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Know the Costs of Owning a Pet Before Bringing Fido Home


costs-of-a-new-petPerhaps you are contemplating expanding your family by four paws and a tail. Taking a moment to consider the expenses of owning a pet can help you decide what type of animal is in your budget, and if you are truly ready to become a fur-parent. Just as mom and dad told you as a child, "Owning a pet is a big responsibility!"

As a pet owner, you have to ensure your pet has adequate living quarters, fun things to do, and proper medical care. Aside from the upfront expense of actually purchasing a pet, the accessories and additional expenses can quickly overwhelm even the cushiest of budgets. Read on for various expenses to consider, along with ways to potentially save on your pet purchases. 

Pet purchasing

Pets come in all shapes, sizes, levels of need, and prices. Perhaps the first expense to truly consider is how much will purchasing your pet actually cost? Many people set their sights on pure-bred puppies but a papered pooch can come with a pretty hefty price-tag. According to a 2012 Forbes article, the author Allen St. John spent $1,200 on his golden retriever but saw prices from $500 all the way to $3,000. St. John also pointed out that the high price tag does not guarantee that the breeder is reputable or even legitimate. Even show-quality cats can range from $500 to $1,000.

If these prices are definitely out of your budget, always consider a visit to a local animal shelter. Most shelters charge fees from $30 to $100, which usually includes primary shots, a physical exam, and a microchip.

Pet security deposits at your home

Homeowners, for the most part, can have whomever or whatever they want living in their home with the exception of certain neighborhood, condominium, or city regulations.  Renters, however, must consider the rules of their lease agreement. Tenants are usually limited in the species, breed, and number of pets they can have living in their space, and it is becoming the norm to see per-pet deposits, along with an additional monthly pet fee added to rent. A pet deposit will usually cost between $250 and $500, of which half is normally returned at move-out (unless Fluffy is a feline destructo).

Food & treats

Adding another living creature to your home means they are going to have to eat as well. Large dogs can easily go through a 30-pound bag of kibble in two weeks. Smaller animals will only cost you a few dollars a month, but pets with a special diet can run between $50 to $100 a month. And, don’t forget to treat your pet every now-and-then because a few bucks can go a long way in your pet’s happiness.

Toys

Along with treats, toys are an important aspect of your pet’s mental and physical health. Additionally, an entertained pet is less likely to destroy items in your home that aren’t meant to be chewed or scratched up. It's also very important to purchase toys that are meant for your pet because other toys may be toxic to a furry friend and could result in additional emergency veterinary expenses. Accidental ingestion of foreign objects such as toys is one of the top reasons for veterinary surgery and can result in bills between $1,800 and $3,500.   

Bedding/dog houses/kennels

Regardless of your pet’s sleeping quarters, at the bare minimum, they will need a clean, dry place to lay their head. Outside pets need some form of cover from the elements like a dog house. Indoors, many animals will lay on whatever is soft and comfy, so if you aren’t looking to start a new cat-hair collection on your sofa, a pet bed may be in your best interest. Additionally, pets may need either a crate to contain them while you cannot supervise or a pet door so they can relieve themselves when you are not there to walk them.

Medical

Just as you would take your human children to the doctor for regular check-ups or illness, your pet will also need to visit a primary care veterinarian, at least once a year. Spaying or neutering, shots, and annual check-ups can rack up to nearly $200 a year. In the case of a medical emergency, the exam alone can cost $100 and any immediate life saving measures can quickly stack up.

Additionally, pure-bred pets have a propensity for medical issues and considering the initial cost of buying a pure-bred puppy or kitten, being financially prepared for potential issues is advisable.

Pet health insurance is available to help reduce the financial impact of veterinary care and can include both preventative coverage and emergencies. Rates vary depending upon species, breed, type of coverage, and amount of deductible. If you have ever had an emergency situation or an illness, you know the value of a monthly pet insurance premium versus the lump-sum veterinary bill. In the event of a large veterinary expense, you would be required to pay your bill upfront and then submit the receipt to your pet insurance provider. According to your coverage, the provider will reimburse you for allowed expenses above and beyond your deductible.  

The expense of owning a pet can be overwhelming if you are not prepared. A responsible pet owner must consider not only the monetary expense, but also the time commitment a pet requires. The majority of pet owners will attest to the fact that pets provide a value to your life that can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

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