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The Hidden Costs of Pet Ownership

During these challenging times when we’re all spending a lot more time at home, you may be thinking about adopting or purchasing a “pandemic” puppy or kitten. Pets are wonderful for providing companionship and love to their humans. Plus, if you have children, they can be actively involved with raising Fido or Kitty, which is always a good responsibility to teach.

But before you take the leap, have you considered the costs of raising your pet for many years? What many people don’t consider is the true price tag of their pet, especially if they’ve never had one before. Shelters are full of pets who have been abandoned or rehomed because the pet or pets become cost-prohibitive and people just can’t afford them.

According to the ASPCA, the average cost of adopting a medium-sized dog include:

  • Spaying/Neutering – $200
  • Medical Exam – $70
  • Collar and leash – $30
  • Crate – $95
  • Dog training – $110

In addition, you’ll need dog food, bowls, booster shots annually, plus a dog bed—on top of the cost of the initial adoption (about $200). If you are interested in purchasing a purebred dog, you will spend from $500 – $2,000 or more, depending on the breed. Then comes routine checkups, flea and tick prevention, heart-worm prevention and grooming.

All this can, unbelievably, add up to $10,000 over the pet’s lifetime.

Following are some situations you might not have thought of:

Medical Problems—especially in senior animals, but not always. Pets can incur hefty medical bills from illness, accident or a fight with another animal. It can cost you quite a bit at the vet. For example:

  • Chemotherapy for cancer—$5,351
  • Surgery to remove an object that your pet ate —$2,964
  • Surgery and meds for hip dysplasia—$7,851
  • Medications and blood test for diabetes— $10,496.

It’s staggering, and we hope your pet does not need any of these medical interventions, but keep in mind that it is possible. For that reason, you may want to set up a special savings account for your pet, or get pet insurance (more about that later).

But wait! There’s more:

  • Extra rental costs at your apartment: Some landlords charge extra each month for your pet.
  • Pet sitters or kennels: Add several hundred dollars to your trip’s cost, anywhere from $25 – $40 per day if you need someone to watch your pet.
  • Flying with a pet: Most airlines will charge a minimum of $100 each for you to travel with your pet.
  • Grooming: Some pets won’t need any grooming, or maybe once a year to keep them pretty. But others—like Shihtzus, Poodles, Bichons, and similar breeds—require regular haircuts at the dog spa. Typically, you may need to groom your dog about every 8 weeks. Costs can range from $30 – $100. If you adopt a cat, some long-haired breeds may need grooming as well.

If you are a pet lover and are truly seeking a new challenge and companionship, here are a few tips to help navigate and prepare for the upcoming expenses and any medical attention your pet needs:

  1. Open a pet fund—You can open up a special account and fund it regularly through payroll deduction. Tower’s You Name It Club savings account will help make sure you’re putting aside enough money for pet-related expenses or emergencies.
  2. Purchase pet insurance—Similar to insurance for people, pet insurance covers some trips to the vet in exchange for a monthly payment on the policy. This can be a lifesaver for your pet, and a money saver for you. The cost of pet insurance varies on your pet and what the plan covers. Typically you can get plans for health problems, accidents or both. The typical price range is:
    1. $10 to $35 per month for cats
    2. $20 to $70 per month for dogs

If you are considering pet insurance, please be careful to read the fine print and any exclusions. You don’t want to be surprised when your pet is sick or injured and the event is not covered.

Although opinions are mixed about the value of pet insurance, if you can be a diligent saver for such events, this may be a better option for you.

  1. Nonprofit clinics—There are many cities that have low-cost or nonprofit veterinary clinics that offer services at a discounted rate. Also, many veterinary hospitals tied to a college or university programs provide discounted services because their students need the additional training; this is done under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Using a veterinary teaching hospital ensures excellent care for your pet, while keeping bills low.
  2. Vet Payment plans—You may be able to negotiate a payment plan rather than paying all at once.
  3. Low-rate credit card—Use your low-rate Tower Mastercard credit card for all or part of the expenses.
  4. A personal loan—A low-rate personal loan can help you pay for an emergency vet bill with monthly installments over a fixed length of time.

Good luck with your decision to add a treasured pet to your family. Rest assured, your pet will be an important member of your family no matter what the expense!

Resources:,,, Millennial Money LLC

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