the money to adopt a pet (whether it’s $100 at a shelter or $1000s from a breeder), you simply can’t afford to own a pet. As you mentioned, the annual costs to care for a pet far outweigh the costs to adopt one. One of my dogs had two TPLOs to the tune of about $8K in just one year (not including his routine vet care, food, etc.). I’ve estimated a time or two how much my (big) dogs likely cost me over the span of their lives – it’s a shocking number. But I wouldn’t trade the 13/14 years I had with them for anything. I plan to adopt again, knowing full well the costs, but also knowing that I can fit them into my budget.

    Isn’t predatory lending illegal? How has this flown under the radar? I had never heard of it, either.

    1. This is considered a “lease” and that’s how they are able to get around the laws, at least that’s what I learned from the research that I did.

  6. The Curious Frugal

    Omigod I can’t believe this is a thing. I’ve never heard of financing to buy a pet. Just no. I have two shelter cats and I’m quite sure they’re no less adorable or cuddly than cats I could have spent much more money on.

  7. I’ve never heard of pet financing and my mind is literally blown! I think another huge problem I have with this is that taking care of pets can be expensive– from feeding it, to taking care of health problems that may arise, fixing any damage that may happen to your yard or home… not to mention spoiling him with treats or things he doesn’t necessarily need. Crazy! There are DEFINITELY more budget friendly ways to have a pet– we have the world’s cutest boxer even though we are paying off $650k of student loan debt. We adopted him for free (but i’ll admit, he’s still expensive in the other ways I previously mentioned 😉

    1. Exactly! We have two great dogs and they were both rescues! One is even a French Bulldog – most people are shocked when they hear that we got him from a family that had to get rid of him as a puppy. He was just 6 months old and purebred – you don’t need to go to an expensive breeder or a pet store to get a pup.

  8. Janita

    Such an important post! I agree it is a disaster waiting to happen when pet financing. It scares me that if people can’t afford to buy their pet, can they really afford to take care of it. I loved your comment “loan-happy world” thinking about it, our world really does have loans for just about everything!

    1. I definitely agree with you!

  9. Barb

    All pets I adopt will be free ones from friends, family, or other private individuals. I’m glad that shelters want to ensure that pets are properly vaccinated and cared for, but getting the vaccinations myself is considerably cheaper than paying all the fees charged by shelters. Also, the screening process at some of the shelters is ridiculous. My nephew, who lives in Chicago, had to go through through laborious interviews and checks from a woman at the shelter who was somehow convinced he wouldn’t be a good cat owner. When he mentioned that he’s a veterinarian (which he is), she claimed that veterinarians are some of the worst pet owners!

    1. Most shelters offer vaccinations at a fraction of the cost.


    I also heard about pet financing fairly recently and had the exact same reaction.

    Great post as usual Michelle! If you can’t afford the pet in the first place, you definitely can’t afford the pet for its lifetime.

    1. It is SO CRAZY! Ugh, I still can’t believe it.

  11. Hi Michelle! This is the first time I’ve ever heard about pet financing, and at a 36% to 150% interest rate? Isn’t that just daylight robbery?

    Having a pet is expensive as hell. My brother has a labrador, which eats literally everything. Last year, it swallowed a stone. He had to send the labrador to surgery, which set him back a thousand or more bucks. On top of all the pet food, regular veterinarian visits, and obedience classes, you could get unexpected medical expenses as well!

    It’s sad how schemes like pet financing are around and taking advantage of people’s vulnerability to cute animals. If people require financing for even the cost of the pet, they’ll probably be in debt for a loooong time, after taking into account all the other expenses involved.

    1. It’s sad on both sides. People who offer the financing are horrible, but I don’t get how people could fall for this as well.

  12. Rachel Drinkard

    I’ve paid $3,000 for a dog before and would consider doing it again under the right circumstances. However, that dog would NOT be found at a pet store and “financing” would not be available. Such a gross predatory scam.

    The financing part of this is valid. The “can you afford a pet” part is valid. But people get dogs for a variety of reasons, and just because a shelter pup can fulfill your wants/needs/expectations does not mean that is the case for everyone.

    1. I agree Rachel, and that is why I said “Yes, some people may want a specific type of dog for a specific purpose or reason, but the average family most likely does not need a purebred dog or cat.”

      I stand by that statement still.

  13. If you can’t afford to buy a pet then you shouldn’t get one. Just today we ended up spending over $500 because our puppy managed to get one of our older dog’s epilepsy pills (thank goodness he is okay). Imagine if we had had to finance that and had financed his purchase as well.
    Two of our last three cats have been rescues and I would never buy a kitten again. It was great to see Tess’s nature and make an informed decision as to how she would fit into our family before we brought her home.

