The Downsides of Having a Pet

Humans are sometimes so preoccupied with the idea of owning a pet that they forget about the responsibilities that come with it. Of course, having a pet who is happy to welcome you home after a long day as well as one who will encourage you to get some exercise is great, but it’s also vital to remember that having pets is a lifetime commitment. After all, they’re creatures whose survival relies on their human owners.

Recognizing the disadvantages of owning a pet and acknowledging your capabilities as a pet owner are requirements of responsible pet ownership.


close up of a cat’s face

Financial Responsibility

Pet ownership entails spending a lot of money. Owning a pet means you’re adding another member to your family, which means you have to pay for their food and medical needs. Pets such as cats and dogs require spaying and neutering, parasite prevention, and vaccinations. 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that the yearly financial spend for a small dog is about $420,  $620 for a medium dog, and $780 for a large dog— basic supplies and neutering expenses not included. Taking care of a cat also costs an estimated amount of about $545 yearly, and that’s also not including spaying or neutering and basic supplies.

Small animals also entail spending:  $675 yearly for rabbits and between $550 and $800 annually for Guinea pigs.

Considering that, like humans, animals can get sick, you should also add unplanned medical services to your pet expenses. As your pet ages, they become more prone to various medical conditions that require more visits to the vet, medication, testing, and procedures, adding up to a considerable amount of expenses.


Another disadvantage of pet ownership is the instant addition to your responsibilities. Similar to young children, pets rely on their owners for every little thing. Also, if you haven’t trained them yet, they will not understand your anger once they make a wrong. 

Time Commitment

Taking care of pets takes time, even when it doesn’t need much social engagement, such as fishes. Pets don’t clean up after themselves; instead, they only know the proper place to take care of their business. Dogs still need to be walked and tidied up after, cats still require their litter boxes cleaned and replaced, and small animals still need regular housekeeping.

Small animals even need additional care as their living areas need to be cleaned and maintained regularly, such as washing the cage and removing every bedding. Fish tanks require frequent water-quality monitoring and water replacements to ensure that the fishes live in a healthy and safe environment.

Except for the fundamental toileting and feeding tasks, pets also need to be constantly engaged with. Dogs need primary obedience training to keep them well-behaved. Pets are social animals. Take cats and dogs, for example; they usually thrive in the company of other humans and animals. 

Some cat and dog breeds are more independent than any others, which means they are better at coping with the absence of their humans. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, proper mental stimulation and exercise, suited to a pet’s age, health, and breed, are essential aspects of responsible pet ownership.

Potential Safety Hazards

Another aspect to consider is the safety hazard that a pet may bring to your life. A pet may be a lovely addition to your family when you have young kids, but a large dog breed will need additional training and attention to ensure that it’s safe around children. Likewise, territorial or aggressive types of pets may not be the best choice if you’re living with other dependents. It’s crucial to consider every one of your family’s needs before considering owning a pet.


Having an allergic reaction to pets is another disadvantage of pet ownership. If you are not aware of what you’re allergic to, owning a dog or a cat may bring unforeseen issues. Bear in mind that you have continued exposure to allergens will make your allergies worse.

If you’re not sure of your allergy to animals, volunteering to spend time in an animal shelter or pet sitting for your friend might be something for you to try before owning a pet.

Social Consequences

Mostly everyone has neighbors. It would help if you considered whether bringing a pet in will affect the quality of life of your neighbors. For instance, a dog may bark too loud, and the noise might disturb people. Dogs and cats left to saunter outdoors may damage other people’s homes and gardens, leaving lots of mess behind.

Saying Goodbye

Arguably the worst disadvantage of owning a pet is bidding them goodbye. Pets often have shorter lifespans than their owners and watching them die from illness or age is hard to endure. Whether they passed out of sickness or from your decision to euthanize them humanly, a pet’s death can be a harrowing experience.