Paycheck Chronicles

The Cost of Having Pets When You're In The Military


Pets are an important part of many families, and military families are no exception.  What is exceptional is the ways that pet ownership can impact a military family's budget in ways that it doesn't impact a civilian family's budget.  If you're military, and you own a pet (or are thinking about getting a pet,) you have to be prepared for the three extra pet expenses that come with military life.


Owning a pet, or multiple pets, or restricted dog breeds, can limit your housing options.  With the average military member moving every 2-3 years, finding an apartment or house that will accept Fluffy and Fido can become an ongoing job.  When you do find a property that accepts pets, you can expect to pay higher rent, a pet deposit, or pet rent (or possibly all three.)

Most military housing limits pets to two, and does not permit certain breeds of dogs.


Military life can mean that you'll sometimes need someone to take care of your pet.  Whether it's a trip back home to see your family, a surprise training, or the opportunity to explore your current location, you can't always be home.  Military folks are less likely to have friends or family who can help, so they'll need to board/kennel their pet, or find an in-home pet-sitter.  Neither are cheap!

Also, the cost of veterinary care can vary dramatically from location to location. Just because a teeth cleaning is $200 where you live now doesn't mean it will be $200 at your next duty station. While you can shop around, be prepared for costs to be higher or lower when you move.


The military does not reimburse the cost of moving pets, with the exception of a limited allowance to defray the cost of required quarantine.  Vaccinations, crates, and travel expenses are all the responsibility of the service member.  Moving within the United States may mean finding pet-friendly hotels, moving overseas may mean special examinations, quarantine charges, entry fees, and boarding while you find a place to live.  We have one cat, who is now 21.  His late sister and he have lived in Hawaii, Australia, Italy and the United Kingdom.  I estimate we've spent almost $10,000 moving these cats from place to place.  (Gee, that is a lot of money.  It's just really hitting me.)

Pets can be a blessing, but they can also be a financial burden.  If you have a pet, be sure you are budgeting for those extra pet expenses.  If you don't have pets, or you are thinking of getting more, think long and hard about how you'll pay for the associated costs.

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