    1. I definitely agree with you.

  14. in my opinion not only loan is ridiculus is absolutely ridiculus buy an animal, this is my opinion!!!

  15. I had no idea there are companies offering this! As you say if they have to finance to buy the pet then they most likely can’t afford the sweet animal…then what happens?…they can’t adequately care for it? There are other expenses involved too with being the guardian of an animal. And there are sooooo many rescue animals who need loving homes…my sweet Tripod is a rescue and she’s the best thing EVER. Best that’s happened here. Huh, I’m just beyond stunned…this makes me nauseous to think about at many levels. I don’t see the ‘good’ for people nor animals in this one. Except those making the $$$ on the financing. My stomach churns.

    1. Yeah, I don’t know how pet stores and the financing companies live with themselves.

  16. Thank you for this article!! I’m definitely a huge rescue advocate, especially since we literally picked up our two pups Roxy & Rico off the streets of Puerto Rico while living there. With so many dogs desperate for homes, I can’t even begin to comprehend spending that much to finance a pet. It’s pretty sad to think of how many dogs that kind of money could save.

  17. Shannon

    Important to point out that even if you want a specific breed, you can still adopt. There are a lot of rescue organizations that work only with specific breeds and types of animals – beagles, labs, poodles, etc.. If you do have your heart set on a specific breed, google that breed and rescue. You may be surprised at the options out there. And definitely don’t finance!

  18. Great article!

    In a nutshell, purchasing a purebred puppy from a pet store is more than likely funding a puppy mill breeder. These puppies are riddled with health issues, poor genetics and are often sick at the time of purchase. If you adopt a purebred dog from a rescue organization, you probably get better DNA than from a puppy in a pet store. If you want a purebred dog for the purpose of a certain job (service dog) or sports competition (agility or flyball, for example) you may be better off getting a dog from a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder won’t send their puppies to a pet store, nor will they finance your purchase. But you will likely pay thousands to get a genetically sound, well-raised puppy.

  19. Anne

    Adopt a shelter dog!!!!

  20. HighOnCapital

    Yes, adopting a pet is a much better alternative. That’s what we did and have no regrets.

  21. FIbythecommonguy

    I have never heard of this and find it unreal! Wow! I don;t even know what to say. We adopted our dog and couldn’t be happier. He has brought us 12 years (and counting) of happiness, joy and lifetime of memories.

  22. Aside from the puppy mill issue and the predatory loan issue (both horrible) I’m not sure anyone has mentioned that the decision to bring a pet into your life should not be done on a whim. Of course sometimes animals come into our lives as strays or whatever and it can work out–but the decision should take more thought than “hmm, can I afford this monthly dog payment?” There is no way I could have gotten a puppy last year if my husband did not have the flexibility to work from home and take the dog to work while potty training. It’s not just money, it’s also time and changing your lifestyle.

    And I’m assuming these are puppies being sold–which take some knowledge and a LOT of time to raise and train properly. All of this just sets pet owners and the animals up for failure. (And most likely, an untrained, unsocialized dog dumped at the shelter once it is no longer a cute baby.)

  23. Animals are expensive, even outside of the upfront prices! I found out that even a healthy lab from a pound costs us more than 2k a year, and wrote about it here:

    We just bought a purebred King Charles Cavalier, $1,200 just for the pup. Plus their food is 12x more expensive than our labs food, so it’ll be an even more expensive dog.

  24. As a veterinarian, I have first hand knowledge that owning a pet is a huge time and money commitment! It saddens me that people need to finance the purchase of a pet, which then sets them up for more financial difficulties down the line with the many costs that go into owning a pet. If owning a pet is very important to you, make sure you prepare yourself emotionally and financially for that commitment. If you need to save for it, then save for it. It needs to be an ongoing line item in your budget. If not, you could find yourself making very difficult decisions down the line that depend on how much you money you have available to take care of your pet.

  25. I’ve known about pet financing for awhile (especially since pretty much anything can be financed these days) but I heard about pet leasing the other day on the Clark Howard podcast. It’s much worse than simply financing since they’re trying to get you attached to your pet so you are even more eager to spend (or refinance, or what have you) that lump-sum in the end.

  26. Much better here by mentioning adopting. I wish you would’ve in your Aug. 27 article on the same subject. It was necessary to bring up in some form or another, no matter the space you had to write. I wish pet shops would go out of business, to separate money from breeding animals. Shelters are the place to go!

    1. Thanks. I was staying on the correct topic 🙂