BBB offers tips on calculating the cost of getting a pet
by: Ryan Harper, Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina
RALEIGH, NC (WNCT) — Pets are cute AND expensive.
Having pets will also bring joy and big expenses. Pet owners are now getting to the point where owners have to decide whether to give up their pets due to food prices and medical exams. The Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina seeks to educate owners about the costs of owning a pet.
“Bringing an animal into your home that depends on you is a big responsibility,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of BBB. “Consumers need to be sure they are financially ready to own a pet before making this decision.”
The BBB also wants to educate owners about pet scams. There has been an almost 500% increase in reported pet scams from 2017 to 2020.
In August, a Harnett County victim lost $950 to an online pet scammer. We recommend extreme caution when researching pets to buy online.
The BBB suggests checking your monthly budget and considering it before buying a new pet.
Here are some tips when you have a pet:
- Food factor. Standard dog or cat food will cost you a few hundred dollars a year. However, if your pet develops a food allergy, expect to pay more for a prescription diet.
- Budget for veterinary visits. All pets need an annual exam and vaccinations. Some pets will also need annual checks for parasites and deworming. These tours cost an average of $160 for cats and $225 for dogs. Of course, the price of an annual vet visit varies depending on where you live, so be sure to check with your local vets. Also, choose a veterinarian you trust before getting a pet. Keep in mind that your pet may also need routine care along the way, such as dental cleanings.
- Know the cost of preventive medical care. Most dogs and cats need flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Budget for the cost of preventive medical care when planning for a pet. Buying preventive medications can save you a big medical bill later.
- Consider grooming. If your pet needs regular grooming, such as nail trims, baths, and haircuts, find out how much you can expect to spend by calling local groomers and asking about prices. Ask them how often you should plan to have your breed of animal groomed.
- Provide a kennel board. If you’re a frequent traveler and don’t plan on bringing your pet with you, another expense to consider is boarding fees. According to a national survey of pet owners, dog owners spent an average of $228 on kennel boarding and cat owners spent an average of $78. If you don’t like the idea of boarding your pet in a kennel, you’ll need to find out the cost of hiring a pet sitter. If you plan to travel with your pet, consider additional travel expenses like pet fees at your hotel or the cost of flying with your pet.
- Don’t forget the extras. Plan for miscellaneous expenses, such as licenses, toys, treats, obedience classes, replacement of damaged furniture, etc. Check out this list for more unexpected pet-owning expenses.
- Have an emergency fund. Even if you have a healthy pet, be aware that emergencies can occur. It’s wise to keep an extra $1,000 to $2,000 in an emergency fund especially for surprise vet bills, which can be costly if emergency treatment or surgery is needed.
- Consider pet insurance. Pet insurance can cover unexpected vet bills and sometimes wellness visits, but plans and coverage vary widely. Do your research to find out if there is a pet insurance plan that might work well for you and your pet.
- Consider adoption or foster care. Many local shelters are looking for foster families to help relieve animal stress and reduce overcrowding in their facilities. Placement and adoption are often much more affordable options than buying from a breeder.
For more advice on BBB pet costs, click here.