Are You Financially Ready for a Pet?

If you are interested in a getting a pet, you may have thought about time commitment involved, but have you considered the financial aspect? Giving up a pet is stressful for both the owner and the animal, so it is best to consider if you are financially ready for a furry (or scaly) creature before you bring it into your home.

Typical costs associated with pet ownership include:

  • Cost of the pet itself: How much it costs you to obtain a pet will depend on the type of pet and where you get it. You may be able to find people giving away their pet for free on Craigslist or other sites, but be careful – some owners may not be upfront about medical or behavioral issues. Animal shelters and rescue groups typically charge around $50-$200 and spay/neuter and vaccinate the animals before adoption. (Some even microchip them.) Breeders and pet stores tend to charge the most. While there are many reputable breeders who breed carefully and selectively, others are just looking for a quick buck, and the animals they sell often develop severe health problems.
  • Food: High-quality food can be pricey. Sure, there is cheaper stuff in the supermarket, but it may be worse for pets’ health, resulting in higher vet bills.
  • Supplies: Every pet requires at least some supplies. For a dog, you will want to get at least a leash, dog bed, collar, bowls, brush, and crate (if you are crate training). For a cat, you should buy a collar, cat tree/scratching post, litter box, litter, bowls, and a carrier. You will probably want to get some toys as well (and – be honest – perhaps even a cute outfit or two).
  • Veterinary care: Medical costs can be significant even if your pet is healthy. Most pets should be vaccinated and get an annual check-up. (You may be tempted to skip this, but catching medical problems early can save you money in the long run – and save your pet’s life.) Cats and dogs typically need to be treated regularly with flea medication and may also need heartworm medication. If your pet does gets sick, medical care may cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Having pet health insurance can keep your medical costs from skyrocketing, but the coverage is often limited.
  • Walking/babysitting/boarding: If you are getting a dog and are going to be gone most of the day, you may need to hire a dog walker. For any pet, you may need to hire a babysitter or pay for boarding when you go on vacation.
  • Grooming: Many pets have minimal grooming needs. But for certain breeds, such as poodles, you may need to buy grooming supplies or go to a professional groomer.