When you welcome a pet into your life, your upfront cost can vary. You can spend several thousand dollars for a pedigree dog, or a few hundred dollars for a rescue pet, or even nothing at all for a giveaway animal from a classified ad. No matter what purchase price you pay, there will be ongoing expenses to keep your pet physically and mentally healthy. This means that even a freebie pet will end up costing you some serious coin. Let’s look at what you will need to budget when you welcome this new family member.
This is a constant expense and varies with the breed and size of your pet. Obviously, a large dog will cost more to feed than a cat or a bird. There may be a need for a specific type of diet that can cost even more; one example is a puppy formula for large-breed puppies that controls growth rate to help reduce the risk of orthopaedic conditions. It is important to choose a good-quality, nutritionally balanced food to avoid nutritional deficiencies and excesses, especially in growing animals. Speak with your veterinarian about the best food for your pet and their life stage.
Routine Health Care
This is usually costlier for puppies and kittens because you have to cover the cost of frequent worming treatments, multiple vaccinations and then neutering. The maintenance costs for adult dogs and cats are lower, but they still need regular parasite control and you do need to be prepared for unexpected illnesses and injuries. This is where pet insurance can be very useful, but the monthly or yearly premiums have to be factored into your pet expense budget. Small pets such as rats or birds also need regular parasite treatment; if they become unwell, you might have to find a specialist vet to care for them.
Grooming and Training
These costs vary widely depending on the type of pet you have. All dogs benefit from puppy pre-school and ongoing training, as it can help to prevent challenging behavior problems later in life. Some breeds of dogs need to be clipped regularly, but you can save by learning to do this yourself. You will pay the initial purchase price of a good set of clippers, but they will save you a lot more over the life of your dog. Long-coated cats may at times need to be clipped if their fur becomes matted. Keep in mind that if your puss is fidgety, you might find you need to cover the cost of sedation at your local vet clinic for grooming.
Toys and Accessories
This is where you can have more control over how much your pet costs. Nevertheless, for all pets, even small ones, environmental enrichment is essential. For your dog, you will need a leash and collar for walking, and perhaps a ball to chase. For birds and small mammals, playthings and chew treats can keep their cage interesting and alleviate boredom. Cats also like a game, and will appreciate the opportunity to chase and pounce on a toy. Giving your pet the opportunity to express their natural behaviors, such as prey behavior in dogs and cats, is very important.
It’s plain to see that the purchase price of your pet is the least of your expenses and there really is no such thing as a free animal. However, the physical and emotional benefits of having a pet in your life far outweigh the costs.