A few things are true: Pets are loyal, adorable companions. They become our best friends. They are part of the family. And they can also be expensive. Considering you’ll be committed to your furry best friend for at least a decade, and they will bring so much joy to your life, you also need to prepare for the various costs that will keep them happy and healthy. In addition to the types of expenses you anticipate — food, shelter, toys, grooming — they may also ring up expensive boarding costs when you travel, or expensive vet visits when health concerns arise.
If you don’t have pet insurance for pet emergencies and preventive care, then you may be looking at even more of a burden for your wallet. We’re breaking down the top six biggest pet expenses to plan for — and why pet insurance is a super-smart investment for any pet parent.
The First Year
Think back to the last time you moved — what did you spend? Probably more than you anticipated, from the down payment/security deposit to boxes, movers, and new household items you needed. Just like the first year in a new place is the most expensive, the same is often true with getting a pet. When you first bring home your furry pal, you’ll need to stock up on their essential supplies, like food bowls, toys, collars/leash, a bed and so on. And, you’ll also visit the vet more times than you can count.
As veterinarian Brittany Kleszynski, DVM explains, initial veterinary costs include:
- The vaccination series.
- Microchipping and parasite screenings.
- The corresponding office visit and exam fees.
- The spay and neuter surgery.
“These costs are very common and should be planned for to meet a pet’s basic needs and ensure good health,” she says.
So, what happens after that first year? Your pet will see their vet less often, but they will still require ongoing budget items to stay healthy. As veterinarian Maria Botinas, the medical director for IndeVets in Florida, explains, pet parents can prevent certain diseases and lengthen their pet’s life through routine preventive care. Some examples are heartworm and flea/tick prevention, vaccinations, intestinal parasite coverage and more. You should also talk to your vet about annual blood work, so they can watch for trends and catch diseases earlier, she adds.
In addition to vet visits, investing in high-quality pet food, investing in routine grooming and teeth cleaning all play a factor in health maintenance.
Even if you take excellent care of your dog or cat and give them all the love and protection in the world, emergencies still happen. You can’t control all variables, and that’s okay — but you need to prepare for the financial requirement of a late-night or last-minute vet visit.
“Accidents happen, and most pets are seen for an emergency at some point throughout their lifetime. Illness, trauma, broken bones, and foreign object ingestion are just a few of the emergencies that veterinarians see commonly,” Dr. Kleszynski says. “Costs for these emergencies can quickly add up and may include emergency exam fees, diagnostic testing, imaging services, surgery costs, and intensive care.”
Chronic Disease Management
The first year of a pet’s life is expensive — and so are the last ones. Animals are more likely to develop diseases and certain conditions as they age. Also, certain breeds may have a likelihood of various disorders based on their genes. Doing ample research before deciding on a new four-legged family member will help you prepare for the financial burdens that may arise. Talk to your vet about ongoing expenses from kidney and heart disease to endocrine disorders.
“These diseases require long-term management after diagnosis. Follow-up office visits, necessary medications, special diets, and diagnostic monitoring are necessary and can be costly,” she says. “Chronic conditions affect most geriatric pets, so it is an expense to plan for even when your pets are young.”
Maybe you’ve always dreamt of a large-breed dog who will go on runs with you. Or you just love the adorable goofiness and loyalty of a golden retriever. While you may love having your pet at home most of the year, what happens when you want to travel? If your dog can’t go on the plane with you, or if you’re leaving your cat for more than a few days, you’ll need to hire a sitter to care for them. Over their lifetime, this can add up, especially if you travel frequently or work outside of the home, making dog walks necessary. Try to factor in the overall monthly and annual cost for this care so you aren’t caught with any surprises, recommends Lauren Anastasio, a certified financial planner and the director of financial advice at Stash.
So how can you save money on pet expenses? By investing in their healthcare to the same degree you invest in your own, with health insurance. Not only is pet insurance easy to sign up for, it’s also affordable and a way to remove some of the stress of unexpected expenses. By knowing you’re covered, you’re also more likely to head to the vet — since it won’t break your bank — thus, helping your pet to live a longer and healthier life.
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