It’s the time of the year when many consider adding a new pet to the family as part of the gift-giving tradition. Adopting a pet is a wonderful thing as long as families know that their new furry friend comes with a long-term commitment.
The ongoing costs involved in pet ownership need to be taken into account when deciding if a new pet is right for your family.
Pet care should have a permanent spot in the monthly budget. The costs can vary depending on the type and number of pets. Planning ahead is a great way to make sure all routine expenses are accounted for, as well as the unexpected costs that may pop up.
As the owner of two senior pets, I can tell you that, as they age, the expenses are greater and the trips to the vet are more frequent. Both of my dogs are on expensive prescription diets, and we have not one, not two but three vets — one primary and two specialists — for two dogs.
Some of the items that will contribute to the cost of having a pet:
VETERINARY CARE: Plan for regular checkups and vaccinations, as well as monthly heartworm and flea preventatives. Puppies and kittens will initially need several rounds of vaccinations and spay/neuter. They will also need to be microchipped.
Most rescues and shelters take care of the initial vaccinations, spay/neuter and microchipping and include these expenses (at a deeply discounted rate) in their adoption fees.
Keep in mind that, just like humans, pets may need an unexpected trip to the vet for an ailment or injury, so budget for these unplanned costs as well. If a pet has a chronic health issue, it may need to take regular medication. As they age, new foods may arise.
Pet insurance is available and may help with budgeting for vet expenses. There are many different plans, and factors for costs include age, breed and the overall health of a pet. Do some research to see if pet insurance may be a good option.
FOOD: This is another ongoing expense. Avoid buying the cheapest food, as a poor diet may lead to paying more in the long run for vet care.
In addition, if the food has a lot of fillers in the ingredients, a pet may consume more of the discount food, which equals to spending more overall. As pets age, dietary needs will change.
GROOMING: Long-haired dogs require a trip to the groomer at least once every six weeks. If you have a longhair breed, such as a Yorkie or Shih Tzu, and want to keep their hair long, groomer visits can occur as often as once a week.
Grooming costs can range anywhere from $40-$200 and up per pet, per visit depending on the size and breed of the dog.
When budgeting this category, be sure to include the cost of brushes, combs, pet shampoo, pet toothpaste and other items that are needed for home maintenance between grooming appointments.
BOARDING AND PET SITTING: Think about who will take care of the pets when the family is out of town. Vacation budgets should also include the costs of having someone tend to the pets, whether that is boarding them or in-home care.
If the pets will travel with you, consider that hotels, condos and vacation rentals that allow pets will usually charge an additional pet fee. We pay anywhere from $75-$150 per pet for them to travel with us.
TRAINING: Both puppies and adult dogs can benefit from some basic training. This is an expense that should be included in the budget early on, but would not be considered ongoing.
ACCESSORIES: Pets need so much stuff! Plan to purchase items such as travel crates, kennels, pet toys, leashes, collars and food/water bowls. For cats, figure in the costs of litter, litter box, scoopers and more.
EVACUATING: In our area, hurricanes come with the territory. Evacuation plans must include our pets and the extra costs associated with traveling with pets. Many hotels require separate pet deposits, and this needs to have a place in the pet-care budget.
NOV. 29: A percentage of sale proceeds at the Kendra Scott store in Lakeside Shopping Center from 5 pm to 7 pm will go to ARNO. Holiday shop and meet adoptable dogs! For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
DEC. 2: Port Orleans Brewing Company will host Santa Paws and Pints from noon to 4 pm at 4124 Tchoupitoulas St. in New Orleans, a fundraiser to benefit ARNO. Pet photos with Santa Claus are a $10 donation (humans welcome, too). A portion of every pint will go to ARNO. All proceeds will go toward vet bills for special needs animals. For more info, go to email@example.com
Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer manager for Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For more information on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.