When you see a cute little puppy or tiny kitten, it’s so easy to get swayed into becoming a pet owner. After all, what’s not to love? Pets are loyal, are sweet, and can give you great company. Of course, people who have their own pets will be the first to tell you that owning one is a very big decision. Pet ownership has great perks but it is a big step, and you have to be emotionally and financially ready for it.
When I rescued my dog, Julep, I was so excited. I had wanted my own dog for as long as I could remember and couldn’t wait to get one. I looked for a rescue dog for a long time, and as soon as I saw her, I knew she would be mine. She was the tiniest puppy in her litter and was neglected. I found her in what was obviously a puppy mill and was determined to save her.
As a recent college graduate, I had no clue what a dog would cost (it’s amazing how much I’ve learned in 4 years of reading and writing about personal finance!). As I mentioned, she was pretty sick, so it cost me a few hundred dollars in vet bills to get her back in good health. In addition, there was the cost of vaccinations and spaying.
Now, I’m happy to report that she’s a very, very healthy girl. She went from being the runt of her litter to an absolutely spoiled princess dog. If you are thinking about getting a new pet, below are several factors to consider before becoming a pet owner. These considerations are each important, but are also marginal when compared to the joy of owning a pet.
Standard Treats: $2.00
Intermediate Treats: $10.00
Treats are a necessary part of having a pet. They are great when you are training your new friend and are perfect when you want to give them a little sweet reward. There are many different kinds of treats that you can get, so try a few at first to see which one your pet prefers.
Standard Pet Bed: $17.00
Intermediate Pet Bed: $56.00
Luxurious Pet Bed: $83.00
Most animals will need a cozy place to sleep that’s all their own. Dogs probably want their own dog beds, and cats would probably appreciate a nice pillow!
Bowls for Food & Water ($7.00-$53.00)
Standard Bowl: $7.00
Intermediate Bowl: $32.00
Luxurious Bowl: $53.00
You’d be surprised at how much pet bowls cost, especially if they are raised off the floor or are electronic machines.
Standard Vacuum: $48.00
Intermediate Vacuum: $160.00
Luxurious Vacuum: $480.00
If there’s one thing most pet owners can agree on, it’s that pets definitely shed (even if they are short haired!). It’s very possible that you will have to purchase both a good vacuum cleaner and pet brushes to keep the shedding at bay.
Pet Health & Care:
Above, we discussed all of the different accessories and add-ons that you can purchase for your pet. Below are the costs that will vary by region. For example, your sister might watch your pet for free, while a kennel might charge you $300 for the weekend. Be sure to check with your veterinarian on costs like emergency appointments, microchips, spaying or neutering, and monthly heart worm medications as these will all fluctuate depending on where you live. However, ballpark estimates are included below.
Pet Sitters/Pet Walkers ($30.00-$300.00)
It’s imperative to find someone who will take good care of your pet while you are at work or on vacation.
These days, you can pay to have a small microchip implanted in your pet so that you can always find them if they get lost. Be sure to talk to your vet about this as there are certain medical risks involved.
While I hope it never happens, you have to be prepared for a pet emergency. For example, if your pet accidentally swallows something and needs emergency surgery, it’s important that you have the funds to pay for it.
Monthly Heartworm & Flea Medication ($20.00-$50.00)
To keep your pet healthy, it’s smart to invest in monthly heartworm and flea treatments.
Overall, the average cost of owning a pet including their introductory vaccinations, food, accessories, long term medical care, and emergencies will be anywhere between $1,000 – $6,000 over the course of your pet’s lifetime. The cost of owning some pets might be lower than that, while the cost for others might be much higher, especially if the pet becomes ill towards the end of its life.
However, when you spread out this cost over a period of 8-15 years, it’s actually quite minimal. My dog, for example, has only been sick once in four years, and her yearly vet checkups and food are very affordable. Plus, I truly could not imagine my life without my dog. She’s been with me through several ups and downs and has moved with me literally all over the world. I wouldn’t trade her for anything and know she’s worth every penny I’ve ever spent on her.
How much do you usually spend on your pet per year? Do you have a favorite product or toy that your pet loves?