Easy Guide to Budgeting for a New Pet
Eighty-five million families in the US own a dog, and around 68 percent of families have at least one pet. Not everyone wants to share their home with a cat, dog, rabbit, or similar creature, but if you have enough time and space, a pet can bring you great joy. Stroking a cat or dog is great for stress relief, and kids that grow up with pets tend to have fewer allergies and a better sense of responsibility. But make no mistake, owning a pet can be expensive.
From the vet’s bills to food, pets cost money. It can cost between $1500 and $10k per year to own a dog. If you’re on a low income, the extra level of spending incurred from pet ownership can easily tip you into debt. This is why it is important to create a budget before you rush into buying a pet. Read on for a quick guide to budgeting for a pet, so you can make sure it’s affordable.
Buying a Pet
You have several choices when looking for a pet. First, you can wait until someone you know has a pet you can have, which might be free. You can also adopt a pet from a shelter, which is the best way, given how many pets end up in shelters each year. It costs $100-300 to adopt a dog and slightly less to adopt a cat. If you choose to buy a pet, the purchase price will depend on the breed and how well-bred it is – top breeders can charge thousands of dollars for a sought-after breed.
Buying or adopting a pet is only the beginning. Your next task is to work out how much owning a pet will cost you each month.
Add Up How Much Pet Ownership Will Cost You
Write down all the aspects of pet ownership that might apply to you.
- Food: Pets need their special food. Cheap brands are not too expensive, but it’s better to buy premium pet food—budget around $40 a month for a medium-sized dog.
- Accessories: Your pet will need a bed and other accessories, such as a cage (for smaller pets), a collar and lead (for a dog), and other items, e.g., litter box, toys, travel crate, etc. Work out what your preferred pet might need and price it all up.
- Vet fees: All pets need routine veterinary care. Young dogs and cats need de-sexing, and both should have shots each year to protect them from dangerous illnesses. Routine care can cost several hundred dollars per visit and unplanned events a lot more. Can you afford to have a pet treated if it sustains an injury? If not, reconsider your decision.
- Pet insurance: Pet insurance protects you against horrific vet bills in the event of an accident or serious medical problem. Expect to pay around $40 a month.
Other costs that may be applicable to you include dog walking services and pet boarding fees.
Ways to Save Money
There are always ways to save money. You can save money on dog toys and more if you visit discount sites and look for pet coupons and discount deals. Watch out for pet samples, sign up for newsletters, and take advantage of money off deals. If you’re savvy, pet ownership needn’t be quite so expensive.
Don’t also forget that some pets are cheaper than others. It costs a lot less to keep a small cat than it does a large dog. Small pets like gerbils and fish are even less expensive!
Never buy a pet if your budget is perilously tight. It isn’t fair on the pet or you. It’s also not fair on the many shelters out there that have to pick up the pieces when families decide they can no longer afford to keep their pets.
Last Updated: 7th May, 2020