Doing the math: Can you afford a pet?

Maybe your kids wore you down. Or, while just popping into a nearby store there was a pet adoption event and there he was: Two big brown eyes staring out from a bundle of fur. It was love at first sight.

Before envisioning long walks and fur-baby snuggles, make sure you are financially prepared for what’s ahead. The ASPCA estimates the first year costs of owning a pet is at least $1,000 – and that’s not even factoring in unexpected emergencies.

Here is the breakdown of the average annual costs for a medium dog (not including the adoption fee which can range from $45-$300).

One-time costs

Spaying/Neuter: $200
Initial Medical Exam: $70
Collar and leash: $30-$45
Crate: $95+
Travel Crate: $60+
Training: $110

Recurring costs

Food: $319
Annual Exams: $235
Toys/Treats: $55+
License: $15
Grooming: $264+
Pet Insurance: $225
Misc.: $45

First Year Average TOTAL: $1,723

If you have a large dog that average total jumps to $2,008. Cats are a bit friendlier on your wallet at $1,174. Here are a few tips to help keep costs down.

Schedule regular check-ups
Don’t be afraid to shop around for the right vet and compare preventative care fees. We went through two veterinary practices before finding one who cared as much about our wallet as our fur baby. When we called about the dog having loose stool, instead of insisting we bring him in immediately for hundreds of dollars worth of testing, our vet told us to first try adding a tablespoon of pureed pumpkin to his food. The can cost $0.89 and it worked! Who knew?

Brush your pet’s teeth
Just don’t use toothpaste made for people since the fluoride may irritate your pet’s stomach. But good dental health is important for pets – believe it or not, dental disease can lead to heart and kidney problems.

Groom your pet at home
Some grooming salons offer a fully stocked self-service room complete with tub, blow dryer, apron and gloves at a fraction of the cost. Bonus? You take your fresh smelling dog home without doing any post-bath clean-up. Also invest in a good brush. Setting aside daily brushing time is good for your pet and will reduce the amount of hair floating around your home.

Tomorrow, I’ll share how we learned the hard way to expect the unexpected when it comes to budgeting for your pet.


Myriam DiGiovanni

Myriam DiGiovanni

After writing for Credit Union Times and The Financial Brand, Myriam DiGiovanni covers financial literacy for FinancialFeed. She is also a storytelling expert and works with credit unions to help ... Web: Details