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Understand the Cost of Pet Ownership

Owning a pet is a rewarding experience, one that most pet owners would call priceless. But the reality is, everyone has a budget, so it’s important you factor a pet into yours before taking the big plunge. Many potential pet owners get so excited at the idea of a furry friend, they don’t stop to ask, “How much IS that doggy in the window?” No doubt you have the best intentions, but it just isn’t fair to you or the animal if you can’t afford long term care.

Here, we tally up the cost of owning a cat and dog. Take a look to see if this is something you think you can afford. And if it’s not something that is realistic right now, give yourself time to save. After all, we happen to think it’s totally worth it!

Dogs: The first year of your dog will be the most expensive, since you’ll need to stock up on basic supplies like crates, food bowls, toys, beds, etc. Additionally, they’ll require puppy vaccines, as well as neutering if you choose to do so. Add in food costs, and you’re looking at anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 for that first year. One tip to keep costs down is to see if your vet offers any kind of member program. For a yearly fee, you may receive discounts on office visits and shots, and even neutering.

After the first year, your costs will begin to level off, provided your dog remains healthy. Since smaller dogs eat less, it will cost you less to feed a small dog. For example, a small dog is estimated to cost $150 each year to feed, versus a large dog which costs $350. Another thing to keep in mind is grooming. Short hair dogs will require little to no maintenance, whereas a shaggy dog comes with a hefty grooming price tag.

Cats: Cats are less expensive in general to own than dogs, but you should still consider the prices. As with a dog, the first year will be the most expensive. You’ll need to neuter or spay, deworm, and vaccinate, as well as stock up on food, bowls, treats, toys, carriers, and more. The estimated average is roughly $600 to $900. After that, it’s about $300 each year to own your cat.

Final tip: Whether you own a cat or dog, it’s crucial you plan for unexpected medical costs. It’s impossible to know whether your cat or dog will remain healthy, and vet costs can quickly add up. Research some insurance plans, though many argue this can cost more than it’s worth. At the very least, set aside $50 each month for medical emergencies. In the unfortunate chance you pet falls ill, you will be very happy to have a medical fund—especially since most of us consider our pets another part of the family!