Can You Afford a Pet?

Sheltie sleeping with her ownerMy dogs are amazing. They bring so much joy into our lives and have since we rescued them.

We rescued our first dog when she was three years old, and she has been with us ever since. She’s 8 now (though we suspect that she’s maybe a year or two older – three years old was a guess by the rescue society), and has been a faithful companion and my fiance’s best friend since the spring of 2009.

Our second rescue dog joined our family just a year and a half ago, at 10 years young. She has been a great addition and a decision that neither of us have regretted for a moment. She’s a great companion for our first fur baby.

Our pets are a big part of our lives, and though I am a huge advocate for animal ownership, there are a few things you have to consider before taking in a pet of your own. The biggest consideration is whether or not you are willing and able to keep a pet for the duration of it’s life, and the second is whether or not you can afford to keep a pet. Usually, the first answer will depend on the second.

Pets are Expensive

Pets are nowhere near as expensive as children, but they certainly come with a price tag. After all, it’s another mouth that you must feed, and body to groom and take care of.

You don’t want to stick your pet with a poor quality of life because you can’t afford to feed them good food, or take them to the vet if they have an issue.

Pets are a Long Term Commitment 

It makes me physically sick to my stomach when people don’t consider their pets a long term commitment. They absolutely are, and it’s unfair (dare I say cruel?) to the animal and the general community if you get a puppy because it’s cute and your kid wants one, and then dump it off at the pound when it poops on the floor or because you “don’t have time” for it.

Pets live for many years – larger dog breeds live up to a decade, cats can live well into their twenties if well taken care of. Be aware that as pets age, just like humans, they require more care. Frequently the care is more expensive care.

You can get pet insurance to cover the cost, but if the conditions are found to the “pre-existing”, the condition won’t be covered. If you are considering getting a younger pet now, realize that it won’t always be young. Research the cost of treatment if a pet gets cancer, or needs dental surgery or extraction. Be prepared.

It’s Not a Matter of Just Feeding It

Pets require more attention than just food and water. You need to spend time with a pet, exercise it, perhaps pay into obedience classes or agility training, work with the pet if it has a health condition or requires rehabilitation.

There are unexpected costs to having a pet, such as realizing it’s unfair to keep a lab in a condo so renting a place with a yard. There’s also equipment that you must buy with a pet, like food dishes, kennels, pet beds, tanks, aquariums or cages,(if the pet isn’t a dog or cat), leashes, harnesses, and toys.

Dogs are intelligent creatures that require stimulation. Breeds are bred the way they are to carry out certain tasks; it’s in the breed’s instinct to do these things. You need to be able to fulfill that part of the pet’s life, too.

These are all things you must be aware of when looking at whether you can afford a pet.

While I think animals are a wonderful source of joy and responsibility, not everyone can afford to have them. Be prepared to spend at least a couple thousand dollars on your pet per year, as they age.

Because pets are a long term commitment, don’t just focus on the cost of the pet at the time you are taking the animal in. Look at the long term cost of the care of the animal so you aren’t in a financial bind when and if your furry friend jumps out of a moving car window and needs stitches (true story).


Can You Afford a Pet? — 14 Comments

  1. I can’t justify the expense of pet ownership, not to mention the complications of pet ownership in the city. I’ve dog sat a few times and it honestly stresses me out cause any time I’m not there, I have to put the dog in it’s cage which means it’s sitting in there for hours.

    • I see where you’re coming from. It’s not really fair to have a pet in the city if you are out of the house for periods of time.

  2. Hey Daisy and thanks for the post 🙂

    Stefanie over at The Broke and Beautiful Life had a similar post this week and like I told her…my cat is also rescued and she had all her shots and was fixed before she entered my life. The only expense I have with her is the cost of her food and her litter which is not really that much at all.

    And yes, I am committed to her for life, and since I do not have any children, she’s like my little girl 🙂

    That being said, I don’t think I would own a dog, since I find they are more expensive and higher maintenance. Plus, life in my small apartment would not be fair to her/him!

    Take care and all the best.


  3. I have a dog and she’s great but it can definitely be a surprise how much a pet costs each month. Food, toys, clothes for winter, treats, dog sitter, blankets, dental cleaning and an annual vet visit to get her shots and it all adds up. I’ve set aside a small amount each month on the monthly budget to account for it and to avoid any surprises

  4. Glad to hear the words of a fellow dog lover. A hearty thank you is needed for anyone who helps rescue a dog. They are indeed expensive and messy, but my parents have recently added a new fury member to our family. She is a border collie puppy and such a delight.

  5. I love dogs and cats but to be honest, I’ve never had one at home. I would love to change it but with our life style, other commitments, working hours and some other crazy things a new family member wouldn’t be happy with us. I hope that one day I will be able to change it but right now the only thing I can do is to contribute to animal shelters and support them.

  6. Pets are expensive, but they really are a part of family. My guinea pig died recently and it was heartbreaking. I’m still really sad but I’m trying to focus on the happy memories to get out of my slump. I’m still debating if I should get a cat or not, but it’s hard to think about right now.

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