Plenty of evidence shows that owning a pet can be a positive experience for many people. Decreased levels of stress, management of depression symptoms, and even lower blood pressure1 can be results from time spent with an animal. But there are plenty of costs associated with pet ownership too, and they can often be higher than anticipated. A study by Country Financial found that 43 percent of dog or cat owners spent more to care for their pet2 than they expected. A third reported spending more than $1,000 in the last year to pay for costs related to the pet. To ensure the furriest member of your family is happy and healthy, it’s important to plan and prioritize to ensure you have enough saved, no matter what happens.
All Pets Are Different
While cats and dogs are the two most common pets, there are a variety of animals that make great companions. It is important to recognize, though, that different breeds and different animals entail different costs. The ASPCA has compiled a chart listing the average first year cost of various sized dogs, cats and a other common pets. Taking into account adoption fees, spaying/neutering, equipment, and other recurring costs, the first year of ownership is often the most expensive. However, as the ASPCA explains, “you shouldn’t expect to pay less than this, but you should definitely be prepared to pay more.”
Start Saving Now
Once you have a rough idea of a budget, you should begin saving for unexpected and emergency costs as soon as you can. According to Consumer Reports, the average cost for dog surgery3 is $532, and for cats it is $278. These costs could easily be more for different problems and diagnostics tests needed to identify the issue. Use this, typical costs for food, and other routine costs as a benchmark of how much to save, but be aware that it can often cost more. Pet insurance has become popular as pet care becomes more expensive, but take into consideration that most plans do not pay enough to cover the monthly fee.
Take Advantage of Discounts
If you find yourself having trouble affording your pet’s medical bills or regular expenses, there are many ways to get help or reduce costs. The Humane Society details a number of options available to struggling pet owners. Among these are free or reduced-cost spay and neuter programs and programs that offer assistance for all medical expenses. One useful tip: Don’t be afraid to negotiate costs with the vet. Some will negotiate payment plans, or even accept volunteer work as compensation. You never know what you may get just for simply asking.
Owning any pet is a major commitment that takes careful planning and strict saving. Of course, it also comes with some great benefits. If you are still considering getting a pet, take a careful look at your finances before making a move. You and your pet will both thank you for it.
The views expressed by the articles and sites linked in this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions and policies of Cash Central or Community Choice Financial®.
1Allen, Karen, Izzo, Joseph, and Shykoff, Barbara. (2018, Apr 1). Retrieved from: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/hyp.38.4.815
2Fisher Edelman, Jordan. (2015, Aug 25). Retrieved from: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/americans-love-their-petsbut-not-the-costs-that-come-with-them-300132554.html
3Walker, Mandy. (2016, Mar 30). Retrieved from: https://www.consumerreports.org/money/is-pet-insurance-worth-cost-a8623525303/