Many pet owners would agree that little compares to the joy and companionship pets provide. There’s the gregarious welcome from your dog when opening the door after a long day, that purr you hear when scratching your cat’s ear just right, and the unmistakable feeling of love that’s unconditional.
As fulfilling and fun having a pet can be, it can also get costly. Therefore, you’ll want to outline a realistic budget and add to your emergency savings account before bringing one home.
You can avoid getting caught off guard financially by familiarizing yourself with the common costs pet owners encounter — along with knowing some penny-saving strategies — so you can care for your pet responsibly.
Finding your four-legged friend.
Purchasing a dog from a breeder can cost thousands or more depending on the breed. Rescuing a pet from a shelter, on the other hand, may be a more affordable and compassionate choice. In fact, shelters typically offer steeply discounted adoption fees during spring and summer to ease overcrowding, with included immunizations, licensing, and spaying/neutering services.
Feeding your fur baby.
You’ll pay $120 - $500 per year on pet food depending on the type of food you choose as well as your pet’s individual size and dietary needs. Buying your food in bulk and having it auto-shipped to your home can save you a few dollars each month.
Maintaining their veterinary needs.
Routine check-ups and vaccines cost anywhere from $100-$350 during your pet’s first year and $80-$250 later on. The annual cost of flea, tick and heartworm prevention (which isn’t exactly optional in Central Florida’s climate) can be an additional $80-$330 annually.
There are emergency visits to the vet, too, and those have the potential to set you back hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Carrying pet insurance can help you offset these costs, but you’ll pay a monthly premium for that peace of mind.
Keeping them clean and groomed.
Cat and dog owners will, at a minimum, need to groom their pets by bathing them and trimming their nails. You can groom them yourself to save some time and money, or you can take your pet to a professional for about $10-$40 a visit. Also, some long-haired dog breeds require regular trips to the groomer for a trim, an expense that ranges greatly depending on your pet’s needs.
Teaching your pup manners.
If you’ve chosen to adopt a pup into your life, you’ll want to consider enrolling in an obedience school. They cost about $100-200. In doing so, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches — and chewed shoes — when it comes to the behavior of your new friend and learning how to effectively communicate with each other.
Bringing them with you wherever you move.
If you rent, most pet-friendly apartments and property managers require a pet deposit or fee, adding approximately $200-$500 to your moving costs. Plus, many rentals do not accept certain dog breeds or those exceeding weight limits, making it difficult to find a place to live if you have a large dog or one that falls on a list of aggressive breeds (whether or not your dog, in particular, is well-behaved).
Keeping your pet safe, comfortable and happy.
To keep your dog from destroying your stuff, you’ll want to keep them from being bored by giving them chew toys and having a collar and leash to take them for walks. After all, a happy, stimulated dog is (usually) a good dog. For cats, you may want to consider purchasing scratching posts and toys, too. These accessories can vary greatly in cost, depending on where you buy them.
At the end of the day, adopting a new pet is a big decision with many factors and costs to consider. If you truly desire interaction with four-legged creatures but know you’re not quite financially ready, there are ways to get your furry fix while making a positive impact, like volunteering to care for animals at a shelter or fostering pets waiting to find their forever home.