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By Kate Streit
As any pet owner can tell you, a furry friend can bring a lot of joy to your life. While most consider pet ownership a worthwhile investment, the associated costs can definitely add up. To start, there’s food, toys, a bed and a crate, and that’s just the basics.
Regular vet visits can set you back a hefty sum, and that’s before factoring in any emergency expenses that might pop up. If you work long hours, you may need to pay to have someone walk your pooch, and don’t forget about all those cute pet costumes you won’t be able to resist.
Before you know it, your canine or feline companion can end up costing you a pretty penny. Here’s how to save for annual costs for a pet so you can easily fit your best friend into your budget.
If you’ve never owned a pet before, or the last time you had a dog in the house your mom and dad were footing the bill, it can be easy to think it won’t be that expensive. According to the American Kennel Club, though, the average lifetime cost of being a pup parent is between $14,000 and $15,000.
So before you commit to giving a pet their forever home, make sure you’re prepared financially for the long haul.
If you think you’re ready to take the plunge and commit yourself to pet parenthood, start saving up so you’re not caught off guard. The Animal Humane Society’s fees for dog adoption are between $118 and $667. For cats and kittens, they are between $34 and $276. For birds, rabbits and other small mammals, you can expect to shell out between $8 and $173.
Just the initial adoption fee for your pet can be a fairly large sum, so you’ll want some cash set aside for this purpose. Opening up a supplemental savings account to prepare for pet ownership can be a great way to reach your goal.
Give your account a fun nickname like “Fido Fund” or “Cat Cash,” so every time you make a deposit, you’ll be reminded of the enjoyment your new pet will bring to your life. Once your pet is a permanent member of the family, you can continue to use the account to save for ongoing or one-time associated expenses, like boarding while you’re out of town, or one of those aforementioned pet costumes for Halloween.
Regular vet visits are a fact of life when you have a pet. Your pet will need annual checkups and vaccinations, and that’s not including any unexpected emergency costs.
According to Consumer Reports, cancer treatments for your pet can easily set you back $5,000. If your furry friend sustains an injury like a torn ACL, which is quite common, that will run you about $3,300.
You may wonder if pet insurance is the answer. Just like health insurance policies for humans, pet insurance policies are a bit complicated. They come with a variety of deductibles, copayments and premiums, so it can be a bit tough to assess exactly how much you’re paying and for what.
According to an analysis by Consumer Reports, only one out of three pet policies on the market paid out more than it cost when they applied policies to two real-life pet illness and injury situations.
If you do decide to purchase pet insurance, be sure to thoroughly compare your options. Ask your vet about likely medical costs for your pet, and ask their opinion about different pet insurers.
A savings account dedicated to your pet expenses may be a better way to pay for medical costs. If you set aside the amount you may pay per month in pet insurance, you may end up with a healthy nest egg when an emergency bill arrives.
A savings account and some savvy spending can help you control your costs. For example, you may think that a high-quality dog food comes with a correspondingly high price tag, but that’s not necessarily the case. Scope out a resource like Dog Food Advisor to find a food that’s both nutritious and affordable.
The same goes for toys. Much like toddlers often prefer the cardboard box the fancy toy came in rather than the gadget itself, dogs can be just as happy with a regular old tennis ball as they would be with an expensive toy from the pet supply store
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