Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Consider A Pet's Expenses

Tip #259 - Consider A Pet's Expenses. A pet can be a wonderful thing to have. Pets can give you companionship and unconditional love. They can help teach responsibility to children. They can provide company to the lonely. They can help boost people's mental health. They can bring families closer together. There is no denying the many benefits that pets can give to humans. But along with these benefits come costs - real financial costs.

Most pet owners would probably agree that they wouldn't live without their pet for anything, regardless of what they cost. And I understand that feeling. However, if you are not already a pet owner, you should carefully consider the costs of a pet before you get one. It's easy to be persuaded by a soft playful kitten or a loveable puppy, but make sure that you are aware of the realistic expense of owning a pet.

Startup Costs - If you don't already have a pet, there are several products you might need when you first get one. Obviously these items vary depending on the type of pet you get. You might need a gate (or more than one), a collar, a leash, an aquarium, special lights, a cage, a pet license, food containers, and travel containers. Your pet may also require professional training if he is a young puppy.

Food Costs
- This cost is a regular expense for a pet throughout his life. Nowadays, many veterinarians recommend costly pet food for the best nutrition for a pet. While deals can be found online or buying in big quantities, it is an expensive, regular cost.

Health Costs - Like people, animals have health needs. When young they may need to be spayed or neutered. They may need certain shots such as rabies and others. Dogs may need to be treated for heartworm or ticks on a regular basis. And they should have yearly veterinarian visits. In addition, they may have periodic health problems that will arise that will need to be addressed. Some find pet insurance to be worth the cost but that is another added expense.

Grooming Costs - Dogs may need regular grooming vists depending on if their fur sheds or not. Even if they don't need year-round visits, they may need haircuts in the summer depending on their coat. Dogs may need regular visits to get their nails trimmed or you may need to invest in a pet grooming kit yourself. While I know it's controversial, some people fully or partially declaw their cats. Pets often need their teeth cleaned.

Living Costs - If you are a renter, you may have a harder time finding a place to live if you have a pet - primarily a dog or a cat. This limitation can prevent you from finding an affordable place to live. If you rent in an apartment building that allows pets, there is often an extra deposit fee and many times a monthly pet charge, also. If you live in a house, you may have to invest in the cost of a fence. There may be cost of replacing carpet, sofas or other materials sooner than normal because of pet wear and tear. If you and your spouse work , you may need a pet walker to come in during the day.

Travel Costs - When acquiring a pet, you must figure in the cost of someone watching it for you while you travel. Kennel costs are upwards of $20 per day in many areas. Alternatively, you can bring pets to certain hotels, which often have an extra per night fee for a pet. You can also find local folks who will walk and watch your pat while you are away.

Non-necessities - There are little costs that may add up for pets. These are not necessities but many with pets choose to spend money on them, such as pet treats, rawhide bones, toys, catnip, pet beds, outside pet homes, dog bows/bandannas/clothing, and others.

I did not give associated costs for most of the above items because costs vary widely depending on size and type of pet and where you live. And again, I am not suggesting people should not get pets, but you should be realistic on the costs of having one. Talk to pet owners in your area to find out the price of vets and kennels. Ask those with a similar type of pet to the one you want how much they spend in food per month or regular health maintenance. Be realistic on how often you travel away from home and whether bringing your dog to grandma's is a possibility or if you need to board your pet each time you visit. If you are realistic with the pet costs, you will be a happier pet owner.

In Real Life (IRL) - It has been just over a year that we have been living without a pet. And while we miss having our dog to play with and love, I must say that I am not missing the expense that came along with her. We had a budget of $75 per month for our dog, which covered food and heartworm medicine plus a yearly vet bill. (This number may seem low as our dog was acutally on a cheaper brand dog food from before my husband knew better. The vet said that because she did fine with it that it wasn't necessary to change her diet to a more expensive food.)

Since the dog was my husband's when I met him, I don't know how much he paid for startup costs with the dog but he owned a pet bed, an outdoor igloo, a pet carrier, a gate, dog bowls, and a few other things. So, I am sure he easily spent several hundred dollars on those costs.

We had a few irregular or unexpected costs that came up periodically while we had the dog, like the time she had an abscessed tooth or the time we traveled to China for 18 days to adopt our daughter. And there was the time there was a fight between our dog and a neighbor's dog where we offered to pay for the other dog's vet bills. There was also the several-hundred dollar pet fee when we rented an apartment home. There was the medicine she went on for incontinence when she became elderly. And the cost of ridding our house of fleas one memorable (not!) summer.

At thie present time we have no plans to get a pet - not because of the expense - but because with three young children I don't want the extra resposibility that would fall mostly on my shoulders. I'm sure we will get another dog at some point, though, and we will make sure that we are realistic about the costs that will need to be added to our budget to get one. For other frugal ideas, check out Frugal Friday.


Anonymous said...

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Thanks, Tina

Jennifer said...

Pet care is more than just buying food for sure. WE just have a $1000 surgery on our dog. Painful! But we would never think not to do it.

Mom2fur said...

I would call you an animal lover, even though you don't currently have a pet. Why? Because you know what is fair to the animal. A puppy or kitten is like a new baby, and you already have human littles to care for. I have a feeling you'll have pets some time in the future, but now isn't the right time for you, or your pet.
I have a dog, two cats and one ferret. I would love to get a puppy, but right now (even though I don't have littles in the house--the human kind, I mean) is not a good time for a puppy. A kitten would be easier...but I think my big, old kitties would eat it for lunch.
BTW, there is one huge benefit to having pets--they keep you healthier! Unconditional love, a wagging tail and soft fur are really, really good therapy.