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Pets take a bite out of your wallet

Pets take a bite out of your wallet

If you’re considering adopting a pet, you should be aware of the expenses that will come your way as a responsible owner. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, pet spending is at an all-time high. The survey says that the “current basic annual expenses” total $1571 for dogs and $948 for cats. That breaks down to approximately $131 per month for dogs and $79 for cats. If you have a dog & two cats, that’s a car payment. If your dog lives for 10 years, that’s $15,710. Cats typically live at least 15 years, bringing their total to $14,220.

Those numbers include surgical vet visits, routine vet visits, food, kennel/boarding, grooming, vitamins, treats, and toys. I noticed that they don’t include the costs of the pets themselves or the costs of “start up” supplies like crates, leashes, litter boxes & bowls. Probably most significantly, they don’t include the cost of replacing, repairing or cleaning any items that your pets might destroy or damage. My own total would skyrocket if I included those kinds of things. And you do need to include those items, unless you’re happy living with a leather couch that you can’t get the smell of urine out of, don’t mind if your curtains are in a shambles, and have no problems with the occasional uprooted plant. I bet I’ve spent an average of $1000 a year on those kinds of things, which would add another $83 per month to the total. Plus, some insurance companies charge extra if you own a pet, because they represent an increased liability. (What if Fido bites the mailman? What if Fluffy gets out and claws the neighbour’s toddler that just squeezed her too hard?) Don’t forget that you will need to spend some money on pet insurance as well. Fortunately, there are many affordable options, such as Bivvy pet insurance.

This is probably going to be an unpopular thing to say, but if you’re in debt or on a very tight budget and longing for a pet, don’t get one. Volunteer your time at the local animal shelter instead. Yes, there are millions of pets out there that deserve a loving home, but they also deserve a home that can put the needed time, energy, and money into taking care of them. Pets can’t live on love alone. Especially beware the “free” kitten or puppy, who often wind up being the most expensive pets of all. At the minimum, you’re unlikely to consider the actual expenses involved when presented with a “free” pet. (Remember, cats and dogs can live anywhere from 7-22 years — sometimes longer.) Worse, many of those cute little puppies & kittens don’t have all of their shots, leaving them vulnerable to diseases that are expensive to treat and still often fatal. If you do decide on a pet, be sure you’ve done your research and truly understand the financial and time commitment required for their well-being.

View Comments (6)
  • I’m glad you mentioned the “forgotten” costs of replacing damaged items (replacing the carpet is our dilemma at the moment). Also, if you’re considering selling your home, some potential buyers won’t consider purchasing a home that housed pets. Though we love our Dachshund like he’s one of the family, if something were to happen to him, my husband and I already know that we won’t replace him. I like your idea of volunteering at an animal shelter. That’s a wonderful way to help!

  • To be honest with you, using that calculator I would be spending $5661 per year on my pets (3 dogs and one cat)….There is no way I spend that kindof money on them. That’s what $472 per month…

    While I agree if you can’t afford them don’t get them.

    I think those figures are inflated. For instance when I go on vacation I *could* put my dogs in a kennel–averaging $22-$25 per day per pet, plus the cat—-or I can have a woman come to my home and walk the dogs, feed them and play with them, for $22 a day for all four of them.

    There are cost savings ways of having pets.

    Shots–there are clinics in my area that have days where they are at a very reduced price.

    My pets are a big part of my family, and are family to me.

    They bring me much joy. Much more so than spending the money on say, seeing a movie, going out to eat, etc.

  • I’d be willing to bet that the figures aren’t so much inflated as they are somewhat misleading. Because they are averages, there could be someone out there spending a large fortune on their pets (I wonder how much Paris Hilton spends on her dog?) and then there’s other other end of the spectrum where people are careful about what they spend. That combination would make the average…well, average. I actually do have a post planned about ways to save money on pets.

    As a side note, we got 2 of our pets from the animal shelter, and they didn’t have their shots and weren’t spayed. We did have to sign a contract agreeing to do so, but I don’t think they would have come to our house and taken away the pets if we hadn’t. (We did.) And we had to pay for those services ourselves, in addition to the adoption fee. But I was mainly talking about the “free kitten” signs you see at grocery stores, etc.

    I’d love to have someone come to our house when we go on vacation and take of the dog & cats, but there just isn’t anyone that I know that both would be available for extended periods and wouldn’t be intimidated by our 85 lb dog.

  • You are right about the average…One of my coworkers has a dog…She gave her dog swim therapy twice a week for three months…she has a dog walker come to her house three times a week to walk the dog, for exercise and socilaization…and is considering doggie daycare.

    Just a different mindset.

    I love my dogs, but I think all of that is just silly.

  • You could also consider adopting an older animal. Most older animals are already housebroken and have their shredding/scratching on furniture days behind them.

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