An article by BudgetQueen
When I got my puppy Billy at the Humane Society, they made me sign a waiver that I understood that he would cost me an average of $800 a year for food, shots and regular care. It seems like a lot at the time, but eleven years later all I can say is that was a serious UNDER estimate of what he actually cost me.
No one loves animals more than I do, but also I know how much my pets have cost me over the years including an $800 fence, a $1600 large wire dog cage (when the fence didn’t keep the dogs in), chewed cupboards, ruined shoes and finally a $2400 surgery for a cat when she swallowed a toy.
Most of my friends and family thought I was crazy to spend all of this, but I believe that you are obligated (to a point) to keep them safe, healthy and happy. However it is also important not to let them ruin you financially.
Where do you draw the line?
I have two friends who have completely different views on what to do if a pet gets sick.
One friend will not spend more than $100 to keep one of her animals alive if something came up. She says that she knows that it sounds cold, but she is not willing to go into debt over one of the animals.
Another friend rescued an abandoned puppy only to find it had Parvo virus two days later. $4800 dollars and ten days later, she brought it home. However, less than three weeks later she had to return it to the vets because it swallowed human medication (which can immediately shut down the organs).
The answer is that you need to figure out your own cut-off for how much you will spend, but it is best to do it BEFORE you get the pet. Make sure to include $30 – $50 in your monthly budget per cat, and $50 – $100 per dog (this includes food, care and vets visits).
Start saving early for your pet using a savings account, or look into pet insurance.
Let’s go “vet shopping!”
“Doctor shopping” can get you in trouble, but “vet shopping” is just plain smart.
I take my animals to three different vets. One is for cheaper surgeries like spaying and neutering. Another vet operates out of his house and charges me the minimal amount for things like check-ups and shots; he even writes me prescriptions that I can have filled at my local pharmacy – eliminating expensive medication costs. Finally I have a vet for emergencies. They are expensive but they are open 24 hours a day.
Cutting down on kennel costs
Sometimes the biggest expense on a vacation was to put my two dogs in a kennel. Even if they shared the same kennel, it still cost me $25 a day. They are closed on Sundays so if I didn’t pick them up Saturday night, I would have to pay two extra days. Sometimes we had to come home early just to get them. The worst part was that it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get them a kennel on a holiday unless we made plans far in advance.
We found a trustworthy neighbor kid that is more than willing to watch the dogs at $10 a day (used to be $5). That is a pretty nice sum for a 13-year old. We pay less than 40% of what we used to – everyone is happy! Now we can return from our trips on Sunday!
All I know is that even though my pets have cost me a lot, they have been worth it. Sure I was mad when the cat broke the flat screen by toppling it over. Yes I was embarrassed when my dog lifted his leg on my dad’s Christmas tree. But all it takes is a dog that is always happy to see you, or a cat that purrs on your lap, to remind you that you love them. I hope you have fewer expenses, but just as many laughs with your new pet as I had with mine.