Pets Are Expensive: How to Save for a New Puppy—or Two
If you’re an animal person, you know that pets make the best companions. Whether you’re a young professional in your first home, growing your family as a parent, or looking for some company in retirement, there are lots of milestones when you may be ready to bring a furry friend into your life. But before you start browsing the SPCA website, there are other things you should factor in. What’s the right pet for your living situation? Are there any allergies in the family you need to keep in mind? What about the financial cost of owning a dog or a cat? At the end of the day, pets represent a long-term expense and you need to ensure that you are financially prepared to take on the responsibility.
How Much Does a Pet Really Cost?
The top three most popular pets in the U.S. are fish, cats, and dogs. In fact, across the country, 79.5 million dogs are registered as pets—and they’re not cheap. In 2018, Americans collectively spent around $72.56 billion on their dogs. That totals an average $913 per dog per year. And that doesn’t account for the more intangible costs such as the time and energy it takes to care for an animal. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the expenses to be aware of, that way you can make an informed decision before you bring a pet into your home.
One of the first things you’ll have to do when you get a cat or a dog is take them to the vet. Beyond their first checkup, puppies and kittens also need a series of vaccines to protect them while they’re still vulnerable. As an example, at the Pennsylvania SPCA, you’ll pay $48 for their puppy vaccine package and another $50 per year once the dog is an adult.
If you’re looking to get your dog neutered or spayed, this procedure can also be performed at the Pennsylvania SPCA. For these surgeries, you can expect to pay between $185 and $205, with an extra $30 charge for dogs over 50 pounds.
And those are just the baseline costs. If your pet is injured or ill, or eats something they shouldn’t, the vet bill will grow—and fast. To prevent these exorbitant costs, consider investing in pet insurance. In Pennsylvania, depending on the company you choose to go with, the monthly premiums can cost between $13 to $50.
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We all need to eat—and pets are no exception. According to The American Pet Products Association, food is the largest portion of annual spending on dogs coming in at $30.3 billion. Of course, your dog’s size will be an important factor in determining how much you spend on food: a bigger tank needs more gas. Other contributing considerations include the brand, ingredients, and whether you can buy it in bulk. If your pet has any allergies or food intolerances, you may end up having to spend more on specialized foods or homemade options.
One of the biggest investments you’ll have to make when you get a pet is your time. A new puppy or a kitten requires constant quality attention. When it comes to new dogs, they need training, walks, and bonding time with their owners in order to grow up into a happy healthy pet. This also means that you might have to give up your morning yoga class to walk your dog, skip your lunch break so that you can make it home for a midday stroll, or cut down your social events in the evening so that you can be home for dinner time. With that in mind: is your job close enough to home to make this work? Do you have enough time in the day to spend on your pet? These are all things you should consider as you get closer to making your decision.
The short of it is this: get a pet when you are both emotionally and financially ready for one. Reconsider these costs before diving into the exciting experience of getting a puppy or a kitten.