Can I afford a pet?

June 17, 2019

Do you feel like it's time to have a furry, scaly or feathered friend in your life? Rather than go out and get a pet on a whim, start by asking yourself: Can I afford a pet? A pet depends on you for all its needs, so it's important to be aware of the costs of pet ownership before buying or adopting one.

Below is a basic list of what you'll have to work into your budget when you own a pet.

  • Beginning costs

When you purchase a pet from a pet store or breeder, the price could range from under $100 to thousands. If your pet of choice is available at a shelter, that's generally cheaper and may have vaccines, spaying/neutering and microchip rolled into the price - which could still total hundreds of dollars.

  • Regular costs

What you spend in this category depends on the type of pet, its age, size and health, among other things. For dogs and cats, for example, you need to pay for food, treats, toys, vet visits, flea and tick medications and waste disposal tools. Pets such as guinea pigs, parrots, or fish have different needs that require special equipment (think heating lamps, aquariums, etc).

  • Unexpected costs

Surprises can spring up any time. What if you need to replace a piece of furniture that Fluffy destroyed? What if you discover that your pet ate something toxic? That takes a pricey emergency visit to the vet. (To be on the safe side, think about purchasing pet insurance - another regular cost to tally.)

  • The cost of being away from home

If you're going to be away, your pets need looking after. You may have to hire somebody to house sit, or you may need to pay for a boarding service.

If all this sounds financially overwhelming, keep in mind that having a budget can help you prepare for the expected and unexpected costs; plus, smart shopping can help you cut down on expenses. You can use the resources below to discover helpful, financially conscious tips.

- 5 financial tips for raising a pet
- How Much Does Owning a Pet Really Cost?
- Adding up 7 costs of owning a pet