I’m a huge animal lover and so many people are too, with around 30% of households owning a pet. However, if you have not owned a pet before, and are considering getting one for the first time, then these tips will help you ensure that you are prepared for the expenses of being a pet owner – which can be quite hefty.
Years after my husband began pleading for our first cat, I reluctantly caved in, thinking that it would ruin our lifestyle, ruin our furniture, and be a huge responsibility. However, on the drive home, with our soft and fluffy kitten, staring at us wide eyed in the back of the car, my heart melted and I knew we had made the right decision. I fell completely in love.
That said, I was not prepared for how much she would cost. Lara was our beloved pet cat for the next 15 years, and we had so many beautiful moments with her that every minute was worth it. Owning a pet can be very rewarding, but as we found out, can be expensive, and most people don’t realise how much it actually costs to keep a cat or dog.
A leading veterinary charity in the UK found that 12% believe a pet would only cost around £1000 in its whole lifetime – whereas the truth is that pets costs us much, much more than that. According to the PDSA, the average cost more like around £32,000!
This includes things like medical costs, toys, litter, food, training, and other supplies. Even if you have a healthy cat or dog, the medical costs can set you back significantly – and if you choose to get insurance, which is very wise, this is another additional expense each month, and often doesn’t cover all of your expenses.
If you are considering getting a pet, it is therefore necessary to do your research about how long your pet could live for, and what health problems your particular breed of pet could be prone to.
If you have no emergency savings to cushion yourself from an unexpected vet bill, then you may want to reconsider your plans.
To help you make sure you are in a good position to properly look after your pet before you commit, here are a few tips that will help you save money and be prepared.
Save up for Initial Expenses
First of all, make sure you save for initial expenses before you get your pet. There are a number of upfront expenses that you will be expected to pay in your first year of owning a dog or a cat. Things like the cost of the pet. This is particularly relevant if you purchase a specific breed of animal, although you could save here by getting a rescue dog or cat from a charity such as the Cat’s Protection League. You will also have initial vet exams and vaccinations, you will need to get your pet spayed or neutered, and will need flee and tic treatment, bedding, training, toys,etc. You may wish to buy protection for your furniture too, or you could expect to have an expensive outlay for new furniture further down the line, when yours has been shredded by your pet’s playful claws.
Budget for Regular Expenses
Plan your regular monthly outlay for the pet to make sure that you can afford it. Things like food (remember, the bigger the pet, the more food they will need), cat litter, dog walkers, pet sitters, treats, annual vet exams, flee and tic treatments, etc.
Prevention is Cheaper than the Cure
Preventative care should not be scrimped on as it will be far more cost effective than having to pay a bigger problem later on. Make sure you keep up to date with your pet’s annual checks and this will catch any illness before it gets to the stage of it being too expensive to afford. Be proactive and this can not only help your pet to lead a healthier and happier life, but can also cut your lifetime costs.
Shop Around for Pet Insurance
Different pet insurance policies can offer very different cover for your pet. To find the one that is the best value for you, make sure that you read the small print. Many will have an excess, and if you are unable to afford this, you may be put in the difficult position of having to choose between your pet’s life and your finances. Increasing your costs per month may allow you to reduce the amount you have to pay up front for expensive operations, which may be worth it in the long run. Shop for free costs online, and make sure you factor in the age of your pet and previous health issues when getting a quote. Some policies also include damage to property, and you should also check whether there is any liability coverage for law suits for any accidents caused by your pets.
The costs of owning a pet are unpredictable, so it is definitely worth thinking through whether you will be able to afford a pet before you go ahead. Once you have calculated the costs, if you decide you are able to afford a pet, then you are sure for many rewarding years ahead.