People often ask me how much it costs to keep a pet. While a goldfish will cost much less than a horse, there are common aspects of pet ownership that keep your pet as healthy as possible, and it helps to budget for these costs.
Most of the animals who visit our vet clinic are dogs and cats, but we also treat companion horses, rabbits, guinea pigs, goldfish and lizards. If you are thinking about getting a pet, you need to consider the size of the animal, as well as its health and physical needs.
For example, a Border Collie has a lot of energy and requires a larger backyard and more frequent walks than a Chihuahua. Also, feeding requirements and ongoing maintenance, such as grooming, will vary.
Before purchasing your new furry friend, do as much research as you can to ensure your pet will be an affordable long-term member of your family.
Every animal has basic health requirements that you need to meet, and it’s important to understand these before bringing your pet home. For example, lizards require insects for their meals and a UV lamp to keep them healthy, whereas cats and dogs need preventative vaccines and worming products, as well as grooming.
Ask staff at your local vet clinic about the particular requirements your chosen pet may have, and what costs are involved, so you can work out a budget. Common requirements are:
worming, flea and tick prevention
good quality food
grooming, such as nail trims, and coat and skin care
bedding and interactive toys
Sometimes owners don’t think to allow for special or unexpected circumstances that inevitably come with owning a pet. We often see Pugs and Bulldogs requiring specialist surgery to open their airways, or long-haired cats who need to receive regular hairball treatment and medications.
It is also important to remember that, just like humans, animals have episodes of illness or injury that require medication, diagnostics or even surgery, and these can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
When choosing your pet, make sure you think about the individual requirements of each breed or type of pet. If you’re considering a special breed, you will need to budget for a potential surgery or long-term medication. No matter what type of animal or breed you plan to bring into your family, it’s wise to plan to put about $20–$50 per month into a ‘just-in-case’ fund, although hopefully you won’t often have to draw on these savings.
A great area to research when it comes to budgeting is pet insurance. This can be a lifesaver for pet owners when it comes to large, unexpected vet costs. There is a growing number of pet insurance providers that can offer peace of mind, with costs ranging from $14–$50 per month, depending on the animal and breed.
Whether you have a rabbit or a dog, every pet needs love, attention and entertainment, so you need to make sure that you will have enough time to spend with your new family member. Buying a pet that requires a lot of exercise won’t suit an owner who works long hours.
There are some wonderful pet services available to pet owners, such as doggy day care, dog walkers and in-home carers. While people who run these services can look after some aspects of your pet’s social, physical and emotional needs, your pet also needs time with you each day. ■