So you want to bring a pet into the family. Be aware that you are taking on a big responsibility to care for that pet for their lifetime. In return, they will give you more joy than you can imagine. In 2016, $66.8 billion was spent on domesticated pets. Half of this cost was food and another quarter went to vet expenses.
Vet bills can range from a minor ear infection (at around $300 dollars) to removing a foreign object from a dogs’ intestine (around $1600). Broken bones from a car accident could run thousands of dollars. Regular vet visits with routine treatments like heart-worm and shots will cost several hundred dollars per year. Insurance for pets is becoming increasingly more popular as costs rise. There are many levels of coverage separated by what’s covered, deductibles, and reimbursement rates. Many won’t cover preexisting conditions or hereditary diseases, like hip dysplasia. Carefully review coverage and enroll pets as young as possible before conditions present themselves. Check sites like petinsurancereview.com and petinsurancequotes.com.
When you are looking for a pet, purebreds can cost several thousand dollars. Always buy from a reputable breeder; never a pet store. Ask the breeder if the dog has been genetically tested for hereditary diseases common to the breed. You can find registered breeders on the American Kennel club website. Adopted dogs can still have some hereditary diseases, like pure bred dogs, but your initial output can be $350 or less. It usually comes with shots and spaying or neutering. Check for free adoption days and adopt an adult dog for even more savings.
Check your homeowners’ insurance for coverage for dog injuries. More than one third of all homeowner claims were dog bites and dog related. The average payout was over $33,000. Some insurers exclude dog liability coverage or won’t cover what they consider “dangerous” breeds, like pit bulls and Rottweilers. The best thing is to read your policy carefully and ask questions to make sure you are covered. Even with good coverage, you could be dropped after a dog incident.
It’s always best to have a well-trained dog to avoid those dog related incidents. Private trainers are pricey, costing up to $600 for a six-session course. The AKC has a six-week program ending with a test and certificate that runs about $100. It will usually satisfy condo boards, homeowners’ associations, and rental boards that require dog certification. Look for local programs at akc.org.
For everything else you need for your pet, it’s a good idea to comparison shop. From medicine like heart-worm and flea preventative (cheapest at Walmart and Chewy.com) to special diet food (often cheapest at the vet who can offer it at cost), it pays to shop around. With medicine, ask if generics are appropriate. Most pharmacies will fill pet prescriptions. Check goodrx.com for best prices locally.
So go out and find that pet that’s just right for you and your family. Just go in with your eyes wide open and realize this is a lifetime commitment.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO