Budgeting for Your 4-Legged Family Member

Do you have a 4 legged family member? Many of us have a pet or two and we need to budget for them monthly. However, very few people have any idea how much owning a dog or cat (or other animal) really costs, and because of that they grossly underestimate it.

Pet Expense Averages

According to Pet Education.com:Budgeting for your pet

  • Basic dry kibble, on average, costs between $100 and $250 per year for a 30-pound bag every month to two months. Premium or “holistic” dry kibble, on average, costs between $200 and $400 per year for a thirty-pound bag every month to two months.
  • This does not even include the cost of the original purchase price of a dog.  Shelter dogs cost around $150 while purebred dogs from a breeder range from $500 – $1500.

Lifetime Costs

  • The total – over the life of a 14-year-old dog – could cost anywhere from $4,250 to $12,500 to $38,900.  That is $25- $230/month.  What if you have more than one dog?  I have two!
  • The total – over the life of a 14-year-old cat – could cost anywhere from $4,520 to $7,720 to $18,300.  That is $26- $108/month.  And just like above…what if you have more than one cat?  My sister has two!

Figure Out Your Pet’s Expenses

If you already have a dog or cat (or two), go online to statements from the past 6 – 12 months and get a good monthly average from actual costs you have incurred.

Then, budget monthly for your 4-legged family member, including periodic expenses. It will help you from needing to resort to credit the next time you need to pay for something that is mandatory but unexpected in regard to these family members.

Costs every dog and cat owner should budget for:

For new/soon-to-be pet owners:
  • Purchase price (if you are looking for a new pet)
  • Spay/neuter
For new and existing pet owners:
  • Food
  • Toys
  • Litter for cats
  • Routine vet care
  • Emergency vet care
  • Groomer/grooming supplies
  • Boarding/pet sitter/travel costs

Remember, your budget should be designed to plan for future expenses so you do not have to resort to credit.  In order to develop a plan for financial stability you must first determine a realistic budget and one of those budget line items should include your 4-legged family members.

For more tips, check out Ashley’s post: How to Financially Prepare to Adopt a Pet.

Author Paige Best is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling and she specializes in budget, credit, and debt counseling.

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