In 2012 approximately 70% of all US households had a dog or cat, about 83 million homes. It can truly be said that the emotional bonds that people have with their pets are very strong and growing stronger but, as with any other “family member”, providing the care that they need can prove to be quite expensive.
While obedience school certainly costs less than college, and there’s no need to spend money on clothing for your cat, the typical owner will spend approximately $1600 for a dog and $1300 for a cat in just the first year of ownership. Every year thereafter will cost approximately $700 including paying for things like vaccinations, food, toys, leashes and routine veterinary care. These cost don’t even take into account the cost of boarding your pet should you go away or paying for a sitter, a cost that could be quite prohibitive if you travel frequently.
According to the APPA, spending has increased almost 10% in the last two years alone and Americans now spend nearly $56 billion a year for things like grooming, “doggie hotels” and even gifts. The cost of health care is going up as well and the ASPCA reports that annual expenses for owning a cat equal approximately $160 and $230 for a medium-sized dog. If you’re not keen on paying out huge amounts of money every time you go to the veterinarian, health insurance for your pet can cost upwards of $200 a year. Considering that the cost for emergency care if your pet is critically injured or ill can be upwards of $5000, having insurance is almost a must.
One key concern that veterinarians have is that owners are spending less on preventative care for their pets and making fewer visits for preventative care to their offices. It was estimated that between 2006 and 2011 the percentage of households not taking their dogs for check-ups at all increased by almost 10% and, for cat owners, a startling 24%.
Dr. Kimberly May, assistant director of communications for the AVMA, says that “so many diseases are preventable with relatively little cost upfront.” For example, having your dog or cat’s teeth examined and cleaned regularly is the best way to prevent serious dental problems in the future as well as keeping overall health issues normal. Health problems like heartworm are also significantly cheaper to prevent rather than to treat.
The cost to feed and care for a dog or cat is becoming more exorbitant every year. If you have children or are planning on retiring soon, it may be a cost that you should avoid. On the other hand, dogs and cats do offer companionship and love that money simply can’t replace. If you have the financial ability to afford one, and you take some steps to keep them healthy and avoid large veterinary expenses, it can be well worth it.