Seventy percent of American households include at least one pet. There are dog families, cat families and there are some “blended” families. If you don’t have a strategy to save money on pet care, you can easily go broke.
According to the American Pet Products Association, total spending on pet care in 2018 was more than $72 billion. The estimate for 2019 is over $73 billion.
A TD Ameritrade survey found that millennial dog owners spent around $1,285 on their dogs and $915 on their cats in 2018.
The National Retail Federation reported that Americans were expected to spend around $866 million on Valentine’s Day presents for their pets.
Pet care is a huge market, a fact not lost on the retail industry. Before you decide to get a pet make sure you know all the costs involved. If you already have pets, look for ways to save money on pet care.
You Need a Budget
Yes, a budget is imperative no matter what you are doing. Without a budget, you will have no idea where your money is going. Without these pieces of information, you will never know if you are making progress toward your financial goals. Include pet care in your budget.
How Much Should You Budget?
If you already have pets, you can use last year’s budget as a measure.
- What did you spend last year?
- Are your circumstances the same?
- Do you still have the same dogs and/or cats?
- Are they seniors now? Senior food costs more. Plus you can expect more trips to the veterinarian.
If you are considering adding a pet to your family, then let’s look at typical expenditures.
According to the ASPCA, you can expect to pay more than $1000 during the first year of pet ownership. The initial costs include more than the adoption fee (unless you adopt for free).
Here’s a typical list of expenses for first-time cat and dog owners.
- Initial medical exam ($70 – $130)
- Spaying or Neutering ($145 – $200)
- Equipment (litter box and a scratching post for cats, carrying crate, collars, leash, etc.) (approximately $145)
- Training: If you have a dog, you may want to join a training class. ($110)
Then, on an annual basis you have:
- Pet food
- Cat litter
- Flea & Heartworm control
- Annual license
- Toys and treats
- Annual wellness checkups (and shots)
- Miscellaneous stuff
On average, the ASPCA calculates that you can expect to spend $705 for a cat and $695 for a dog.
Don’t forget about the hidden costs of pet care. For instance:
- Pet boarding if you want to travel (or a house sitter for your feline babies).
- Can you walk your dog yourself? If not, you’ll need a dog walker.
- Injuries, which require you to make a trip to the animal emergency room.
- And of course, there is the potential destruction of property that your new puppy might do, requiring you to replace furniture or carpeting.
Can you afford it?
5 Tips to Help You Save Money on Pet Care
If your money is tight, but you really want to have pets, then you need to find ways to save money on pet care.
- Buy cat litter in bulk.
- Sign up for frequent buyer programs at your favorite retailer. You can get discounts on your purchases of dog or cat food, or even a free bag after so many paid bags.
- Don’t reach right away for the premium brand. Do your research to find the healthiest, but most affordable food for your pets. Some surveys have found that the first 5 ingredients were the same whether it was a premium or non-premium brand.
- Set up an emergency fund. Yes, YOU need an emergency savings account and you need one for your pets. An unplanned trip to the emergency room can set you back thousands of dollars. Try to build up an emergency fund of approximately $1,000 – $2,000 for unexpected vet bills.
- Purchase pet medical insurance. Like your insurance, it will help soften the pain of those medical expenses you might face with your pet.
What are Some Other Ways to Save Money on Pet Care?
There are some tax write-offs you can take advantage of. The IRS allows five deductions depending upon the status of your pet, for instance if your pet is a guide dog, a guard dog, or your pet is involved in charitable activities.
Visit this site for detailed information on how you might be able to earn some tax deductions for your pet.