The Real Cost of Owning A Pet

Previously on this blog, we have reviewed several topics relating to the joins and pains of pet ownership. We have reviewed the decision points around if you need to purchase pet insurance, helping out with dog fostering as a low cost alternative to pet ownership, and looked at the costs of different pet products.

Continuing on the topic of pet ownership is today’s guest posting from Alban. Alban is a personal finance writer at Home Loan Finder, where he helps people to compare home loans online.  Enjoy!

  The Real Cost of Owning a Pet 
Owning a pet can be a very rewarding experience, and it has been found that children who grow up with a cat or a dog have less chance of developing allergies, not to mention you can teach your children about the responsibility of caring for another creature.

Whether you couldn’t picture your life without a pet, or your kids are pestering you for a pet and you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, you need to be sure you are aware of the true cost of owning a pet before you take on what can be a significant financial responsibility.

Typical Costs of Pet Ownership 

The first year of pet ownership can be one of the most expensive as there can be a lot of accessories to buy and changes to be made to your home, and following are some typical yearly costs you should budget for when considering pet ownership – of course pets, just like us, can cost more in medical expenses for example as they get older.

As you budget for your new pet, don’t forget costs such as:

  • The purchase. You may be lucky enough to be given a pet or pick one up from a shelter but for more unusual or specific pets you will have to buy them.
  • Registration. Dogs and cats in particular must be registered with your local council, often from they are 12 months old, and the registration must be renewed each year.
  • De-sexing. De-sexing your pets can get more expensive as they get older so it is best to organize this as soon as possible for their comfort, their health and the safety of other pets and animals in your area.
  • Micro chipping. This is a security and safety measure you can follow for your peace of mind and is a one off cost to implant a microchip into your pet. If you pet is found, a vet can check for a microchip, which holds all of your contact information.
  • A home or bedding. Depending on the type of pet you choose you’ll need either a cage, a kennel or some sort of bedding to give your pet a place to call their own. You may also need to furnish your pet’s home with toys and accessories.
  • Vet bills. When you first buy a young pet, there will likely be a course of vaccinations required. You will then need to revisit the vet once a year for your pet’s regular shots. Vet bills may also include emergency costs if your pet is sick or injured.
  • Food. Make sure you know about any special dietary requirements of your pet and budget for enough food for a growing young pet, and an increased cost as your pet is fully grown and even hungrier.
  • Costs of medicines. Your pet may have special medical requirements or dietary requirements which need to be met, and you will also have to budget for the costs of regular worming and flea treatments for a furry pet.
  • Pet boarding. If you and your family go on holiday and you can’t take your pet, you will need to pay for boarding or a house sitter to look after your pet.
  • Pet insurance. To help you with all of these pet costs you can take out pet insurance which can pay a portion of each vet visit, cover emergency costs and even pay for some pet boarding each year.
  • Your choice of home. it can often be harder to find a home if you have a pet, especially as very few rental properties will allow you to have a pet. Even if you own your own home, if you have a big outdoor pet, you need a big outdoor space. 

The Costs for Different Types of Pets 

The costs of pet ownership will differ vastly depending on your choice of pet, for example:

  • To own some types of cats and reptiles you may need to buy an exotic pet license. However, check the rules relating to your area, as they differ from state to state.
  • You may need to modify your yard to include a cat run to protect local wildlife, or upgrade fencing if you buy a large dog.
  • If you choose a fish or other scaly pet, you may see increased power costs as you need to heat their tank or habitat.
  • Your home maintenance needs can change if you own a pet and you may need to have your carpets cleaned more regularly to remove muddy paw prints, or pay for repairs to furniture or windows done by claws.
  • Training is an important cost if you choose a dog as training your pup from a young age will ensure good behaviour for life, and avoid social issues down the track.
  • Transporting your pet can mean the need for more accessories such as a cat cage or a dog harness. 

How to Minimize the Costs of Pet Ownership

While there can be significant initial and ongoing costs associated with pet ownership, you can plan for them. For example, now that you know the costs you can expect, calculate the cost of pet ownership for your choice of pet and put aside those costs for a year to save up. If you find you have the room in your budget, you then have a head start on some of the purchase and set up costs.

Also, consider the savings and the value of having a pet. A dog for example can save you on gym fees if you take him for regular walks, and save you on after school activities if your children take the dog to the park or the beach. Owning and caring for any sort of pet will teach your children responsibility and accountability more comprehensively than earning any Scouts badge could.

To save on some of the costs of pet ownership:

  • Don’t buy the pet. Before you head to the pet shop, check out your local animal shelters, they often have a range of pets too, not just cats and dogs. Pets from an animal shelter often have all of their shots up to date and are already de-sexed and you can buy the animals much cheaper and they are sometimes free. Plus, the animals in a pet shop will be bought eventually, those in an animal shelter may not.
  • Research the type of pet you choose. Knowing about their diet and common health problems can help you care for your pet correctly from the beginning and avoid some expensive health problems in the future.
  • Know the animal’s lifespan. The cost of a pet is ongoing but different animals can keep costing you for longer than others. For example a guinea pig will live an average of four years but a cat can live up to 20 years. A parrot can live on average 50 years and in some cases up to 80 years so be prepared. 
How about you all? Do you all have any other tips on how to save on pet ownership? If you have a pet, have there been any costs that you didn’t expect when you first purchased the animal? 

Share your experiences by commenting below!

If you ever want to contribute to My Personal Finance Journey through a guest post, simply email me with your proposed topic, and we can work from there!

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