Thinking about getting a new pet? read this first
If you’re wondering whether you have the budget for a new pet, you’re right to be considering your finances before deciding whether to get a new furry friend.
According to the ASPCA, the first year of dog ownership can cost roughly $1,500-2,000, depending on the size of the dog. For cat ownership, you’re looking at approximately $1,200. If you’re lucky enough to adopt a cat like Garfield, these costs can be even higher, lasagna is not cheap.
The good news is that roughly one-third of that total includes upfront expenses that you won’t have to pay year after year. However, the remaining two-thirds consists of annual fees that will continue to affect your budget—so make sure you’re equipped to cover them before taking the plunge!
Whether you pay a small adoption fee, purchase a pet, or find a free one in the local classifieds, you’ll need to cover some upfront fees. If adopting, a nominal fee typically covers spaying or neutering, standard healthcare such as vaccinations, and sometimes microchipping (plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing you saved a life!). If you buy or find a free pet, you’ll probably have to cover those expenses on your own, which could cost over $800.
Dog training can cost $30 to $80 per class (or much more for private training or “doggy boot camps”). Consider whether you can handle the training needs of any pets you’re considering on your own. But, if your cat is anything like a certain mischievous, chubby tabby, expect to pay for continuous training.
Food can range from just over $200 to around $400 for dogs, while food for cats averages $224, according to the ASPCA. That includes dry kibble—if your cat is more akin to Garfield, with an insatiable appetite for gourmet food, it will probably run higher; much, much higher. Keep in mind that your pet’s food needs may change over time due to age, health, and the condition of their teeth.
Annual medical exams may cost $160 for a cat, $210 for a small dog, or $260 for a large dog, says the ASPCA. That’s not including medications, flea and tick treatments, and other additional services.
Most dog or cat owners will be hit with a $2,000 to $4,000 healthcare bill at some time in their pet’s life. Consider whether you can put money into an emergency fund to cover unforeseen healthcare expenses.
If you’re considering pet insurance, look for a company that doesn’t raise premiums as your pet ages, which often surprises dog and cat owners with hefty monthly fees. The average pet owner cancels a plan after three years when it becomes too expensive, says The Washington Post. By the time your pet is 12, a plan can cost $150 per month or $11,172 per year—money you’d probably be much better off putting into a savings account for emergency use.
Consider how much you plan on traveling and whether you have friends or family who would be willing to watch your dog or cat. Pet sitters can charge anywhere from $20 to $75 per day, depending on where you live and how much time you need them to spend with your pet.
If you want someone to housesit overnight while you’re away, expect to pay in the $45 to $75 per day range or $250 to $375 per week. Be sure to have plenty of sitting backups, just in case your pet loves to torment “the help.”
Grooming costs can range from $50 for a good brush to $1,400 for frequent professional grooming. Consider what type of grooming your prospective pet might need, and whether you’ll be equipped and willing to handle it at home. If you’re looking at long-haired dog breeds, you might end up making monthly trips to the groomer, whereas with a short-haired dog or cat, you might have no trouble doing it yourself.
Toys and Equipment
For toys and treats, expect to spend anywhere from $25 for cats to $75 for a large dog, while cat litter averages $165 per year, says the ASPCA. A crate for a dog or cat might cost $40 to $60, a litter box $25, and a scratching post $30.
If you’re renting a home or apartment, you may need to pay a pet deposit fee—or your existing fee may increase when you get a new pet. Pet deposits are often in the $200 range. Still, they can vary widely, and some apartment complexes even charge a smaller monthly “pet rent” fee tacked onto your monthly rent. Likewise, if you ever need to travel with your pet and stay in a hotel, you may need to pay an additional deposit or fee.
And of course, if your pet has a certain beloved cartoon character’s propensity for wreaking havoc on his owner’s life, you might find yourself shelling out cash to replace furniture, doors, shoes … you get the idea.
If these costs seem manageable, you may be ready to take the next step and start looking for your next dog or cat. Organizations like the ASPCA, the Humane Society, and Best Friends are great places to look, as they’ll help you find the ideal animal companion and ensure it’s set up with the necessary medical care at a low price. If you’re not quite ready yet, you may want to focus on saving up so that one day, you will be!
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