For those welcoming a dog, cat, fish, bird, rabbit, guinea pig or ferret to the family during the holidays, start stuffing cash into a piggy bank.
Two-thirds of American households own pets and spent an estimated $75 billion on them in 2019, according to the American Pet Products Association.
Pet food tops the list, followed by veterinary care, but there are other costs to consider: toys, treats, walkers/sitters, pet deposits, grooming, vaccines, lab tests, training, supplies and medicine.
Do your research, advised Kristen Euretig, a certified financial planner at Brooklyn Plans. “A pet is a big commitment and requires resources on multiple fronts: time-wise, financially and emotionally.”
Euretig adopted her rescue dog Sato a few years ago, and said the financial aspect was a learning experience.
“Even rescues are $300 to $500 to complete paperwork and get the dog, which was something I didn’t realize,” she said in an e-mail exchange.
“There are also some costs you can’t anticipate, like I had to get all new shoes the first year because our dog destroyed them all when teething,” Euretig added.
The average pet owner spends $1,100 to $2,000 within the first year of owning a new pet, according to the ASPCA.
Dr. Stephanie Janeczko, the ASPCA’s VP of shelter medicine services, said, “Owning a pet does require some financial planning, but bringing a pet into your home adds incomparable joy.”
Once pets are part of the family, investment adviser Charles Schwab suggests adding to emergency funds; buying umbrella insurance for extra liability protection (“in case a dog bites or trips someone”); exploring pet insurance; and making plans for how the pet will be cared for in the longer term (“some parrots have lived up to 100 years!”).
The personal finance site ValuePenguin obtained quotes from 11 pet insurance companies and found the monthly cost of the average plan ranges from $25 to $70 for dogs, and $10 to $40 for cats.
Euretig said her family has pet insurance, which so far “hasn’t paid a dime,” even after Sato was hit by a bike and had a torn paw this year. The bill just met the deductible.
Still, she said, “We sleep better at night knowing that if something big happens, we have that.”