Pets add instant happiness to our lives, giving us unconditional love the way no one else can. They're our closest companions, cuddly saviors, and serotonin boosters when we're feeling down. As wonderful as this is, however, can you afford it? If you're set on a furry friend, it's vital to establish the costs, from bringing them home to saving for emergencies down the line. When you know what you need, it's easier to set a budget, allowing you to keep Fido strong and healthy without breaking the bank.
The initial cost to bring your furry friend home depends on the breed and where you pick up your new pal. Specialty breeds can cost thousands at your local pet store, while some adoption centers and shelters offer friendly cats and dogs sans fee. Most, however, will charge an initial fee ranging anywhere from $50 to $350. Keep in mind what this includes, however: your pet will arrive already spayed or neutered with their initial veterinary exams completed.
Pet insurance functions like human health insurance, helping cover the cost of illness or injury. It's highly recommended but not necessary if you prefer to pay out-of-pocket. From teeth cleanings to annual check-ups, heartworm medication, diagnostics, procedures, and prescriptions, preventative care insurance helps you cover the costs through reimbursement. Many plans feature high annual limits up to $15k starting at just $10 per month, so if something unexpected arises, your pet will be in excellent care without emptying your wallet.
If you want your furry friend to grow up healthy, then vaccinations are an absolute must. The average cost ranges from $75 to $100 for core vaccines, which are administered over a series of three visits. New pets are vaccinated until they reach four months old, with first vaccines given at six weeks and follow-ups occurring at 12 and 16 weeks. This cost includes five core vaccines for pups: distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvo, and parainfluenza. Kittens require vaccination for feline distemper, feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and rabies.
Size makes the biggest impact on pet food price, along with specific breed requirements, dietary needs, and overall health. Generally, the smaller the pet, the smaller the food quantity, and therefore, the lower the cost. Of course, this is a recurring expense, and you can score major savings by stocking up in bulk. The average dog owner shells out between $250 and $700 per year on food and treats, while the average cat owner spends $180 to $840.
Keep the newest member of your family occupied with playful plushies, balls, and teasers. This won't take up a significant portion of your budget, but it's something to consider. Pets tire of old toys the same way children do, so playthings require replacement every once in a while. Toys range from $5 to $25 each, so your total cost will depend on quality, type, and just how much you want to spoil Mr. Cuddles.
Animals, especially new ones, are bound to make messes, so incorporate cleaning fees into your budget. If you're renting an apartment or house, this includes a refundable fee and a nonrefundable deposit of $200 to $500. Some buildings charge monthly pet rent on top of this, which costs an additional $25 to $100 every month. Before leaving the rental, you'll need to do a thorough rundown to eliminate any fur, stains, or odors. Whether you rent or own, however, factor in the cost of cleaning supplies, tools, or professional services to keep your space spic and span.
Traveling with furry friends is a journey in itself, so you need to decide which route to take. Taking your cat or dog on a plane costs about $125 each way, and you'll need animal-friendly accommodations that frequently feature their own pet fees — usually around $25 per night.
If toting them along isn't doable, kennel or boarding services are always an option. For a week, the average cost ranges from $140 to $665 for luxury accommodations, so conduct proper research before selecting a place. Most include bathing, grooming, and obedience training, while others charge extra for these same services.
On-the-go owners frequently hire dog walkers or sitters to keep furry friends occupied while they're away, but those costs accumulate quickly. The average rate for a dog walker is $20 to $40 per hour, which varies based on the length of the walk and the location. Pet sitters charge about $30 per day and $75 to $85 for overnights, but this depends on the services involved. A sitter offering companionship to your new kittens will charge far less than one walking, feeding, and keeping an aggressive greyhound occupied.
Pet insurance usually covers exams and preventative care, but you'll need to be reimbursed. For those who don't opt-in to insurance, prepare to pay $50 to $100 to cover your animal's annual wellness exam. Your veterinarian will discuss vital issues with you, such as micro-chipping, bloodwork, behavior, nutrition, exercise, thirst, lifestyle, and general health.
Lab tests and additional exams are extra, with fecal exams costing around $30, heartworm tests in the $50 range, dental cleaning from $70 to $400, allergy tests in the $200 range, and $200-$300 for blood tests.
Experts recommend that new pet parents stow money aside for a rainy day. Most pet owners have at least one emergency care bill during their pet's lifespan, which can easily run anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. You never know what could happen, but from testing to medication to time spent in the hospital, costs add up, and it's always best to be prepared.
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