Regardless of whether it’s a dog, cat, rabbit, budgie, or goldfish, owning a pet can be hugely rewarding; coming home after a long day is all the more worthwhile when somebody’s happy to see you, while long walks, snuggles on the sofa, and playing together can do wonders for our mental health, as well as encouraging love and friendship. However, as with most major decisions in life, there are a few things that you should consider if you’re thinking of bringing a pet into your home, namely whether you’re financially secure enough to support another, albeit furry, beaky, or scaly, mouth to feed.
The cost of acquiring a pet
First thing’s first; how much does it cost to buy a pet? If you’re taking home a goldfish, small mammal, or bird the answer is, potentially, not a lot, although you must factor the cost of their accommodation, basic set-up, and recurring costs such as bedding, sawdust, or plants, into your budget. Bigger mammals, such as guinea pigs, rabbits, and ferrets will work out a little dearer of course, and you must ensure that you have the room to look after them; such pets require space to stretch out, an outdoor exercise area, and an ample hutch or cage.
Unless you’re hoping to rehome a horse, or have a particular interest in exotic animals and big birds, it’s likely that the most expensive pet you’ll encounter is a dog or cat; they are the UK’s most popular pets, after all. Again, it is essential that you think very carefully before committing to such an animal, as they can be expensive, and life changing – in both good and bad ways. Pedigree cats and dogs, purchased directly from breeders, can cost in the region of hundreds of pounds, and such an expense isn’t to be taken lightly. Unless you’ve set your heart upon a particular breed, rehoming an animal from a shelter can be a much better, and more cost-effective, option, although many will still expect a minimum donation.
The maintenance costs associated with owning a pet
So, you’ve got your pet – what now? The truth is that having a pet will never stop costing you money, and you must be prepared for that fact before you bring your new family member home. Cats and dogs, as you’d expect, incur some of the biggest costs (aside from farm livestock and exotic animals), requiring vaccinations, insurance, micro-chipping, grooming, the right kinds of food, toys, accessories such as puppy training pads, a lead, and poo-bags, and the odd treat that you may like to buy for them. Animals that will be outside unsupervised should also be neutered or spayed to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and you may also need to factor kennel costs, obedience classes, a dog walker, and pet-proofing your home into your budget, as well as the cost of repairing, or cleaning, furniture and other items around the home. Your pet’s food will now take up a spot on your weekly shopping list, while medical bills can be sudden and unexpected; even scheduled activities, such as remembering to Flea treat the dog can come at the worst possible times, but your pet should never suffer because you’ve forgotten to leave a little money in the pot.
If all of that seems a lot to take in it’s because its designed to be; having a pet isn’t a small consideration, and nor is it one without financial implications. That said, having a pet can be one of the most rewarding decisions you make, and you’ll soon forget every penny the moment they come running to you for the first time, or begin to recognise you as part of their posse. Yes, having a pet can cost the earth, but it can also complete your world.