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Financing a Pet: How a Furbaby Digs Into Your Piggy Bank

pet, cost of pet

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Are you and your plus-one having sweet visions of furbabies romping through your home...but unsure how a new housemate might affect your bottom line? We’ve got the skinny on the costs of adding a third (or fourth, or fifth!) member to your family.

In some ways, purchasing a pet is the similar to buying a first home: The first 12 months will always set you back more than the following years because of the costs required to set up and settle in. Besides spaying or neutering your pup (which ultimately saves money by preventing unexpected fur-bundles of joy), you’ll need to pay for toys, beds, and vaccines. The ASPCA estimates that the first-year "startup" expenses alone will set you back $565 for a medium-size dog and $365 for a cat.

Outside of these initial expenses, the ASPCA asserts that the average pet parent doles out $695 annually ($470 if you don’t have pet insurance) for a medium-sized dog, while a cat costs about $670 per year ($495 without pet insurance). These costs, of course, increase if you pamper your pet with specialty food and designer toys.

So what’s the down-low on pet insurance? Policies start at around $100 a year, and premiums depend on the same factors as your own health insurance (age, preexisting conditions). Search online and then talk to your vet for recommendations. If you decide to forgo pet insurance, Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Adoption Center in New York, suggests putting aside about $200 per year for unexpected medical expenses.

The first year bottom line? Expect to pay $1,580 for a medium-sized dog and $1,035 for a cat.

See the first year startup costs of owning a pet here.

See the average annual costs of owning a pet here.


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