Controlling pet care expenses
Much has been written over the years about the total cost of raising children into adulthood and it is, undoubtedly, a very expensive proposition. It’s fair to say that the sum total can look daunting… but have you ever thought about what it could cost to raise a pet from birth through its lifetime?
Prepare, my friends, for sticker shock.
CNBC recently reported on a British pet study that showed the cost of raising a dog from birth through the end of its life could cost more than $42,500. Yikes!
Does that make you want a cat instead? Before you answer, you should know you won’t be getting off much easier.
Cats can cost almost $31,000 over their lifetimes, and the actual total for kitty-care in any given household could be significantly more than a dog-owning household. According to Psychology Today’s analysis of pet survey data from 2013, 52 percent of feline-owning households in the U.S. have more than one cat, compared to only 40 percent of homes with multiple dogs.
According to the British study, a majority of pet owners underestimate lifetime costs rather dramatically, expecting the price tag per pet to range from under $1,300 to a maximum of about $6,500.
Even rabbits can set you back more than $19,000 for a lifetime, but for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll stick to the costs associated with raising dogs and cats, as those two – with a combined population of more than 150 million – represent the vast majority of all pets in America.
The following are a few tips to help you save on expenses.
Purchase pet food on a budget
Many people love their animals as much as if they were their own children and believe that some of the specialty foods available in pet stores are of higher quality and worth the extra expense. That may be right. Or it may not. Before you spring for pet food that might cost double what you would pay for “regular” dog or cat chow, chat with your veterinarian about your pet’s diet.
If your veterinarian indicates your pet can thrive on a non-specialty brand, there are a wide variety of dog and cat food options readily available in grocery stores, but that may not be your best bet. Warehouse clubs may offer savings over what you pay in grocery stores on a per unit basis, but you’ll likely have to buy a larger quantity.
Regardless of which pet food you choose, you may also be able to save by purchasing from online retailers. It’s worth the investment of time to research prices as they can be quite different across multiple sellers.
Veterinary care comparison
Veterinary care costs can vary significantly as vet fees are usually not set through insurance companies in the same manner as human healthcare costs. Before you head to the animal clinic for routine care such as spaying and neutering, annual checkups, emergency care, etc. compare the prices for standard services with a number of vets in your area. Make note of the costs. You may find there is a significant disparity from one doctor to the next.
You might also check local big-box pet retail stores. They may offer veterinary services at discounts over what you might pay at a private practice just to get you into the store. Some may offer specials on routine care that can save you even more.
Pet medications are also an area where you can overpay if you’re not careful. Medicines dispensed by a veterinarian are often brand-name drugs that are usually priced higher than a generic that is different in name only.
Unless the need is immediate, rather than accepting and paying for brand-name prescriptions offered by the vet, check prices against online pet-med retailers. You may be able to save 50 percent or more.
A multitude of other pet expenses
Pet food and vet care only begin to scratch the surface of expenses you will incur in ownership. Over the course of an animal’s lifetime, it’s easy to spend thousands on grooming, boarding, dog houses or kitty condos, beds, dishes, leashes, toys, cages, pet doors, licensing, etc.
Again, shop around for pet accouterments. Prices vary and a little research can help you save enough cash to, well, buy more stuff for your pet!