Can you afford a pet? Here's how much it really costs to be a proud cat lady or doggie dad.
Now that you've locked down your job and found a sweet place to live, you may be thinking it's time to start a family. No, not that kind of family. We're talking about becoming a proud pet parent.
Among Americans in their 30s, three out of four have a dog compared with just half of the U.S. population as a whole, according to a Mintel survey. Cats are popular too, with just over half of all thirtysomethings saying they share their home with a feline companion.
But before you head to the pet shelter and fall in love with the mutt of your dreams, you might want to consider the costs of pet ownership.
Even if you opt for a rescue pet over a pure breed, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that your first-year total costs will run anywhere from $1,471 to $2,008 for a dog — to $1,174 for a cat.
And that's just for the basics like food, kitty litter, grooming supplies and spaying and neutering fees. Add in extras like pet boarding and cat sitting while you're on vacation, and you could wind up paying hundreds more a year.
Start with the upfront adoption costs.
Adopting a rescue pet costs anywhere from $25 to $300, Money reports. Younger animals, including kittens and puppies, are in higher demand than older animals and tend to more expensive as are breed-specific rescues.
If you buy from a breeder, expect to spend much more. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, for example, runs anywhere from $1,800 to $3,500, according to Forever Guardians of the Cavalier. A Russian Blue cat, on the other hand, will set you back anywhere from $400 to $600, according to Cat Breed List.
To find out how much the animal you are interested in might cost just to bring home, contact your local pet shelter or email owners on PetFinder.
Make sure your pet is spayed or neutered and has all the right shots.
Adorable kitty eyes and sweet puppy breath can be really tempting, but younger animals typically come with a lot of extra expenses.
Some shelters and rescue groups won't release a pet to its new owners unless the animal has been spayed or neutered, or unless the owner signs a contract to get the animal fixed. Breeders may also require you spay or neuter your pets so you don't become a competitor.
Petfinder indicates spay and neuter surgeries typically cost around $200. However, you can sometimes find low-cost spay and neuter clinics. The ASPCA has a database to find a clinic in your area.
While going to a clinic can lower your cost, spaying and neutering is still an operation. You are going to have to pay for a doctor's time, anesthesia and other basic fees, like the cost of a cone so your pet does not chew the stitches. Shop around in your area, as costs can vary significantly.
Young pets also need an initial series of vaccinations. You can expect to spend around $70 for a dog, and $130 for a cat, including rabies vaccine, according to ASPCA estimates.
While you can find low-cost vaccination clinics in most areas, be sure your pet is vaccinated by someone who is licensed and can give you the proper tags and certifications.
Speaking of licensing, you may also need to get a license for your pet, depending on the state where you live. Expect to spend $10 to $20.
Making your animal feel at home.
Before you bring you even bring your animal in the door, you'll need a few supplies, like a carrier or crate ($5 - $90), a kitty litter box ($5 - $35), cat litter ($10 for a 25-lb. bag) and a leash and collar for a dog ($5 - $25). And of course pet food, which will set you back anywhere from $200 to $400 a year.
You'll need all that at the bare minimum. But you may also spring for a pet bed ($10 - $100), toys ($1 - $45 each), a scratching post for a cat ($15 - $125) and a trainer's time to help your new pup behave ($30- $100/hr).
Even brushes can be expensive, ranging from around $8 for a simple cat comb to around $42.99 for a Furminator de-shedding tool.
Of course, these prices are subject to change — and may vary depending on where you live. But it all adds up.
Routine care to keep your pooch or cat healthy and happy.
But wait, there's more! Routine checkups can help nip health problems in the bud and extend your pet's life.
The American Kennel Club warns you will spend around $650 per year on vet visits, if your pet suffers an average of one serious illness annually. Cats are cheaper, with annual costs for routine exams estimated at around $150. Costs tend to be higher for older pets.
A heartworm test is usually part of your pet’s annual exam. If it’s negative, you’ll pay anywhere from $25 to $60. If it comes out positive, you’ll pay as much as $300 to $350 for lab tests and radiographs.
Pet insurance will protect your pet (and your wallet) from big medical expenses. The ASPCA estimates these costs at $175 to $225 per year, depending on your pet's age and the insurance you get.
Should you take the leap?
It's hard to put a price on pet ownership when puppy kisses and kitty purrs are priceless. Still, you don't want to take on the costs of pet care if you can't commit or if your pet will prevent you from being financially secure.
So do the math before you make the leap.
As any pet owner will tell you, chances are you'll be more than happy to pay for your pet — even if you wind up spending more than you imagined.
Feb. 14, 2017, 1:00 p.m. Eastern: This story has been updated.
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