It’s hard to understate the benefits of owning a pet. Pets provide us love, companionship, and fun. That’s why over 85 million Americans, or 67% of the total population, own a pet.
But we don’t often talk about the downsides of pet ownership, and the cost is a big one. Dog owners spend up to $1,170 per year on average for essential needs and services.
If you are thinking about becoming a first-time pet owner, keep reading. We’re going to explore the biggest costs of owning a pet that you should be aware of before adopting your first furry friend.
Costs of the essentials
The costs of the essentials are pretty obvious. To be a good pet owner, you have to pay for the bare minimum to keep your pet alive and happy: food, water, food and water bowls, a bed, a leash, a collar, toys, etc.
These costs can be high at the beginning, but most of these are items that can be reused for a long time, only needing replacement every few years. (Food and water are obviously exceptions. Kibble adds up over the years!)
Medical costs are also a no-brainer. Everyone knows dogs and cats need vaccinations, a spay/neuter procedure, and a yearly checkup.
But don’t think that’s all you’ll have to worry about. Just like people, pets are likely to have unforeseen medical problems sprout up at some point in their lifetimes, and you’ll have to foot the (sometimes quite costly) bill. For this reason, many choose to get pet insurance for their dog or cat.
Grooming costs are one you might not have considered. This is usually an optional cost, as most dogs can be groomed at home, and others need little to no grooming at all.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of paying groomer fees regularly, make sure you adopt a low-maintenance breed. A few low-maintenance dog breeds include terriers, dachshunds, chihuahuas, and French bulldogs. Some low-maintenance cat breeds include Sphinx, British Shorthair, Russian Blue, and Maine Coon cats.
This is another cost that you might not think of until the time comes that you need a dog or cat-sitter. We all go out of town from time to time, and our furry friends can’t always tag along. At times like these, you’ll need to pay for a sitter or doggy daycare. If you lead a busy lifestyle, you might also pay for a dog walker.
So, how can pet owners mitigate the high costs of pet ownership?
Pets are expensive—that much is pretty unavoidable. Luckily, there are a few choices you can make that will make owning a pet a bit easier on your wallet. With these tips, you’ll get all the love and joy of a pet with far less financial strain.
Adopt, don’t shop!
You’ve probably heard this mantra from pro-pet adoption advocates. There are many ethical reasons for adopting pets from shelters rather than from a breeder, but did you know it’s significantly cheaper to “adopt, not shop?”
Buying a pet from a breeder can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000. Adopting a pet from a shelter costs anywhere from $50-200, and these pets are often already vaccinated and “fixed.”
Groom your pet at home.
As we mentioned above, groomer costs can be expensive. Pet owners can easily groom most pet breeds at home and save themselves hundreds of dollars over their pet’s lifetime.
Even just trimming your own pet’s nails can save you approximately $18 per visit to the groomer.
Insure your pet.
Lastly, also as mentioned above, pet insurance can be a wise choice for those looking to protect themselves from unforeseen medical costs. Paying for pet insurance can be much wiser financial choice than paying out-of-pocket for potential surgeries, vaccinations, and medications your pet may need.