Perhaps the time has come for your family to consider adopting a pet. But, which one? How much do different pets cost to adopt and care for? What level of care should you expect? Here are the top six most common family pets and the scoop on each:


Dogs by far are the most popular pet in American households. Friendly and fun, these furry family members create a bond with kids like no other pet. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the 10 best breeds for families are Labrador Retrievers, Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Pugs, Irish Setters, Brussels Griffons, Newfoundlands, French Bulldogs and Collies. ADOPTION COST: $800 - $1,200 for purebreds from reputable breeders (find them through AKC). Adoption fees at local rescue shelters like Nashville Humane Association range from $45  $160 based on breed, size, age, etc. Adoption fees from shelters typically include spaying/neutering, vaccinations and veterinary treatment while at the shelter. LIFE EXPECTANCY/HEALTH: 10 - 13 years for most breeds. Some breeds are predisposed to certain illnesses/ailments like hip dysplasia (especially in large dogs), ear infections and gastric issues. Do your homework before you adopt! CARE: Dogs are pack animals and need daily interaction and stimulation. Expect to pay an average of $325 - $750 per year on food (ranging from small to large breeds and quality of food). Dogs with heavy coats need regular brushing and grooming. Heartworm prevention runs around $90/year and flea/tick prevention averages around $135/year. Obedience training’s a great investment. Group classes range from $50 - $125 while private sessions at your home can be around $800. Prepare to clean up lots of poop from your yard or hire a service to do it for you. FUN FACT: The average dog can run about 19 mph. Greyhounds are the fastest dogs on Earth and can run at speeds of 45 mph.


 Like dogs, felines come in many breeds, some more suitable for kids. The Cat Fanciers’ Association offers lots of info about different breeds, including temperament. While some kitties have a reputation of being stand-offish, many have friendly dispositions. Those with playful, affectionate personalities that make purr-fect family pets include American Curl, American Shorthair, Maine Coon, RagaMuffin, Havana Brown, Burmese, Bombay, Birman, Manx and RagDoll. ADOPTION COST: At Nashville Humane Association, kittens start at $85, adult cats start at $45. Price includes spay/neuter and vaccinations. LIFE EXPECTANCY/HEALTH: Indoor cats can live 12 - 18 years. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the most common illnesses in cats include cancer, diabetes, leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, upper respiratory infections and ringworm. CARE: Cats are relatively easy to care for as they groom themselves — though many cats enjoy a good brushing, too! Food per year can run $100 - $200+, and bank on $110/year for heartworm prevention and $135/year for flea/tick treatment. Plus, there are annual vaccinations, toys, litter, perches and more. According to, the annual average cost of cat care after adoption can range from $310 - $525 given there are no special needs or lots of vet visits. Cleaning your kitty’s litter box regularly is a least-favorite task, but one to keep up with daily. It may take a little bit of trial and error to land on the best litter for your cat (and you!). There are a lot of brands/types. You’ll want one that masks the odor. FUN FACT: Kittens are delightfully playful. Invest in some interactive toys for your kids to enjoy with Kitty. Crank it up with catnip-infused playthings! says cats knead with their paws when they’re happy.


Most first pets for young kids are favorites like hamsters, mice, guinea pigs and the like. Let’s talk about happy little hamsters! The five most popular species are Roborovski, Syrian, Campbell’s Dwarf, Chinese and Winter White Russian Dwarf. ADOPTION COST: $12 - $20 at most pet stores. LIFE EXPECTANCY/HEALTH: Average lifespan is two to three years, says The Hamster House. Wet tail is the most common hamster disease caused by stress. Baby hamsters are more prone to have it than adults. CARE: Hamsters are inexpensive to care for. Expect to pay about $150 the first year, which includes the hamster, cage, toys and supplies. Monthly food and bedding will cost around $15 - $20 per month. Feeding your hamster a high-quality diet will help extend his lifespan. Avoid the highly colored seed/pellets as they include additives — natural is best. Hamsters enjoy fresh fruits and veggies, but dole those out in small doses to prevent diarrhea. Never bathe your hamster — they’re susceptible to colds, plus water rids the fur of essential oils. Hamsters thrive on exercise, so be sure to include a wheel in the cage. Make sure to teach your child to always wash his hands before handling his hamster — if the little guy smells food on fingers, he might bite! FUN FACT: Hamsters are most active during twilight hours and will often store food in their cheeks for later eating. You’ll definitely want to get a run-about hamster ball. Your kids will get a kick out of watching their pet roll through the house. Their incisor teeth never stop growing, so keep stuff in their habitat for gnawing. You might think twice about breeding them. While seven pups is average, hamsters can have up to 24 babies at one time!


