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The Financial Considerations of Owning a Pet

Updated on February 20, 2009

 I grew up with pets always in the home so I never thought twice about getting a pet when I first moved out on my own. It was just a given that a couple of the dogs would go with me when I moved. They were great company and I was happy to have them but I immediately began to realize that owning a pet is quite an expensive thing! I didn’t realize that the combination of daily expenses and emergency expenses involved in owning a pet could end up costing me so much financially.

Don’t get me wrong – I think that my pets over the years have been well worth the money that I’ve spent on them. But in this era of a rough economy, I would definitely recommend thinking seriously about the financial ramifications of getting a new pet if indeed you’re thinking about adding another animal to your home.

Here are some of the financial demands that a pet might place on you:

• The cost of getting the pet. The first cost that you are going to encounter when getting a new pet is the cost pf purchase. Some people are able to get their pets for free but many people pay prices small and large to get the pet that they want.

• Pet food. The single biggest regular and ongoing expense that you’re going to have with a pet is the cost of feeding your pet. Most pets needs to be fed every day. The cost of pet food isn’t cheap. And you should know that sometimes you get what you pay for. In other words, you may find that your pet can’t handle the generic brand of food and that you have to spend additional money to cater to the special diet that a pet needs in order to keep your pet healthy. When choosing a new pet, you should take into consideration the amount of food that the animal is likely to consume, any special dietary needs that it has and approximately what it’s going to cost to feed your pet each month.

• Medical expenses. There are a variety of different veterinary expenses that you are going to have whenever you have a pet although these vary depending upon the type of pet that you have. Some pets don’t need to see a vet unless an emergency comes up. Other pets, particularly dogs, will need to set a vet regularly for shots and the kind of check-up things that we do ourselves as humans.

You should realize that you will have ongoing medical expenses with dogs and cats. In some extreme cases, you may have serious ongoing medical expenses to deal with. Pets can get diseases like diabetes, cancer and kidney failure that require costly medication. There are also costly one-time procedures that pets commonly need such as getting spayed or neutered.

You should also be prepared for the emergency expenses that come up with an animal. Accidents happen. Pets get hit by cars, stepped on by kids and sometimes they just get sick. You need to be able to put some money away in savings to deal with medical pet emergencies because there’s a good chance you’ll have at least one emergency to deal with during your pet’s life.

• Pet toys and accessories. Many people spend extra money on their pets to get them tools to entertain them. Chew toys for dogs, wheels for hamsters, decorative toys for fish and catnip for kittens are all things that you might purchase for allowing your pet to enjoy life more. And they’re all things that cost money.

• Daily pet needs. There are some things that your pet does on a daily basis that require you to spend a bit of money. For example, dogs need to be walked daily so you’re going to need to buy a leash. Different types of pets may also need aquariums or terrariums, certain types of lighting, pet beds or other daily care needs.

• Grooming costs. Some animals require the cost of grooming care. This may be a large expense such as taking the dog to the groomer once a month or it may be a smaller expense like purchasing pet hair wash and grooming brushes. Either way, it’s a financial demand to take into consideration when getting a pet.

• Service providers for your pet. Grooming services are not the only services that you may need for your pet. You may need a dog walking service, a service that comes to feed your cat while you’re on vacation, a kennel or pet hotel for the dog during the times that you’re not around or an on-call pet sitter available in case of emergencies. The cost of these things varies depending on the pet, the service and the area where you live but none of these things is cheap.

• Pet insurance. Some people make additional investments in insurance for their pets including types of pet life insurance pet medical insurance. Dogs, cats, birds and even reptiles can be insured.

• Pet fines. Unfortunately having a pet means that you run the risk of your pet doing something that will cause you to get charged a fine. If your animal gets out of the house and picked up by the local pound, you’ll have to pay to get it back – with extra fees if it’s not spayed or neutered. If your pet harms someone or causes a disturbance in the neighborhood, you may get fined. Consider this when choosing a pet.

• Other finances impacted by pets. Finally pets may cause problems that impact you financially in tangential ways. For example, it is often difficult to find a good apartment to rent if you have a big dog. You may end up paying additional pet deposit fees or living in a more expensive apartment to accommodate your pet.

As you can see, there are a lot of financial demands that a pet may place on you. The love and companionship that you get in return probably doesn’t have a price on it but you should still think about the cost of getting a pet before you go ahead and make that investment.


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