Savings Tip – Planning for a Pet

Adding a pet to your family is a very exciting experience – but it’s important to consider the expense that comes with it to make sure you can afford to give your new pal the care they need. Whether you’re thinking of getting a fish or a cat, a gerbil, or a dog, it’s important to know the approximate cost of the commitment.

Here are a few things to consider before you decide to get a pet:

1) Breeder price or adoption fees: Research the typical cost of the animal you’re hoping to bring home. Usually even shelters have an adoption fee. Make sure to factor in any vaccines, screenings, or surgeries the animal has already had. For example, if you adopt a cat that has already been spayed or neutered, you will save money by avoiding this expense later on, and it may make sense to pay a higher adoption fee up front.

2) Habitat: A fish requires a tank, filter, etc. A dog will require a cage, a bed, bowls, etc. To get an idea of everything your pet may need, visit your local pet store and tally up all the items you will need.

3) Food: Consider what type of food you will feed your pet and how much they eat. Different breeds of dogs eat different amounts of food. It’s usually recommended that kittens eat wet food twice a day, but cats only need wet food once a day. Talk to a local veterinarian to learn what is recommended for the type of animal you’re getting.

4) Veterinary services: Typically, vets have a standard fee just for an appointment, then any shots, tests, and medicine will be an additional cost. Research the type of medical attention your pet will need (for example, outdoor cats have more medical recommendations than indoor cats) and then contact a local vet to learn the cost of each service. The breeder or shelter your animal came from may have taken care of some of their medical needs, but make sure to be clear on what you will be responsible for.

5) Training: Whether you attend a class with your new pup, or hire a private trainer, obedience school can be a significant commitment of both time and money.

6) Life expectancy: Consider how long your pet will be around. Some turtles will live over 100 years, whereas the life expectancy for dogs is around 10-15 years, and cats typically live about 13-17 years. Make sure you are able to take care of your pet for as long as it will live.

7) Pet Insurance: Depending on the age, species, breed and lifestyle (outdoor vs. indoor cat) of the animal you have, pet insurance might be a good way to save money on medical expenses.

8) Housing costs: If you live in an apartment, some landlords will charge an extra fee for having pets. Refer to your lease agreement or ask your landlord if this applies. Some dog shelters require adopters to have fences around their yard depending on the breed of dog in question.

Once you consider the expenses associated with getting a pet, you can customize your budget to the specific type of pet you’re interested in bringing home. The cost varies widely depending on the species of your pet, but once you feel confident that you can take care of an animal, it is time to take the exciting step of searching for your forever friend. A great place to start is

Stay tuned for our follow up article of expenses to consider after you bring home a pet.