February 01, 2022 · Budget, Credit, Insurance, Savings

Preparing for the Costs of a New Pet

During the pandemic years of 2020-2021, with many people quarantining and working from home, there was an initial surge in pet adoptions, and then, months later, there was increased intake at animal shelters of abandoned pets, as owners realized they didn’t have the time, effort, or money available to meet the many needs of their new companion. Having a close, nurturing relationship with a pet requires investments of many kinds, including emotional and financial.

If you’re considering adding a pet to your family, it’s important to invest time in understanding both the upfront and ongoing costs of keeping your new family member happy and healthy so you both can enjoy your life together. The amount and type of pet ownership costs can range from less than $10 for a simple toy for play time to thousands of dollars in complex veterinary care and ongoing treatment and medications for an ailing pet. You should know and fully consider the entire range of beginning and upkeep costs as you prepare for pet ownership.

There is a long list of potential pet costs

Here are just some potential pet costs to consider, depending on whether the creature you want to adopt crawls, walks, flies, hops, climbs, burrows, slithers or swims:

  • One-time adoption and registration fees—With animals adopted from pet stores, shelters, or purchased from breeders, it’s likely you’ll have adoption fees and, depending on the type of creature, you may be required to register it with your local county or city government. Buying an animal from a breeder can run well above $1,000.
  • Annual registration renewals—Depending on your pet, it may be necessary to annually renew its local government registration for a fee.
  • Identification tags—Whether it’s a dog tag or another type of tag for a different type of animal, it can be extremely helpful to have it wear a tag, which is especially important if the beast is separated from you and becomes lost. These tags might be required by the local government.
  • Location-tracking collar or tag and supporting service—New technology has allowed tracking collars or a tag that your pet can wear that allow them to be tracked via wi-fi on cellphone apps or a web browser. The tracking hardware often uses a tracking service that requires monthly or annual fees.
  • Identity microchipping—Certain animals may now get a tiny microchip inserted under their skin that allows them to be identified if they are lost. If the found pet is turned into a shelter or local government animal control, scanning the animal can reveal the chip and its information and help reunite the lost pet with its owner. Owners may have their animal microchipped for considerably less than a $100, and the microchipping may include automatic registration in a national pet recovery database. If your pet came from an animal shelter or a breeder, then it may already have a microchip implanted under its skin.
  • One-time fee to spay or neuter your petSpaying and neutering both prevents unwanted reproduction from your pet and may moderate some aggressive or other undesired behaviors.
  • Veterinary check-ups and care for injuries and illnesses—Veterinary (“vet”) visits are an essential part of pet care, and this cost continues through the life of the creature. Regular vet visits may include check-ups, vaccinations, dental care and other health maintenance. Keep in mind that vet bills for urgent and ongoing care can get into thousands dollars, which is why it may be worth considering buying a pet insurance policy.
  • Medications—Whether for illness, allergies, or to calm down, it’s usual for pets to need medicine at some point in their life.
  • Health insurance—Health insurance is one expense that may pay for itself by covering some of the costs of medical care for an ailing pet. As with any insurance, compare policies carefully to see the limits of coverage and what’s excluded in the policy. Through our wholly owned subsidiary, Members Insurance Advisors, Delta Community offers pet insurance for its members.
  • Food and treats—Whether it’s wet canned or dry food—or live crickets—food is a continuous cost. Some pets may require specialized or prescription food which can be rather pricey.
  • Cages, tanks, aquariums, interior door barriers or outdoor fencing—Not all pets can roam at will through a home or yard. They may need either a full or part-time environment to contain them, such as a cage for birds, an aquarium for fish (and other aquatic or semi-aquatic) creatures, or a cage/crate for a dog to sleep in. These pet environments may require periodic cleaning, either just a basic washing out, such as with a crate, or the more in-depth cleaning required of a more complicated pet enclosure, such as an aquarium.
  • Bedding—Some animals may benefit from (or just enjoy) a bed designed for them that also keeps them off of the floor, bed or couch.
  • Grooming equipment or services—Combs, claw clippers, electric trimmers, brushes, and shampoo are a few of the personal grooming items a pet may need. Instead of grooming the animal themselves, some owners may take them to a professional groomer, or have a mobile grooming service come to their home to groom their loved one.
  • Toys—Some pets need a variety of activities to enrich their lives, such as playing with toys, either with their owners or by themselves. A scratching post, a swing, treadmill wheel, balls, chew toys, or tubes to crawl through can be fun and interesting for your animal friend.
  • Repairs to damaged floors, furniture, clothing, and other possessions—Scratched wood and chewed furniture upholstery, towels, blankets, clothing, shoes etc., are a normal part of pet ownership, so be prepared to fund repairs, replacements, protective coverings or devices such as door barriers.
  • Pet sitters, walkers or feeders—If you won’t be home for a day or longer, you may need a neighbor, friend, or a paid service provider to look after your animal loved one in your absence.
  • Pet daycare hotel, either while at work or during trips—For daily care or longer absences, a stay at a pet care hotel may be a better choice than in-home care, especially if your pet enjoys the company of other animals. Some pet care facilities have cameras that let you see your pet online on a computer or on your smart phone.

Before entering into the responsibilities of having a pet, be certain that you’re well-prepared to take care of it as you begin the relationship—both physically, emotionally, and financially. There is a saying that you can’t put a price on love, but you can invest in it. Pets bring enormous fun and joy to our lives, so plan to invest in yours.