Finding and welcoming your new family companion into your home is one of the most important decisions you will make. This is because many family pets are just that - family. For the next decade (or more) this new family member will be a big part of you and your family’s life. Before you decide on making this decision, however, you must consider the financial responsibilities that come with owning a pet.
Some financial responsibilities are obvious, and one of them is the purchasing fee. If you want to get a purebred, then obviously it is going to cost you. Purebred animals, such as puppies, can cost as much as thousands of dollars! Purchasing a rescue animal is going to be significantly less expensive, but it could still cost a few hundred dollars. A shelter animal is even more affordable. Either way, unless you receive your pet as a gift or find one that has been abandoned, the purchasing fee will be something you need to consider.
Pet supplies can be financed heavily or lightly. When you purchase the basics, money can be spent more wisely by you. There are even ways to purchase pet supplies, such as carriers, cages, and the “bigger” items at thrift stores or through yard sales. Taking advantage of donations from people who are willing to simply give you the items they no longer need is a smart idea as well. Consistently needed pet supplies that are consumable, such as food, litter, seed, bathing supplies, and more need to be considered a financial obligation for the long term with your new pet.
Routine and Necessary Veterinarian Visits
For many new pet owners, this is an obvious expense. However, it can be overlooked because it is more “down the road.” Getting a new pet will require that first vet visit, and if it is an animal that needs to be spayed or neutered, the beginning year or so can be costly. You may opt to rescue an animal, which may possibly save money on the spaying and neutering (many are already “fixed”) but they may have other expenses that are unseen. That first veterinarian visit may reveal something that needs treatment, such as worming or some other ailment. Either way, veterinarian bills can add up. Many vet bills must be paid when the appointment is scheduled.
In the future, your companion will require routine exams to stay ahead of any potential health problems. Vaccinations, heartworm medications, flea and tick treatments, and other preventative measures may not be economical. It's important to note that avoiding these things, specifically annual or semi-annual visits, because of the cost, over time, raises the risk of a veterinarian visit that could break the bank.
Pet Insurance and Payment for an Illness or Emergency
Have you ever had a pet, or know of someone who has had a pet, who all of a sudden was facing a medical emergency with their companion? Within a very short amount of time, and much of the time being totally unexpected, you could be faced with a veterinarian bill of thousands of dollars.
This is why some pet owners choose to pay a premium each month into a health insurance plan for their pet. There is a multitude of options for what you want to pay each month, what is specifically covered for treatment, and more. Researching pet insurance plans by reading online, in addition to asking your veterinarian and people you know will help you make the best decision in protecting your pet. Some of the downsides, though, are hard to overlook. These include some that do not cover chronic or previous ailments, half-covered costs or even denial altogether. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, is the monthly fee for pet health insurance better than just saving the money yourself? In some cases, a financing or one-time low APR loan may be a better option than the monthly fees involved in pet health insurance.
Living with your Animal
This may not seem like an obvious expense, and it may not be depending on your attitude toward your home and belongings. Purchasing a high caliber vacuum for pet hair may not be an absolute need for you and your family, but if you feel it is important, then that will be an added expense. This is just an example of financing your pet and thinking about what you may need in the home. Cleaning supplies, air purifiers, replacement furniture, fencing, gates, and more should be something you think about before getting your new pet.
If you plan on traveling, you may have the option of taking your pet with you. If not, you will need to find a reliable pet sitter or kennel, and this is certainly not low-cost. Some veterinarian offices have boarding services as well. If you are a family that travels often, think about if you will be able to take Fido along or if you will have to board him each time.
If you are lucky, you may have the most mannerly pet on the block. If you know how to train your pet, that is a plus as well! However, most often, the acquisition of a new furry addition to the family (especially a dog) involves teaching them commands for safety reasons, and to make them an adorable addition to the home.
Training is something that lasts over time; it cannot be done in just one or two sessions or classes. Consistency and patience are key. You may have to sign up for several levels of classes, so budget for that. Remember, training in a class is a great way to socialize your pet.
This is another area that may need to be budgeted for, but not an absolute necessity unless you get an animal that requires a professional for upkeep. Either way, grooming supplies, even used by you on your buddy will cost a little or a lot, depending on what they need. If you plan on taking your pet to a professional groomer once a month, that will be a monthly outflow of cash.
You may know of a professional groomer that has reasonable prices, or you may opt to take them to a veterinarian’s office or a pet supply store (some national chains have pet grooming on-site). Over time, it can get expensive, especially if they need other things done besides the typical shampoo, trim, and drying.
A pet is a very long-term commitment that takes dedication, love, responsibility, and money. Finances must be considered when thinking about a future animal in your life. If you feel you are unable to afford a pet at this time, there are options. You can volunteer at the local Humane Society (one day a week can make a difference in bonding with an animal!) or offer to pet sit or walk a friend’s animal while you are committing to save a little money aside for your next pet. It will be worth the wait; when you know you can afford it, you will have much more peace of mind!