If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ve probably figured out that I am pretty crazy about my dog. He’s basically one of my favorite things ever. He makes me happy and I love him.
Besides the general joy and silliness that animals can bring to our human lives, sharing my home with another creature has taught me so much about patience and love. An animal’s love is absolutely unconditional and they rely on us for everything. I feel closer to all animals and nature in general from sharing my life with pets.
In addition, pets are proven to provide several health benefits to their owners. They lower our blood pressure (that is, when they are not maniacally barking at squirrels and mailmen…). They also provide companionship for elderly folks who might otherwise be all alone. Therapy dogs help sick children in hospitals and may encourage them to heal.
A while back on a frugality blog, the topic of pets came up and the consensus was that they are not frugal. Some people choose not to have pets for this reason. And honestly, it’s true. Pets are very expensive.
Despite the cost, pets are an unfrugal expense I plan to always have. The trick is to prepare for the cost and commit to taking the costs on when you bring a pet into your home. If the benefits do not outweigh the costs for you, do not become a pet owner! The saddest thing for pets is neglect and abandonment.
Here are some of the costs you should be prepared for. I’m using the example of a dog because I have the most experience with dogs. Other pets are probably more frugal.
- The initial cost of the pet. Even if you adopt a shelter dog, you will most likely pay an adoption fee. If you get a dog for “free,” it may work out well for you. Or you may need to plan on spending more in the other categories (such as vets bills and training).
- Food. Depending on how big your dog is and how fancy you want to get, this could run anywhere from $10 a month to well over $100.
- Vet care. There is no way around it. Vet care is expensive. Even routine vaccines and check-ups add up. And, you will want to have your dog spayed or neutered.
- Training. Either books or classes. All owners should do basic obedience training with their dogs, for the sake of the animal and the humans.
- Toys and bedding. You can spend as much or as little as you want with this, but factor in at least some expense. If you plan to crate train (a good idea!) you’ll need to purchase a crate. Depending on the size of the dog you might pay $30 to over $100 for the proper crate.
- Boarding. If you travel, someone has to watch your dog. Whether you hire someone to come to your home or you board at a kennel, it adds up. You may be able to trade favors with a friend or neighbor depending on your dog and your situation.
- Flea and heartworm control. Most dogs need regular flea and heartworm control. The safe, effective, prescription kind will run about $200 a year for both.
- Grooming. Depending on the breed, and the amount of time you want to devote to grooming, you may have to pay for this service. I brush and bathe my little Schnauzer, but he does need to go to the groomer for a proper haircut every 8-12 weeks. It costs about $40 each time.
So, to all you pet owners out there: what do you love best about your pets? And do share any money-saving tips you know for pet care.