Financing Your Furry Friends

By April Tisher

Cute faces, fuzzy snuggles and loyal companionship make animals so endearing to us. The thought of coming home from work to a cat sleeping on the couch, an excited puppy waiting at the door or fish swimming peacefully in your living room are all strong reasons to welcome a new pet into your home. However, financial barriers can sometimes prevent us from becoming a pet owner. From the very beginning there may be purchase or adoption fees. (See sidebar for specifics) Then comes the somewhat unpredictable expenses of healthcare that can be a deal breaker. However, with good planning it doesn’t have to keep you from your best friends.

There are over 75 millions dogs owned as pets in the US making a dog the most popular household pet. The AKC (American Kennel Club) outlines the average cost of owning a dog over its lifetime:

• Small dog with average lifespan of 15 years: $15,051

• Medium size dog with average lifespan of 13 years: $15,782

• Large dog with average lifespan of 10 years: $14,480

These average costs include things such as grooming, food, toys and treats, crates, bedding and training. It also accounts for routine vet visits for wellness and vaccines, not emergency visits or the cost of regular medications.

While dogs are the most popular and expensive household pet, there are also costs associated with other animals as well. A CNBC study put the price tag of owning a cat at $21,000 and rabbits at a cost of almost $13,000 for the lifetime of the pet. According to moneyunder30.com, here are some other costs you can expect for both cats and dogs: Having your pet microchipped at your vet will cost you around $50. A spay or neuter can run anywhere from $20-$300. Monthly heartworm/flea/tick prevention can be $50 per month. Some locations may require licenses which typically run about $25.

While people of all ages love to own their animals, it is the millennials who spend the most money on theirs. Over 57% of millennials are pet owners and they tend to spend more on things such as pet daycare, boarding, pet walkers, training classes and specialized foods (such as raw food diets). Costs such as pet fees in apartments are also a factor that younger owners will incur.

Many veterinary offices offer programs to help with the cost of pet ownership. Many companies offer pet insurance, which can start as low as $25 a month when purchased for young and healthy animals.

The Humane Society also offers low cost walk in vaccine and wellness clinics on specific days that can help with basic veterinary services. They also offer low cost spay and neuter services.

The best news of all? That same CNBC study cites that 93% of pet owners surveyed said that without a doubt their pets made them happier people! Apparently no matter what the cost, having an animal companion is worth every penny!

+FOSTERING

Not sure you are ready or are able to commit to a lifetime for a pet? You can become a foster owner! This allows you the opportunity to help an animal in need for a period of time that you can commit to. It can also help you to identify what kind of pet you may want to consider on a permanent basis later. The Humane Society of North Central Florida will provide all the food, bowls, vet care, etc. needed. You must just provide the love, home, transportation to/from vet appointments and updates on health and behavior.

CHEAPEST PETS TO OWN

1. Sea Monkeys

Starter kits for upkeep beginning at $15.

2. Hermit Crabs

$10 to adopt

$36-72 a year on food

$70 on one time supplies (aquarium, sand, hygrometer)

3. Goldfish

$227 a year for food and upkeep

4. Rodents

– Less than $50 to buy

Guinea pigs: $374 the first year (food, bedding and vet costs)

Pair of rats: $250 the first year (food, bedding and vet costs)

5. Small Birds

$15 to buy a parakeet

$285 a year to own

– Should spend no more than $387 for the first year of ownership

– ESTIMATED PET COSTS FROM MIC.COM

Thinking about adopting a lifelong friend? Head to humanesocietyncfl.org/adopt to find out about adoption costs and more information about adding a furry member to your family!

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