You have decided you need a pet because you want emotional support, or maybe you just love animals, but have you thought about the hidden costs of owning pets? Having pets is more than just getting to snuggle with an adorable ball of fluff. When you pay the adoption fee, that’s just the beginning of lifelong expenses that you might not have thought about.
Expected Annual Expenses
Naturally, you expect certain expenses like pet food or kitty litter, if you’re planning on getting a cat. You expect to have to feed your pet and even take it to the vet for regular exams. If you’re like most pet owners, you probably also want to spoil your furry friend a little by buying toys and treats for them to enjoy. Expect to research the best pet insurance plans to cover your fur-baby when you need to visit the vet.
Bedding for your pet is also an expected expense at least that first year. Eventually, you’ll have to replace it, but you won’t need to do that for a while. Depending on where you live, you’ll also need to register your pet to get a license that says you’re allowed to have a pet on your property. You should also get your pet microchipped because it associates you with your pet if it ever gets lost, so it can hopefully get back to you.
Other associated costs with owning your pet are likely not on your radar. Even when it comes to the basics, your pet may require special food due to allergies or sensitivities that show up later. Specialized food can be more expensive, so right there, your costs of ownership increase. If your pet also needs regular medication, that’s another expense you may not have been aware of. To help cut down on some of these costs, you might consider a pet subscription program because you’ll score some discounts if you participate in an auto-ship service.
What about when you travel for extended periods? Who will take care of your pet, or are you going to take it with you? If you decide to board your pet while traveling, that’s another unexpected cost. Boarding houses can get pricey, too, if you want the one that will pamper your pet every single day. Alternatively, if you decide to take your pet with you, you will have to pay an extra expense to hotels that allow pets, as most of them require a pet deposit.
You also have to consider where you live. If you live in an apartment, you need to make sure you’re allowed to have a pet before you go searching for a furry friend to adopt. Apartments that allow pets frequently require pet deposits and also have restrictions that you will need to follow. When you move at some point, you’ll need to do a thorough cleaning of your apartment to get your deposit back. Other cleaning fees you can expect include buying a vacuum that can handle pet hair along with pet-friendly cleaners.
Personal and household costs can also become an issue if you’re not ready for them, especially if your new pet is a puppy or a kitten. They don’t mean to, but they can be destructive and ruin carpets or furniture. Some dogs love to dig, so they could easily dig up your landscaped backyard. Kittens and some cats love to climb, so you might end up looking at destroyed draperies, too. Needing to repair or replace these items also becomes an unexpected expense that you may not be prepared to handle.
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How to Prepare for the Unexpected
As pets get older, there is a good chance that they will need significant medical care in addition to other expenses at some point in their lives. It’s an excellent idea to save up a few thousand dollars for when it happens. When pets are younger, it’s not quite as likely, so it gives you time to save up for when you actually need it. If you never do, count yourself fortunate, but at least you’ll be prepared.
You would do well to write out an expected budget for your pet, too. Align the expenses for your pets with your own budget to see if you can afford to pay for what your pet will need in the future. Don’t forget to include savings, insurance fees, money for travel needs, and cleaning fees. If your pet’s needs are more than you can afford and you’re not willing to cut back here and there, then you’re probably not in the best place for a pet at this time.
Pet insurance is also exceedingly helpful due to the expenses that normally happen in addition to the unexpected. Not only does pet insurance help with covering routine preventative care visits, but when you have a pet that requires major surgery, that insurance will come in handy to help cover that $2000 or more bill. Several different pet insurance companies offer excellent coverage at competitive rates, so shop around for the best deal. Remember, it’s easier to budget a nominal monthly fee than to prepare for an unexpected expense.
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Owning a Pet Is a Big Responsibility
When you decide to own a pet, it’s a big responsibility that you can’t just drop. Some people like the idea of having a pet, but when push comes to shove, actually having and caring for a pet is not something they want to do. Between the time and money that pets demand to be healthy and happy, you need to be ready for those unexpected expenses. Sure, you’re prepared for the annual vet visits and pet food, but it’s those hidden costs that you’ll need to think about.
If you discover your cat needs grain-free food because it’s allergic to corn, you’ll have to be prepared to pay a little more. If your new puppy chews up the corner of your couch cushion, you’ll have to decide whether or not it’s worth replacing. Being prepared for these issues means saving money to account for them when things happen. Getting pet insurance is also a good idea, so you aren’t burdened later on with significant amounts of vet bills.