Getting a pet is a big decision in your family’s life, and it should not be taken lightly. While of course pets are wonderful companions and can bring you a lot of joy, you should carefully think about whether you can afford to take proper care of your pet, as the costs of pet ownership are not insignificant. Here is a guide to help you figure out whether you have the budget to welcome a furry friend into your life.
Pet food—especially high-quality brands—can carry a significant cost. You can cook pet food at home and reduce the cost, but make sure to consult a veterinarian or pet nutritionist and run your recipe ideas past them, as it’s easy to get the nutritional balance wrong. Cooking your own pet food will take a lot of research in the beginning and, of course, extra food prep and cooking time compared to just serving your pet some kibble and a pouch of wet food. Consider whether you would have the time to keep on top of your pet’s homemade meals, and if not, budget for a mixture of wet and dry high-quality store-bought pet food.
Pets need vaccinations, health check-ups, and regular worm, flea, and tick preventative treatments, which can all cost a significant amount of money—and that’s before any necessary surgery or other interventions. As part of your budgeting effort, therefore, it’s important that you shop around for vets in your area and get an idea of what you might need to spend on medical treatments for your pet. A great budget-friendly option is easyvet, a chain of vet clinics that keep their costs down by outsourcing some of the more complicated and rarer treatments—such as major surgery—and concentrating on offering all the standard services such as pet vaccinations nutritional advice, and health check-ups.
Unless you have plenty of savings, it would probably be a good idea for you to get a pet insurance policy. Pet insurance can cover accidents only, accidents and illness, or even include a wider ‘wellness’ plan. While you might be able to pay for your pet’s regular medical expenses out of pocket, should your pet be involved in an accident or develop a serious illness and require surgery, you might be facing thousands of dollars’ worth of costs. Last year, the average annual premium for accident and illness insurance in the U.S. was $594.15 for dogs and $341.81 for cats.
Unfortunately, pets are not naturally well behaved by human standards, and they need to be trained in order to ensure that they and you live well together—much like their mother and the rest of the pack would have trained them in the wild. You can train your pet yourself, but if you are adopting from a shelter—which is, of course, the cheaper and kinder option—be prepared to take your pet to some training sessions to undo any damage done by the pet’s previous owners.