How to Budget for Your Pet
Don't let the excitement of pet adoption overshadow the responsibility.
That adorable, fuzzy face at the animal shelter needs you as much as you need him. He'll give you years of love and devotion, plenty of laughs, and perhaps some heartache, too. That's all part of bringing a pet into your home.
Whether you consider it adoption of a new family member or pet ownership, once you bring a furry companion into your life, he's completely dependent on you. It's easy to overlook all of the responsibility that goes into pet adoption when those sweet little eyes beg, "Please pick me!" But the realities become clear soon after you bring that new friend home.
Some Responsibilities are Simple, Daily Care
Your new pet obviously needs food and water. But he'll also need toys to keep him occupied when you can't play. If you haven't priced a dog toy lately, you might be surprised. And if you plan to feed your new friend the best food available, expect to spend more than $30 for one bag.
Treats are another expense. Just like you may enjoy the occasional cookie, Spot will probably look forward to a treat made especially for him. Pet sitting also deserves some thought. Chances are you'll take a trip once in a while, so don't forget to budget for kennel care or a pet sitter.
If your pet is a dog, he'll need a durable leash and a collar or harness for walks. Playtime is exercise, but walks combine exercise with discipline lessons. As he gets older, he'll need a new collar or harness to fit his growing body.
Checkups are part of pet ownership.
Vet Visits aren't Optional
Just as you visit your doctor for yearly checkups, pets need to visit the vet regularly for teeth cleaning, checkups, vaccinations, and flea and tick medication. In most areas, vaccinations are mandatory. This is especially true for rabies. Vet bills aren't cheap. There are pet insurance plans that help cover medical costs, so it's smart to check into health care plans for your pet, and find a vet that accepts the insurance you pick.
Unfortunately, not all animals are healthy. Some chronic conditions are evident at birth, but others don't emerge until one or more years have passed. If your pet suffers from a condition such as a flea allergy, he'll need better than average care. For flea allergies, ramped up flea protection is a requirement, and he may also need extra vet visits if an allergy flareup turns into a skin infection. There are many chronic conditions that may appear as your pet grows, and you'll need the financial ability to provide the care he needs.
Pet Adoption is a Lifetime Commitment
It's hard to imagine that tiny ball of fluff as an elderly pet with gray around his nose and a slower gait. But when you adopt a pet, it's a promise to take care of him for life. Sadly, most pets don't have the same life expectancy as humans, so you'll need to plan on special elderly care for your furry companion.
Older dogs often develop problems such as sore joints, vision loss, and incontinence. Other, more serious health issues may appear, such as life-threatening disease. Treatments for elderly dogs can be very expensive, and your budget should include savings to take care of your best friend.
When you see that adorable little face and can't wait to bring him home, stop and consider the responsibility you're taking on. He will depend on you his whole life. Adding a pet savings plan to your budget helps ensure the best care, and the longest life he can get.
Mint.com has flexible budget software that lets you add new savings goals any time you like. If a trip to the animal shelter ends with a barking or meowing friend in the back seat of your car, you can start planning for his lifetime of care as soon as you get home.
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