These days, around 37% of households in the United States have a dog or a cat, according to the ASPCA. If you don’t have a pet already, Instagram accounts like this one will make you want to drop everything and head to the animal shelter. While big puppy dog eyes can be tempting, there are a few things to consider before bringing your fluffy little bundle of joy home. To make sure you’re ready for all of the financial responsibilities, here are some costs to consider.
As with many big purchases, there are a series of upfront costs associated with getting a pet. If you’re adopting an animal from a shelter, the fees can range from $75–$300, depending on your location. (Depending on the time of year, the shelter may also be running sales on certain types of animals. Make sure to check with your local shelter!)
Although adopting can be costly, the good news is that your pet has likely already been spayed or neutered and had all of his or her vaccinations. If you take in a stray, you’ll have to pay for all of the vaccines and procedures out of pocket, which can cost you roughly $80–$250, depending on where you get the work done.
Regardless of whether your new pet comes from a shelter or the streets, you should book a visit to the vet as soon as you can once you bring your pet home. You can’t be sure how healthy your new pet is upon first glance, so it’s really important for strays to visit the vet ASAP.
For preventive reasons, it’s recommended to take your cat or dog to the vet one or two times a year. Many diseases, like heartworm and feline immunodeficiency virus, show no symptoms, so your veterinarian may be the only one who can tell when your pet needs medical attention. Depending on your veterinarian, checkups typically cost around $50 or less. Vaccinations are typically $20 each, including boosters.
When choosing your pet, this is one important thing to remember: the bigger the animal, the more food they’ll consume. Your food costs will vary drastically depending on breed. If you decide to go the German shepherd route, a membership to a bulk food distributor can help you significantly. And don’t forget to sign up for the rewards card at your favorite pet store. (I can personally tell you they help a lot – especially if you spoil your pet like I do.)
Puppies and kittens typically eat three times a day, and you can usually reduce this to two times a day as they get older. But this is a generalization, and the amount of food your furry friend needs will depend on his or her size, breed, age and level of activity. Talk to your vet if you’re concerned you’re feeding your new pet too much or too little.
As far as food quality goes, there’s all sorts of fancy food out there for pets. Animals can be picky eaters, and if they have expensive tastes, you’ll wind up paying more. A good baseline estimate for monthly food costs would be $20–$60, depending on how much your animal eats and the quality of food you buy for them.
Pet Gear and Toys
Now for the fun part: shopping! Before you get your new pet, make a trip to a pet store to get the essentials, including beds, bowls, toys, leashes, collars and the right food for your pet’s age group. If you’re bringing home a cat or a kitten, make sure to add a scratching post, litter and a litter box to the list – unless you’re considering potty training (seriously!). It’s also helpful to stock up on cleaning supplies, because no matter how hard you try to avoid them, you’re going to have messes.
Purchasing toys for your pet is an important task as well. Toys not only entertain your pet, but can help with tooth, brain and muscle development. Not to mention toys can keep your pets from chewing on the things they shouldn’t – namely electrical cords or those beautiful shoes you just bought. Pet toys likely won’t make up too much of your yearly pet budget, and you can spend as little or as much as you want. If you’ve never owned a cat before, you’ll soon find that they’re easily entertained and will often reject the more expensive toys for twist ties, pens or boxes.
Altogether, you can expect to spend around $80–$100 your first time at the pet store. It’s easy to get carried away, but if you restrain yourself and keep an eye out for deals, you can probably come in under budget.
This is another area where the costs are dependent on the size and type of dog you have. If you have a small or medium-size dog that doesn’t require a complicated hairdo, you can expect to pay from $30–$70, depending on your salon. If your dog is large and has an extremely thick coat or complicated cut, then you can spend $100 or more, depending on the salon. You can offset these costs by regularly bathing, brushing and clipping your dog’s nails yourself.
If you’re a renter, don’t forget to make sure your landlord allows pets. Sometimes you can be fined, or even evicted, if you’re found with a pet that you didn’t tell your landlord about. Many landlords will let you pay an upfront deposit or monthly fees to cover any damages your pet incurs while living under their roof. If your building has a “no pets” policy, you might be able to negotiate a monthly rate – or you can just show them your adorable new puppy. I doubt they’ll say no.
If you own your home, you’ll have fewer hurdles to jump through when getting a pet. But you’ll also have to prepare your home for your new pet’s arrival. If you’re getting a dog or planning on letting your cat roam outside, a fenced yard will make your life a lot easier – so you might want to look into fencing options for your yard or a way to tie up your dog while you’re inside. You also want to make sure you don’t have any poisonous plants in your yard.
All of this can seem pricey, but the beginning is typically the most expensive part of pet ownership. Once you get your pet all settled in, your costs will go down significantly, and you’ll spend your time playing and snuggling with your new best friend. Do you have any financial tips for new pet owners? Share them in the comments section!
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