Sometimes the cost of having a pet is more expensive than you think, especially considering surprise costs .
Pets bring a great deal of joy to our lives. I know this because of my relationship with our beloved dog, Oreo. Yet, I can’t ignore the reality that the little furball costs us money.
When deciding whether or not to own a family pet, it is essential to consider your budget and finances because pets can be expensive.
Most people only consider the cost of purchasing the pet. But that’s just one small portion of the total cost of owning a pet. Even when you think you’ve budgeted enough for a family pet, you might find yourself in a bind when the hidden costs of pet ownership rear their ugly heads.
As each year passes, the cost of having a pet can steadily increase. So, ask yourself, are you ready for those added expenses? More importantly, is your budget ready?
Family Pet Costs: Purchase vs. Adopt
The cost of purchasing an animal is the most obvious cost associated with a pet.
Whether you decide to purchase or adopt, make sure you do so from a reputable source. A failure to do so could become more than you asked for financially down the road.
Adopting a pet from a rescue shelter is not only pretty cool, but it can also save you a ton of money upfront. Our niece decided to do it, and she adopted a wonderful Sheepadoodle. It wasn’t treated well by its prior owner and had some issues. But, with a bit of work and care, Domino has flourished. He’s a wonderfully loving, playful dog. My niece spent a couple of hundred dollars on medicine and some elbow grease to clean him up. But, it was less than buying one from a breeder, and she takes a good deal of satisfaction for helping Dom out of a tough situation.
Our family purchased Oreo from a reputable breeder over two years ago. I budgeted the cost of having a pet, and we drove 3 ½ hours to pick him up. He was my first pet, and I wasn’t comfortable at that time adopting (though it’s really changed since then).
The Hidden Cost of Having a Pet
During his first week with us, while walking with my wife, Oreo ate a mushroom, and the poor guy got REALLY sick, REALLY fast. As I sped down the road to the veterinarian’s emergency room, I quickly got “schooled” on the unexpected costs of having my first pet. BAM! There goes $500.
The kids remind me that I wasn’t the most caring “dog father” back then, but I was thankful that he made it through. I can only imagine what an absolute emotional disaster it would’ve been if he didn’t make it. The psychiatrist bills, I’m afraid would’ve been a lot more expensive.
But if that experience wasn’t bad enough, Oreo did it AGAIN!
As you know, I’m clearly money-focused, and the second incident left me wondering if all of this was worth it. It would have been over this time if we hadn’t been less than two minutes from the vet. Literally. This time, Oreo had to spend the night in a puppy ICU.
The ICU? For a dog? Really?
I didn’t even know they had those.
The cost was more than $1,000, and I started to question my sanity (as well as throw up a little in my mouth).
I’m still embarrassed, but honesty with money is one of my mottos, so I’m just being honest with you.
Oh, did I mention that I had to have the yard sprayed to get rid of the mushrooms that Oreo kept eating? Now THAT is a hidden cost.
So, we decided to purchase best pet insurance, and we have been incident-free for over 24 months, but having insurance has helped cover some other pet costs. I’m just hoping that, if the time comes, the monthly payment will cover us for a big payout.
Have An Emergency Fund for your Pet Expenses
If you are thinking of welcoming a pet into your family, there are many things to consider, including creating an emergency pet fund.
Animals need food, medical assistance, and, just like kids, they love treats and toys. Depending on the type of family pet you purchase, you may need leashes, collars, litter boxes, and other accessories. Even goldfish cost money. You don’t want to lose your pet, so you’ll want to consider a fence or a microchip.
I’d love to be able to track my kids at all times using a microchip. Oh wait, that’s why we have cell phones, and I don’t want to go to jail either.
You get the picture. Take your time when weighing the cost of owning a dog because chances are, you haven’t thought of everything.
The ROI on Pets
Although it is not easily calculated, there can be a significant Return on that Investment (ROI, for those following the podcast) when purchasing a pet. Pet ownership helps kids share better, boost their immune systems, and learn responsibility. It can result in more exercise for the kids, a bit of grit to clean up poop, and a greater emotional depth. Plus, it provides them with years of enjoyment and love.
What’s that worth? For some, it’s priceless, as long as we don’t break the bank along the way.
The True Cost of Pet Ownership
When you consider food and other needs, you’re looking at between $800 and $2,000 per year to own a dog. With better nutrition, gizmos, training, and more, that cost can be significantly more (over $10,000 a year). Since dogs, for example, live for about ten years, expect to spend $8k-$20k (or possibly $100k) in the next decade. If that sounds like it may be too much, you might want to re-think purchasing a dog.
In our podcast called “Max costs Money“
we talk about some other options that will reduce your cost of having a pet. I believe the cheapest pet we found was a $40 ant farm with a yearly food budget of $6/year.
That would never work for my wife. Having “insects” in the house, whether invited or not, is a non-starter.
There are pet options out there that can also be much more expensive.
Hey, Michael Jackson had Bubbled the chimpanzee. From a quick search, it sounds like chimps can go for upwards of $60k, which is more than a giraffe ($45k).
When dealing with money, it’s about making wise choices.
Think Before You Act
Pets are great for the whole family. But you need to determine if the cost of having a pet will fit into your family budget.
Do your best to calculate the actual expected cost before you decide, including unforeseen expenses. That means doing your research and realizing it’s not a one-and-done payment.
Just like the cost of having kids, the costs associated with pet ownership keep going up and sometimes will surprise you.
Be a wise consumer and money manager, and always do your homework first. Once you are aware of the average pet cost per month in pet ownership, then you can make an informed decision..