Understanding the True Cost of Becoming a Pet Parent

There is nothing that compares to the bond between you and your pet. As the Animal Rescue Foundation puts it, “Who Rescued Who?"

Deciding to own a pet should not be taken lightly as it comes with real costs.  According to a report from the UK-based People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, people underestimate the actual cost of pet ownership by a whopping seven times. Owning a cat, dog or other animal has to be like any expense you work into your monthly budget. Plus, pet parents need to be prepared for unexpected or hidden costs as well.

 

Just how expensive is pet ownership?

Without considering unexpected vet visits, the likely cost of owning a dog through its lifetime is between $27,074 to $42,545, as calculated by the PDSA. This figure includes expenses related to acquisition, spaying or neutering, vaccinations, as well as ongoing costs of food, toys, and grooming.

The costs of a cat appear to be slightly less, though more expensive than most people expect. The same expenses over a cat’s lifetime, as well as the added cost of cat litter, fall in the range of $21,917 to $30,942. Even owning a rabbit can be expensive, with total expenses likely to top $12,893.

Compare that to the average cost of $34,000 to own a brand-new car in 2019. Acquiring and maintaining a pure-bred dog over its lifetime, for example, can be the equivalent of purchasing two to three new vehicles.

 

Infographic Showing True Cost of Pet Over A Lifetime

 

Should I adopt or purchase?

One of the first major expenses of pet ownership is the adoption or purchase price. The purchase price listed from a breeder is influenced by market supply and demand. Depending on the breed, the sticker price can run you into the thousands of dollars.

Reputable breeders will charge fair and competitive prices, while backyard breeders will list higher than average prices to earn a profit. Do your research to avoid purchasing from backyard breeders and other “puppy mills.” PAWS provides a useful guide for identifying red flags and what steps to take to avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills.

Adoption costs, on the other hand, typically cover a variety of the initial expenses of pet ownership. Many shelters and rescues will microchip animals, provide medical and heartworm care, and in some cases even spay and neuter animals before you purchase. The total cost for all this care can be upwards of $800, but as non-profit organizations, shelters rarely ask for this much.

 

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What are the hidden costs of pet ownership?

Unexpected veterinarian costs are the most difficult to plan for. If your pet is in an accident or is struck with an illness, a visit to the vet can leave you with a large bill to pay.

Kiplinger recently published an article on this topic with a suggestion to create an emergency fund for these occasions: “Owners will likely incur at least one $2,000 – $4,000 bill for emergency care at some point during their pet’s lifetime”, says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, in New York City.

Another solution is to purchase health insurance for your pet. With premiums averaging around $25 a month, buying pet insurance coverage to protect against the cost of accidents or emergency surgeries can be a safeguard for your budget.

 

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How do I know if I can afford to own a pet?

Follow the steps below as a guide to make sure you can afford to take home a new pet:

1. Figure out how average monthly expenses will impact your budget.

Is there something in your budget you can cut back on to make a pet more affordable? Perhaps an entertainment or shopping expense? Ask yourself, is owning a pet at this time worth the financial sacrifice?  

2. Plan to set aside between $1,000 and $2,000 in an emergency fund for unexpected vet bills.

Remember, throughout a pet’s lifetime you will encounter at least one unexpected vet bill. It’s better to plan ahead than to be caught off guard when the moment arrives. You don’t want to find yourself in the position of deciding between your pets’ life and paying next months' rent.

3. Look into pet insurance options and costs.

Adding another monthly cost to your budget may seem like a painful idea, but insurance serves a legitimate and useful purpose…peace of mind. Remember, pet ownership is a responsibility, and your pet is counting on you to take care of it. If you’re not ready for that responsibility – both financially and emotionally – then pet ownership is not the right choice for you at this time.

Pets can be an enjoyable and fulfilling part of our lives, but they can also create sudden and unexpected financial hardships. If you find yourself unprepared for an emergency pet expense, Credit Direct can help you through it with fast approvals and funding on a personal loan.

 

 

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