If your household is one of the many, many homes in the United States that acquired a pet this year, did you run any calculations on pet ownership? Like any other member of the family that new dog or cat will need to be taken care of. In this article we will help you budget for the new member of your family.
Understanding the Cost of Dog Ownership
If you welcomed a puppy and kitten into your household this Christmas they will already have grown noticeably. In fact, they have probably doubled in size already and you may also notice that they have pretty ferocious appetites for their small size. The costs of feeding your pet and giving it the care it deserves can add up pretty quickly so the sooner you start factoring these costs into your monthly budget the better.
If the new addition to your family is a small animal such as a rabbit or a hamster, then it certainly won’t break the bank. However, dogs, and even cats, can be notoriously expensive.
Dogs are hugely popular at Christmas and now that you are into the New Year the true cost of keeping one is probably becoming apparent. It is probably still a puppy now, but towards the end of this year it will be fully grown and will be much harder to control. For this reason you should start saving towards the cost of dog training. This can be quite expensive but it is well worth it for the peace of mind it gives, especially if it is a large dog. You can rest assured that it will do what its told, and it will be much less likely to run away or cause damage or injury.
Prices for dog training vary, but as a rough guide four weeks of training will cost in the region of $2,000. This would usually consist of two hours training a day, five days a week for four weeks. This should be enough to have an average dog very well trained. If you feel this is above your budget you should at the very least buy a good dog-training book. A good dog-training book shouldn’t cost you much more than $20 or $30.
Training is a once-off cost. More important is preparing for the monthly costs of keeping an animal. It is estimated that an average dog will cost somewhere in the region of $12,000 dollars to keep over a 12-year life to feed. This does not take into account vet bills, medicine, toys, and other equipment such as kennels. In reality, you should be setting aside about $2,000 every year to keep a dog healthy and happy. Cats will be a little cheaper, but not significantly, at about $1,400 per year.
These estimates cover basic costs. However, owning a pet can get just about as expensive as you want to make it. If you want to dress your dog up in designer outfits then prepare to pay the price. Also, if you travel you may need to pay for a pet passport, micro-chipping, quarantine and other costs.
Another thing you may want to consider is pet insurance. This needn’t be expensive and will cover costs if your pet becomes ill or is stolen. If you have had a pet for a while you will be well aware that those vet bills soon add up so it could save you money in the long run.
Pet insurance policies can vary significantly both in terms of cost and quality, but for the most part you get what you pay for. Be sure to read the small print so you know exactly what you are or are not getting. A basic policy that covers illness should be quite cheap, but you may be offered all manner of optional extras. Some policies will cover the costs of advertising and a reward if a pet is lost or stolen. Others, will even cover the cost of counseling for family members if the pet dies or is lost.
So, if you got a dog this year you should be at least setting aside about $200 dollars a month if you really want to look after it well. This is a significant extra cost on top of your normal monthly budget. However, when you think of the fun and happiness the new member of the family will bring to your home it is money well spent.