Pets Are Expensive: How to Keep Fido From Breaking Your Budget

Monday, April 01, 2024

Worth Knowing/Blog/Pets Are Expensive: How to Keep Fido From Breaking Your Budget

We love our pets. They’re practically members of our families. Slobbery, stinky, needy, family members, but still family, no less.

But here’s the thing: While pets may have an easy time capturing our hearts if we’re not careful, they can also capture our wallets.

That’s because pets are expensive!

They require food, exercise, medical care, and affection. Above that, within each of those categories, are a million other costs that, if you’re unprepared for can completely blow your budget.

If you’re on the fence about pet ownership, it’s a good idea to start by taking a look at how the decision will affect not only your life but your finances.

Here are a few things you should consider:

How Your Finances Change


​Let’s take a look at a few of the one-time costs associated with cats and dogs.

The ASPCA has a helpful guide on some of the costs that come along with owning a pet. Some of them are one time, while others remain ongoing for as long as you own your pet.

How Much Does It Cost To Have A Pet?

Spaying or Neutering: Dog: $200 / Cat: $145
Initial Medical Exam: Dog: $70 / Cat: $130
Collar or Leash: Dog: $30 / Cat: $10
Litter Box: Cat: $25
Scratching Post: Cat: $15
Crate: Dog: $95 depending on size
Carrying Crate: Dog: $60 / Cat: $40
Training: Dog: $110
Total One-time Costs: Dog: $565 / Cat: $365

I’m an animal lover and a dog-parent, so I know first-hand how insignificant these costs can seem compared to the cuddles of your “little” Great Dane. That said, I still agree that you shouldn’t let a cute face put a strain on your wallet. You have to look at the average cost of a pet to make a well-informed decision.

Not being able to care for an animal financially is a disservice to both you and your pet.

They can’t earn money, so they rely on you to care for them. And, let’s be honest, if you can’t afford to take good care of your pet, you probably should reconsider having one altogether.

But let’s say you can afford it, and you’re ready to become a pet owner.

For starters, it’s a great idea to start a savings account specifically for your pet. In the same way that you should have some savings stashed away for your own emergencies, it’s a good idea to have an account for your pet, too.

This can help with things like intangibles.

You know, like replacing dog beds because the old one smells like death, and you don’t want people coming over and saying, “Oh, you have a dog… (while making ‘the face’...you know the face) even when the dog isn’t home. Or a cleaning lady because you’re too busy to be constantly cleaning up dog hair, and the cost of a Roomba ($500) just doesn’t make financial sense.

And don’t forget about accidents!

Sometimes that cute little puppy turns into Satan’s dog. Somehow, he’s still lovable even as he wreaks havoc on your home. In this case, you are going to need to budget for things he/she eats that aren’t dog food. You know, remote controls, the neighbors’ cell phone, shoes, etc. Budgeting a small amount of money to replace things will help you cover their “accidents” without interfering with your current lifestyle.

Housebreaking your pet takes time and sometimes money. Pet accidents in the home may start small but can be expensive. Urine removal products can cost upwards of $20 a bottle and if housebreaking doesn’t go as smoothly as planned then replacing carpet or other flooring can cost you hundreds. It’s often worth the upfront expense of hiring a trainer to housebreak your pet, stay off furniture and stop chomping on your favorite shoes.

You may not think about these and other pet costs when you are bringing Tiny home from the shelter, but you have to in order to make good decisions for both your new fur baby and your household.

We don’t like to think of worst-case scenarios, but we have to consider the potential health problems that your pet will experience as she ages. In addition to annual vet visits, your pet may need special medical care. Even young, active pets can hurt themselves. Broken legs and teeth aren’t out of the realm of possibility. You want to ensure that your pet receives high-quality care so that recovery is quick and she’s back to living her best life possible. Pet insurance policies are available nationwide but should be reviewed carefully before signing on the dotted line. Consult with a veterinarian regarding recommended insurance policies for your pet.

Some of the best ways to take care of your pet for years to come will depend on the breed and type of pet you own, but may include:

  • Feeding her high-quality pet food
  • Making sure your pet gets plenty of exercise
  • Keeping her teeth healthy
  • Weight management since overweight pets (like people) tend to be susceptible to health issues

How Your Lifestyle Changes

Pets demand responsibility. Think you’re gonna just party all night and sleep in? Nope! Especially not if you have a high-energy pup.

My dog starts to moo like a cow if I try to ignore him when he’s ready for his morning turn up. Even worse, he’s a Great Dane, so he will just walk up to the bed, stand over me and put his drooling head on my face. Yuck!

Needless to say, when another creature depends on you, you have to show up. And that’s what makes pet ownership so complicated.

While pets can be a wonderful addition to your life, owning one is a decision that should not be taken lightly. They will change your entire world, so it’s essential that you be prepared.

So before adding another member to your family, assess your current finances, the additional cost of having a pet, and your lifestyle to make sure that you’re really ready for the commitment.

Lauryn Williams

Hi, I'm Lauryn

Certified Financial Planner

Welcome to the Worth Listening podcast and blog where we focus on having positive and productive conversations about money.

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