Raising a pet requires a lot of financial responsibility. You need to make sure that you can meet your pet’s every need and, depending on the pet, that can cost a lot of money.
According to a breakdown of the annual costs of raising a pet, dogs came out on top ranging from $737 (small dogs) to $1,040 (large dogs).
That’s without even getting into emergency medical procedures and congenital health problems associated with certain breeds. Even your rabbits, fish, birds and guinea pigs come with their own costs that can add up over time.
If you’re going to bring a pet into your home, you need to make sure you can afford to care for it. These financial tips from pet experts can help.
1. Build a budget and consider all potential costs
“People need to consider that a pet is a long-term commitment — not unlike children,” says Maria Fotopoulos, founder of Animal Lives Matter.
And, just like raising a child, a pet has lots of little needs you need to factor into your budget. Among the many things you need to budget for, Fotopoulos provides just a small sampling including:
- Flea medication.
- Cat litter.
A longer list of pet care costs can be found in this breakdown put together by the ASPCA.
“When considering bringing a pet or pets into a household, one needs to consider all potential costs,” says Fotopoulos. It rings true and, in some cases, you might even need to prepare to pay for any known medical conditions in your pet’s history.
However, knowing upfront what the cost will be can go a long way toward determining if you can afford to raise a pet. Don’t forget that, on top of the pet costs, you’ll also need to handle your everyday budget. Our Home Budget Calculator is just one of the many free tools that can help you add it all up.
2. Understand the cost of equipment
You might be thinking to yourself that something smaller like a bunny or a ferret might not break your bank. Indeed, the food and the recurring medical costs can be rather low compared to those of a dog or cat. However, other pets like reptiles and fish require equipment and power costs that can throw you for a loop.
“People often think reptiles are ‘easy’ pets but forget to budget for correct equipment,” says artist and pet owner Tina Mammoser. “Correct set-ups can be a high initial cost — with vivariums, UV lighting, heat lighting, humidity control, etc.”
If you’re planning on a pet that requires a lot of equipment, you need to know the costs. Whether your pet has fur, scales or gills, they all have specific needs that must be met.
3. Look to your local animal shelter
“Many local animal shelters offer low-cost spay/neuter and low cost vaccination resources,” says Bryn Nowell of A Dog Walks Into A Bar. “They are popular, so make sure you make an appointment in advance.”
Some shelters are so eager to put an end to overpopulation that they will offer discounted spay/neuter services. Others will provide voucher programs for vaccinations. There are even some shelters that will help offset the high cost of pet food.
“Some shelters even have food pantries for pet owners experiencing a financial hardship,” says Nowell.
The Humane Society has also put together a comprehensive listing of national and state resources for pet owners in need. You can also check them out for more financial tips.
4. Consider the cost of pet insurance
“The best advice that I ever received was from a vet who encouraged me to buy pet insurance that was offered through the shelter,” says pet owner and lifestyle blogger Stephanie Bell.
Pet insurance is a cost many people would like to avoid. However, it can also be a valuable financial safety net when disaster strikes.
“You can’t foresee every possible situation consider pet insurance,” says Mandy Snell, pet lover and business coach. “I rescued a new puppy last fall, and my vet provided us with a 30-day free trial for pet insurance. Two weeks later, I found my lethargic puppy breathing heavily, not wanting to eat or move.”
Snell goes on to say: “He ate something that wasn’t food, which caused a chain reaction resulting in a week in a veterinary hospital and emergency surgery. The bill amounted to over 4 months’ worth of my take home pay. Had it not been for insurance, I would’ve had to return him to the rescue.”
On top of all that, there are plenty of benefits to pet insurance including coverage for older pets. There also aren’t any out-of-network issues you commonly encounter with human health insurance.
5. Be willing to exercise with your pet
Since it is often a pet’s health that can be the biggest expenditure, you could also try providing them with some exercise. This financial tip can help with their joints and can prevent weight issues down the road.
“Dogs are naturally active by nature,” says New York attorney and pet owner Leslie H. Tayne, Esq. “by not exercising them your dog can take on behavioral problems and possible health problems. So, get active with your pet! It can help them avoid health problems while also helping you to prevent pet care costs.”
By keeping your pet active, you help their health which, in turn, can help minimize any healthcare costs relating to pet obesity and mobility.
Remember these financial tips for raising a pet and think long and hard before bringing one into your life. Pets can help improve our lives in so many ways, but you must make certain you can afford to take care of one. Whether it’s one of the old mainstays like a dog or cat, or something a little less conventional (lizards), each and every pet deserves your care and attention. Make sure you can afford to raise a pet before you get one.