Owning a pet can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Pets selflessly give love and companionship, and they can even improve your health; in some cases they can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress. Yet while they ask little in return beyond food, shelter and your heart, pets come with costs.
If you’ve decided to take on a pet, you’re probably already aware of basic costs like food, vaccinations and annual health checkups. But do you know just how much those expenses will add up to every year? Every month? Not knowing could lead to some unpleasant financial surprises.
For example, if you’ve budgeted $15 a month for dog food, it may be enough if you have a small pooch that doesn’t require any kind of special diet. However, if you have a large dog that eats more or a dog with health concerns that mean she has to eat a special type or brand of food, your monthly pet food expenses can soar.
Perhaps you’ve set aside $1,000 a year to pay for medical care. As long as your pet remains in good health, that sum may be sufficient. Just like human health care costs though, animal medical care can get expensive and just one hospitalization can eat through a modest budget.
You can find a great breakdown of pet care costs at www.aspca.org, the website of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. According to the ASPCA, owners of a small dog may shell out more than $1,300 for everything from food and medical care to a carrier, collar and leash in the first year of ownership. First-year costs for a large dog can approach $2,000. Even a fish comes with maintenance costs – more than $200 a year, the ASPCA estimates.
In some ways, taking on a pet is like any financial investment you make; you need to thoroughly research associated costs before you make the investment and budget accordingly to meet those costs.
Finally, before you buy a pet, consider the cost of the animal itself. Some people pay thousands of dollars—and go into debt—to buy the latest “designer dog.” However, for much less money, a mutt from the shelter will be just as much an expert at giving love and companionship as any other dog. Before you spend a bundle on the must-have breed of the moment, ask yourself if your new best friend would really want you to go into debt for him.