Sociable, talkative and colorful, birds are fascinating pets. There are lots of varieties with the most common for kids being the Budgerigar, aka Budgie. It’s the most common parakeet species in the U.S. ADOPTION COST: $20 - $25 at most pet stores. LIFE EXPECTANCY/HEALTH: Budgies can live 7 - 15 years with proper care. They can be prone to tumors, goiters and other conditions related to an all-seed diet. CARE: Basic cages start at $25. For $70, you can find starter kits that include a cage, bag of food, swing, mineral block, perches, food/water bowls and toys. Expect to spend about $75 - $100 per year on food. Budgies also enjoy a regular serving of green veggies like lettuce and broccoli. They also like apples and melon. Keep your bird’s cage away from drafty areas as they have delicate respiratory systems. For safety, clip your bird’s wings regularly (proper clipping is painless) so he doesn’t injure himself flying inside when out of his cage. You’ll fork out between $30 - $70 a year for toys, too. FUN FACT: Easily hand trained, Budgies become loyal, loving little friends. Males are the best talkers. Forty-five percent of pet birds in the U.S. are Budgies.


Reptiles are remarkable exotic creatures, and some kids jam on having pet snakes and lizards. Reptiles are quiet and easy to care for. “Bearded dragons make a great first pet for kids ages 7 - 10,” says Jeremy Britton, reptile specialist at The Aquatic Critter in Nashville. Here’s the scoop on bearded dragons: ADOPTION COST: $55 - $80 LIFE EXPECTANCY/HEALTH: Seven to 10 years is average, though Britton says some can live up to 15 years. They go through naturally occurring hibernation cycles each year and shed their skin as they grow. Metabolic bone disease can occur due to lack of calcium, vitamin D3 and/or phosphorus.   CARE: Expect to pay $180 for a tank set-up with heat and UVB lamps for a baby dragon. It’ll be upward of $300 for an adult size in need of a 40-gallon tank. You’ll be buying lots of live crickets and a variety of worms in addition to feeding your dragon fresh fruits and plants. Expect to shell out $150/year in food supplies during babyhood; it’ll be less once he’s an adult (16 months). Dragons need at least eight hours a day with the heat and UVB lamps on them. Be sure to teach your kids proper hand washing before and after handling their pet; reptiles can transmit salmonella. FUN FACT: Nine bearded dragons were on call for the parts of the lizards in the 2003 film Holes. Non-toxic finger paint was used to make them appear bright in color. Computers helped create the action.


Fun to watch, fish contribute to a serene environment. There are many varieties for freshwater and saltwater tanks, and the amount of money you can spend ranges greatly based upon tank size, filtration system and how exotic you go with fish species. Goldfish are great starters for youngsters. As kids get older, they can have a world of underwater fun by upgrading to saltwater tanks with a variety of exotic fish and other sea life as well as living coral reefs. ADOPTION COST: Approximately $3 a pop for fantail goldfish. LIFE EXPECTANCY/HEALTH: The average lifespan for pet goldfish is 5 - 10 years, but they can live up to 20 with proper care. CARE: For best results, a small aquarium with a filter is best. Clean the tank every 10 days. For little kids starting out, you can get a three-and-a-half gallon aquarium for less than $30, or opt to go bigger and get a 38-gallon starter kit for around $130. Kids can have fun decorating the environment with colorful gravel, plants and ornamental decor. Goldfish flakes with prebiotics (important for digestive health) range from $4 for one-ounce cans to $13.50 for seven-ounce cans. Be careful not to overfeed them. Goldfish specifically will eat themselves to death. FUN FACT: According to Pure Goldfish, goldfish are the most popular aquarium fish in the world with 480 million sold each year. Their taste buds are on their lips. Save