3 Ways to Lower the Cost of Pet Ownership

Pet costs are one of those things that tend to blindsight you when you least expect them. You go to the adoption center or breeder, find a really cute kitty or puppy, and bring them home, half expecting them to take care of themselves.

But the reality of pet care is very different. Several months ago, I discussed the potential amount of money you can expect to spend on a dog during its lifetime. How can we effectively deal with a cost like $16,000 in our day-to-day budgets? Today’s post attempts to give you some pointers.

Here are three simple considerations to proactively deal with your pet costs before they drag you into the proverbial financial gutter.

1. Invest in Prevention

No one has to tell you that preventative care is the best way to ensure that something continues to “produce” or in the case of our own body or that of our pet – live, and live healthy.

A lot of people don’t care about preventative care because the U.S. health care system has taught them, intuitively and via financial restrictions and motivations, that you don’t treat something until it becomes a problem. But deep down, you know that preventative care is the right thing to do – after all, most of the deaths in this country are caused by lifestyle choices, not random diseases.

So if you agree with that, why stop at yourself? Invest the same care in your four-legged friend and he’ll reward you with a long, long life.

Here’s just a short list of what you can do:

  • Make sure you take your pet for yearly vet checkups.
  • Treat your pet for fleas, ticks, heartworm, and anything else your vet recomments.
  • Buy pet food with sufficient healthy ingredients.
  • Exercise your pet and make sure it’s getting plenty of play time (especially dogs!).
  • Groom and care for your pet’s skin.

2. Purchase Pet Insurance

The high cost of medical care for pets has given rise to the pet insurance industry. While I’m not advocating adding yet another elective expense to your budget, many people may find that pet insurance is the best option for protecting themselves from unexpected medical costs.

If you’re committed to shelling out for whatever reasonable care your dog needs to stay alive, you need to be ready to cover some major expenses. Otherwise, I would suggest looking at pet insurance. Plans are affordable and may be your best option. Here are a few of the major players:

3. Use a Yearly Budget

Pets are an ideal example of an irregular expense. They are pretty much impossible to budget for on any time period less than one year, because that’s usually how often they go to the vet for a check-up.

Any successful pet budget will therefore take a yearly look at what kinds of things we have to spend our money on, and then average out that cost over the length of the year.

Let’s take a quick look at the types of expenses you’re likely to encouter:

  • Replacement of bedding
  • Classes or “puppy day care”
  • Veterinary care – regular and emergency
  • Pet insurance
  • Foods and treats
  • Toys and accessories
  • Grooming
  • Boarding
  • Litter for cats

If a large expense, like your yearly checkup or the sudden necessity for a flea bomb comes calling without being prepared, it can be quite a hit to your monthly budget.

Instead, add all the yearly planned expenses, adjust for unexpected spending, and average the amount over 12 months. Then save that amount in a special fund or envelope, whether you use it all or not. You may also have to “pre-load” your dog fund with a few month’s worth of allowance, in case some big purchases are coming up.

Expect The Unexpected

No matter what, these three strategies won’t protect you from everything that can go wrong with your pet. But they will go a long way to making sure that you’re not caught with your financial pants down and can adequately care for man’s best friend.

Photo by fazen

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