Owning and caring for a pet can be a very rewarding experience. The love, affection and joy our pets bring into our lives make all of the care they need worth it. But taking care of a pet is a big responsibility —and one that comes with financial obligations. Have you ensured that you are prepared to meet the expenses of your pet’s care?
The cost of routine care and preventative care are fairly easy to calculate. Most veterinary offices have a price guide showing how much you are going to spend on puppy/kitten vaccines, and they can offer you a close estimate on what you may spend on annual parasite control. A few minutes spent with a calculator can get you close on those numbers so you can budget accordingly and plan ahead. Certain breeds are prone to different illnesses and allergies and will likely require more routine care. Be sure to research your desired breed and make sure you are committed to the long-term care some will require.
Food is another cost that needs to be considered. Your options are just about endless, from homemade raw food diets to thousands of commercial brands. Regardless of which you choose, there will be costs associated with feeding your pets. As I tell my clients often: the most expensive food may not be the best food, but the cheapest is probably competing for the worst.
Boarding and grooming costs also will come into the picture at some point in time. Certain breeds of dogs and cats require regular grooming not only for aesthetic reasons, but for health reasons. Baths and grooms can range anywhere from $35 to over $100 per session. Boarding prices vary just like hotel prices. With add-ons like play times, private rooms, custom bedding and custom treats, the cost of boarding can add up rather quickly.
The unexpected trips to your veterinarian or the ER are where I see most people struggle financially. It is difficult to budget for these types of visits because you just never know what you are going to face. Unlike routine care, these scenarios do not come with set, predictable costs. Prices to treat emergencies depend on their severity, the type of injury/illness and the duration of treatment. We always recommend budgeting an emergency fund for these situations. Other options include using Care Credit and pet insurance.
Pet insurance is gaining in popularity. We don’t recommend one company over another, as we do not deal directly with the insurance companies (the clients do). (To research options yourself, visit www.petinsurance.com or www.petinsurancereview.com). Most plans seem to be comparable and rather equal across the board. Care Credit functions a bit differently. It is a health care credit card that is used and accepted at dental offices, doctors’ offices, as well as veterinary hospitals. Depending on the amount of the invoice, you will have anywhere from 3 months to a year to pay it off interest-free. Not all veterinarians accept Care Credit, so make sure your veterinarian and any emergency clinics accept it before applying.
Some of the most difficult conversation we have with clients are about finances. We wish we could give away care and medicine, but unfortunately we can’t. Difficult and stressful situations can be less so with some forethought and budgeting for those rainy days.