While bringing a pet into your home is most definitely a emotional decision, it is also a financial decision. Knowing the costs of caring for a pet are important for budgeting and preventing potential financial predicaments. Unfortunately, the costs of a pet, especially over the course of a year, are difficult to determine.
Throughout my time spent at the veterinary hospital, it became clear that few people budgeted for their pet’s costs. As a result, the veterinary staff would often get an ear full when we suggested treatment for a sick pet. However, when someone had budgeted for their pet’s expenses, the conversations were stress-free and we were able to provide the optimal treatment.
But how can you possibly prepare yourself for the financial surprises associated with pet parenthood? First, you need to completely understand the costs associated with a pet. Then, you need to analyze the variables of those costs based on the breed and size of the pet you are adopting. And lastly, you need to financial prepare.
Costs Associated with Pet Parenthood
In my experience, pets will cost the most in their puppy years, and in their senior years.
The Simple Dollar breaks down the costs of pets into a few specific categories. Each of these is dependent upon the size, breed, and age of your dog at the time of the adoption.
- Acquisition Costs: For example, when we adopted Rooney, his adoption was $200. But as soon as we adopted him we spent another $100-$200 buying supplies.
- Medical Costs: Throughout Rooney’s time with us, we have paid for the following treatments; slipped-disc, atopy, ear infections and an allergic reaction to a spider.
- Routine Medical Costs: This category includes vaccines, flea and tick medication, heartworm preventative, dental care, and spay or neuter costs. For Rooney, we probably spend about $200-300 per year on preventative medicine as of now. However, I anticipate this cost going up as Rooney ages and needs more dental care.
- Grooming Costs: Rooney doesn’t need regular professional grooming, which is great! But, we did get a FURminator to properly groom his undercoat, and Rooney gets soothing shampoos and conditioners due to his sensitive skin and allergies.
- Food Costs: Rooney eats premium Petcurean dog food, but he doesn’t each much because he is only 30 lbs. If a Lab were to eat the same food Rooney does, the annual cost would be much higher.
- Equipment Costs: While we immediately knew what to buy Rooney when we adopted him, we have invested in a few other items over the years. For example a new crate, a car seat cover, and a set of stairs.
- Training Costs: Many people think that training is only for puppies. However, training is a great way to build a strong relationship with your pet AND is excellent mental stimulation for a smart breed like a Corgi.
One category that is a cost for us is daycare. My husband and I both work full-time and since Rooney is a herding breed, he needs above-average exercise during the week.
How to Financially Prepare – Pet Cost Calculator
Some people might be thinking to themselves,”I will always be surprised by emergencies, so why should I consider a budget in the first place”. If this is your line of thinking, I would argue that budgeting for the above costs associated with your pet will help you better prepare for emergencies. Additionally, there are options that you can invest in as part of your budget that can help mitigate surprises.
My husband and I signed Rooney up for Trupanion the moment we adopted him. Pet insurance saved us money when Rooney suddenly slipped a disc in his back and for his yearly allergy treatments.
Pet Savings Account
If you choose not to protect your dog with pet insurance, I highly recommend you at least put away a little money each month into a savings account for your pet.
Adopt Don’t Shop
When puppies and kittens get sick and their parents have just spent $5,000 purchasing them, they were often upset to find out they needed to pay for treatment (plus vaccines and a spay/neuter). However, if you adopt a dog or cat (especially one that is over 1 year old), the costs of a spay/neuter and vaccines will often be included in their adoption fee, which in my experience has been anywhere from $100-$300.
Can you afford a pet?
I can’t tell you how much I wish everyone considered the costs of their pets outside of the initial purchase. Because I have seen so many pets re-homed due to finances. If you or a friend are considering bringing a new pet into your home, please use the Pet Cost Calculator to financially prepare.