The Annual Costs of Owning a Furry Friend

Owning a pet has been found to have many benefits. Pet ownership can decrease depression, stress and anxiety. It can also contribute to lowering blood pressure, improve your immune system and reduce the risk or a stroke or heart attack.

In addition, pets are wonderful companions and provide a means for teaching many life lessons to children such as responsibility, caring for another living creature and compassion.

But all of this comes at a financial cost. Pet ownership carries a responsibility to care for all of a pet’s needs, some of which can be costly. Before deciding to get a pet, it is a good idea to investigate the cost of owning a pet and to be certain that you can meet the financial needs of a pet.

The Initial Investment

The most common household pets are cats and dogs. It is estimated that the first year of ownership for either of these animals will be in excess of $1,000. The first expense is for the animal itself. Even if you are planning on adopting your pet, there will still be fees that you will need to pay. If you are purchasing from a breeder or other source, then the cost will of course be much more than the adoption or rehoming fees.

Pure breed dogs can easily cost over $1,000 and cats can range from $300 to over $1,000 as well. The next cost is the vet bill to get your new pet checked out and be sure that he or she is healthy. If you have gotten a puppy or kitten, you will also need to pay for shots to ensure long term health.

Pets Need Things

With a new pet in the house, you will find that there are many items that you will need to purchase. Most owners will purchase food and water bowls, a collar of some type, a bed and toys just to get started. Smaller puppies and kittens will grow quickly and you will find that collars need to be replaced regularly in the first year of ownership.

And even if you have the best of intentions, pet shops always seem to display items that you didn’t think you needed until you saw them. Pet beds, fancy retracting leashes and cat condos are just a few of the items that could end up in your impulse shopping cart.

Add Pet Food to the Grocery Budget

In 2016, pet owners spent over 24 billion dollars on pet food alone. A very optimistic estimate reports that you can feed a dog for about $120 per year and a cat for around $145 per year. But that all depends on what you choose to feed them. If you have a pet with special dietary needs then the cost will be several times that estimate.

And if you are adding in the occasional treat then expect to spend at least an additional $50 a year. And again that is a very low estimate when you figure that is less than one bag of treats per month for a single animal. Pet owners love their furry friends and want to show them that and treats are a popular choice. So if you grab a $5 bag of treats each week then add in an additional $260 per year to your grocery budget.

Medical Care

Just like people, pets need to visit the doctor each year. In most cases it is just for a routine checkup and maybe a shot but that can add up too. Dogs seem to be more expensive at just over $200 a year while cats cost around $100 each year for vet services. In addition, many vets check the status of your pet’s license during their annual visit so be prepared to pay about another $20 a year for that. If your pet is young and healthy, you might not be considering pet health insurance but the cost of that is around $200 per year for both cats and dogs. It might not seem like a good investment until the first time you have to pay the cost of an emergency vet visit which can easily total well over $1,000.

Another Option to Insurance

Insurance on anything is something that you pay for but honestly hope that you never need to use. But when you do need it, it is great to be able to afford the service that you need. An alternative to continuing to pay a few hundred dollars a year for pet insurance is to create an emergency fund for pet issues. Over the course of five years, you would spend about $1,000 on insurance for your pet.

But you could also put that money into a savings account and in five years have that nice security fund in place. And hopefully you will never need to use the money for any issues concerning your pet’s health. But it does give you an option if the situation ever does arise.

Consider how you would feel if you learned that your pet needed care for a life-threatening health issue and you could not pay for the care. It is not fair to you or your pet. A savings fund would remove that tough decision and let you focus on getting your pet the care he or she needs, similar to getting car title loans without a job.

It’s more than Food and Water

Deciding to get a pet is about a lot more than just having the desire to have a furry friend. You are making a commitment of both your time and your money. A pet requires time and attention each day. They need affection and companionship as much as they need food.

In addition they need medical care on a regular basis to stay healthy and happy. Before you impulse buy that cute little furry puppy or kitten, stop and think about what you will need to do to provide that animal with a quality lifestyle, love and good health. Understand the cost of owning a pet before you commit to the responsibility of caring for another living creature.

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