Bringing an animal into your home is a responsibility almost on par with having a child, so before you go out to procure a pooch, you need to know what is entailed in becoming a pet parent. And if you think it’s going to be cheap, you’d better think again. If you haven’t yet tallied up the cost of food, vet visits, grooming, and other necessities (and extras) for your new animal then you really don’t have any idea of what the total cost will be. It’s probably nowhere near the estimated $200,000+ it costs to raise a child to the age of 18, but you should be prepared for the fact that some pets can live in your house as long as (or longer than) a son or daughter. And you are solely responsible for their health and well-being during that time. So if you’re not sure if you have the money to care for your new best friend, here are just a few of the costs you should consider.
1. Food. The bare minimum of your obligation to your pet is to keep it well-fed. Your dog or cat cannot feed itself, so if you can’t afford it, your pet will starve. The price will depend upon the size and species of your pet as well as the type of food you choose, but it could be more costly if you take on an animal with special dietary needs.
2. Vet visits. At the very least, your pet pal will need to be spade/neutered, receive their initial vaccinations, and go in for an annual checkup (which will likely cost you upwards of $100 per year). If they need additional tests, the price will go up. And you should be aware that many pets also benefit from annual dental cleanings. Of course, this doesn’t even begin to take into account the outrageous prices you could pay if your pet is injured or ill. So you may want to prepare for that as well.
3. Medication. If your dog, cat, or other pet has any kind of medical condition, you will probably have to take on the cost of prescription medication in addition to other expenses. Depending on the disorder, this could add several hundred (or thousand) dollars a year to the tab associated with pet ownership.
4. Toys. While some people may not think that toys are a necessary part of pet ownership, you need to ensure not only that your animal stays alive, but also that they are healthy and happy in every way possible. By providing them with a variety of toys, you can keep them mentally well in addition to their physical wellness.
5. Grooming. Whether you choose to groom your animal on your own or take them to a groomer, you’re going to have to invest some time and money in their ongoing physical maintenance (unless you want to find yourself dealing with dandruff, mange, odor, or a number of other hygiene-related issues).
6. Insurance. You don’t have to get pet insurance for your pooch or feline, but if you don’t, you could eventually face some very high medical costs. This is an option that will cost you annually, but could reduce out-of-pocket expenses down the road.
Dan Perl writes for AdvanceMe, the nation’s leading merchant cash advance provider.