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The Costs of Owning a Pet

Almost everyone has some kind of pet at some point in their lives – a dog, a cat, a turtle, a hamster, … do you have a pet? If you do, like most people you likely really care about your pet. He or she may even seem like a part of your family. “Money” probably doesn’t come to mind when you think about your pet that you love and care for every day.

But pets do cost money. It doesn’t mean you will love your dog or cat any less because of the costs.  It is just a reality that there are expenses to pay. You may want a bit of a heads up as to what those costs are.

First, there is the cost of getting the pet. Some pets you may be able to get for free – such as when people are giving “Free puppies or kittens to a good home” or from the SPCA. But, even then, there are shots to get to keep them healthy – and you will have to pay a veterinarian for those shots.

Some pets cost much less than others. A turtle or a hamster, for example, usually cost less than a dogs or cat. Some dogs and cats that are “purebreds” can cost a great deal of money – $1,000 or even more.

Let’s consider a dog. We noted the cost to get your dog and the shots to keep it healthy. Those shots can cost $200 or more. There will also be more shots needed over time to keep him or her healthy.

You may want to buy a dog bed for your dog.  An old rolled up blanket or pillow may do but, many people will buy a dog bed for their dog. Why? Because they love their dog and want to take good care of it. That is something to remember.  When you love something, like your dog or cat, you may be pulled to spend more money to care for it. You have likely heard that “money can’t buy happiness” but, when you love your pet, you may be willing to spend money to try and make sure your pet is happy.

Then there are the dishes for water and food – a dog collar – a dog leash – maybe some dog training lessons – perhaps a book about caring for your dog – and so on.

Then there is food.  There are different kinds of food and the cost can be very different.  The better food, that is likely to be healthier for your dog, will cost more. A can of dog food can cost from say $.99 to close to $3.00. Let’s pick an average of $2.00. If your dog eats one can of dog food a day that is $2 x 365 = $730 a year. If your dog lives a long life to 15 – which we all hope – the cost for food will be $730 x 15 = $10,950!

So the cost of a pet is something to think about when you are making a decision about a pet.  In the end, nothing can replace the love, joy, and companionship that can come from having a pet. But the costs are a reality and are something to consider when you are making your decision.

By Gary Rabbior
Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE)

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