September 30, 2008

What do pets cost?

The cost of owning a pet can be quite a bit. There are a lot of people out there who don't realize exactly how much a pet can cost. Vet bills can run several thousand dollars if theres a serious injury or ailment. This is a topic that Free Money Finance has covered numerous times with several discussions on the potential high costs of pets. FMF has numerous examples of high bills from pets. The main thing about the costs of pets is that people should be aware of the costs before getting a pet. Its more than a bag of dog or cat food every month or two.

But what does it really cost to own a pet? I think the answer really depends a lot on how much you want to spend.
Its like answering how much does a car cost? Well it depends on if you buy a used economy car or a brand new luxury car. You could buy your cat a 16 bag of Friskies for $12 to cover 2 months food at about $6 a month, or you could buy individual 3 oz. cans of Newmans own organic cat food at $1.49 a pop for almost $45 a month. So your food costs for a cat could range from $72 to $540 annually.

While there may be no single answer about how much a pet costs, you should be aware of the potential expenses and account for it in your budget.

There are some sites that estimate expenses that can be used as a reference:

The Raising Spot website estimates that the annual cost of raising a dog is :
"For the first year of ownership, dogs cost anywhere from $660 to $5,270 or more." and then later years "The yearly cost can start at $360 and rise to $2,520 or more." That is a fairly broad range of costs. Some people spend little over food while others spend thousands a year on various things.

SPCA has a page with estimates of annual costs for various pets. They say the annual cost for a dog is $1071 per year. That falls into the middle of the figures that the Raising Spot site gave. (note that the SPCA site is in Canada and those might be Canadian dollars)

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, in 2007 the mean annual expenditure on vet bills per cat was $81 and for dogs $200.

So that can give you an idea of what costs might be. What you should do is identify the expenses associated with a pet and then make sure they are accounted for in your budget. Make sure to consider the possibility of a large veterinary bill if your pet falls ill or is injured so that way you won't run into a big surprise.

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