9 costs to consider before becoming a pet owner

Have you ever thought about the financial implications of Fluffy?

Who doesn't love a cute puppy face? (Pexels stock image)

Pets are so fun: They’re great companions, they can help you unwind after a stressful day, and in many cases, they’re just plain cute.

Dogs, cats and other animals can bring so much joy to your life, but like children, they’re not cheap -- especially if you care for your pet properly.

Whether you adopt or buy a pet from a store or breeder, there are several costs to consider over the life of your pet. The first one is acquisition cost. You can adopt a dog from a shelter for around $60 to more than $200, depending on the shelter (this usually includes having them spayed/neutered and all their vaccines), but we’ve seen French Bulldog puppies sell through breeders for $7,000.

You want to do your research on breeds, and make sure you get a healthy pet.

But again, there are advantages to having an animal at home.

They can bring such unconditional love and companionship, and of course, all of the funny, cute things they do. The purpose of this article is not to turn you off from owning a pet, but to guide you as to the resources you should have available for a long-term financial commitment.

A dog or cat can have a lifespan of more than 15 years. It’s almost like raising a child to college age.

Many people adopt or buy animals and don’t factor this into their planning. You might not be asking yourself the important questions, such as,

  • What if I have a baby?
  • What if my job forces me to relocate?
  • What if I buy a condo with pet restrictions in the future?

There are sad stories out there involving new babies allergic to pets, or people losing their jobs and having to surrender pets they can no longer afford to care for.

Some costs to think about are:

1. Food and toys

Food can be quite expensive, especially if you have a larger animal. Your pet also may need some toys, a bed, and possibly a crate for training. If you have a cat, you may need to purchase something they can scratch. A couple of toys can easily be $50, a dog bed is about $35, and a cat scratching post is $30 or more, depending on how fancy you want to get.

2. Training costs and property destruction

Puppies like to chew and kittens like to scratch up the furniture. This can be frustrating and costly, especially if the puppy ravages your expensive shoes. The average cost for dog training is about $50 per hour, but obedience training can run from $200 to $600 per week. A private dog trainer can run up to $150 per hour.

3. Pet insurance

If your pet has known health issues based on its breed, it may make sense to either get pet insurance in advance or set aside cash for large vet bills. Pet insurance can range from as low as $10 per month to higher than $100 per month. Keep in mind many insurance companies will exclude “typical” conditions associated with a breed.

4. General liability insurance

Some condo associations require you have liability insurance if you have a pet, in the event it bites or destroys property. This can increase your insurance costs. A colleague said her condo association actually requested an analysis of her dog’s poop so that the culprit can be identified if the poop is not cleaned up!

5. Health/vet bills

These costs can be a wild card, depending on your pet. Dogs need to be treated for heartworm, fleas, etc., periodically.

6. Grooming

This can cost up to $100 per visit, depending on the size of the pet and your location.

7. Travel/pet sitting

If you travel frequently or work outside your home, you will need to factor in the costs of someone taking care of your pet when you are away. Having a dog walker come by during the day can easily cost $20, depending on where you live. You would want to find someone you trust that will not put your pet in danger. Doggy day care can be $25 per day and $40 for overnight. If you travel frequently, these costs can add up quickly.

8. Service animals

Service animals, such as emotional support pets, come with their own fees.

9. Future planning

Many people have trusts set up for their pets. Since your pet is likely part of the family, what if something happens to you? Do you have plans in place for the pet and the financial resources to provide for the pet after you are gone?

Evensky & Katz / Foldes Financial Wealth Management is a firm with more than 35 years of experience that specializes in financial planning and goals-based investment management. Its investment management services include portfolio construction, risk management, manager selection and asset allocation. “The integrity of our advice and commitment to quality client services sets us apart in a crowd,” the group says. Click or tap here to learn more.