How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?
How much is that doggy in the window?
We have all been there. We see an adorable new puppy or kitten – or even an exotic animal like an iguana - and our hearts open the door to a new pet in the house. What we often forget is opening the door to a new pet also means opening the door to our bank accounts.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) on average, the first-year cost of pet ownership exceeds $1,000. Some of these costs are one-time pet expenses – such as adoption fees, spaying/neutering, a pet microchip, and a crate, leash and collar – which do last a few years. However, the expenses do not end there and continue on to be annual expenses.
Annual expenses for our furry friends include pet food, annual medical exams, and annual testing – for example, heartworm in dogs. There is also purchasing kitty litter (if cats are your pet of choice), grooming, toys and treats, and insurance. Yes, there is pet insurance and yes, it is recommended for those unexpected vet visits. These annual costs range annually from $650-$700.
We also have to remember the miscellaneous expenses – boarding our pets when we go out of town, pet deposits if we are renters, and those unfortunate times our little animals get sick, hurt or need an emergency procedure such as surgery.
So, we see all the numbers but still have a place in our heart and home for a pet (I know I do!). What do we all need to do to save money and prepare for being a pet owner?
Overall, figure out how monthly expenses will affect your budget. Ensure you have money set aside – about $1,000 minimum for an emergency fund for an unexpected vet bill. It is also a great idea to research the various pet insurance options out there. Every policy is different so be sure to read all the requirements and fine lines, but insurance could help save you money in the long run and ease the burden of a large vet bill.
There are also numerous ways to save when it comes to pet ownership.
One way to save hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars is by adopting from a pet rescue or animal shelter. Not only are these pets (most likely) spayed or neutered, but they have usually already been vaccinated as well. It is a win-win for everyone – you will save on costs and you’ll save a furry life and give someone a brand new loving home.
It is also important to research the breed of animal you are bringing home. Some breeds are more prone to certain issues/diseases that could cost more later. Experts say mixed breeds do not get sick as often and tend to live a longer life.
Other money savers include, instead of a pet kennel, asking your best friend or neighbor to watch your pet while you are away in return for something else – washing their car for a couple weeks, mowing their yard, or even cleaning their house. The service exchange possibilities are endless!
As pet owners, it is also important to practice good preventative care. Annual check-ups may run $100-$200 but staying on top vaccinations, and preventative medications for things like heartworm, fleas and ticks is priceless and saves your pet grief as they get older. Brush your pets teeth regularly – even though they may not like it. Animals can get gum disease just like us humans and that can lead to expensive dental procedures or even put your pet at risk for heart or kidney disease.
We all love animals in our own way but we must be sure we are prepared to take on the responsibility on all levels. Take plenty of time to make your decision – to be fair to you and your new furry friend.
Check out and print this Pet Budget Worksheet from our friends at the Texas Society of CPAs to help estimate pet ownership costs.
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