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Cost Of Ownership Is One More Thing Pet Owners Are Unfamiliar With

Veterinarian Reviewed on May 5, 2017 by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM
Posted in Cat

The desire to own a pet is apparently so extreme that aspiring owners are ignoring the costs of caring for a dog or cat over its lifetime.

Previous research has suggested that many pet owners aren’t exactly aware of what is required of them to keep their pets healthy and disciplined. For example, more than half of pet dogs and cats are overweight but approximately 90% of people who own such pets had thus far failed to detect a weight problem on their own. Despite feeling qualified to own a pet, they did not notice when their pets’ appearance changed nor when they began displaying symptoms of obesity.

According to CNBC, a new report revealed that the overwhelming majority of pet owners did not calculate how much their pets would cost them before becoming owners.

Researchers from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) asked owners of dogs, cats and rabbits to estimate the cost of owning a pet for at least ten years.

They found that the estimations of 98% of pet owners were nowhere near the true costs. Most of these participants believed their pets wouldn’t cost them more than $6,445, with 12% saying they didn’t expect to pay more than about $650.

The PDSA calculates the cost of owning a dog throughout its lifetime to around $27,074 to $42,545. That number, which varies depending on the breed, includes initial costs of acquiring the dog, spaying or neutering, vaccinations, and food, toys, and grooming. Excluded from the calculation were any unexpected and likely expensive trips to the veterinarian.

Owning a cat throughout its lifetime reportedly costs $21,917 to $30,942. This calculation included the same expenses used for dogs as well as the ongoing cost of cat litter. Rabbit pet owners were incorrect about the costs of their pets as well, with just 1% of rabbit owners correctly expecting to spend more than $12, 893.

The PDSA noted that calculations for dogs and cats excluded pet insurance, which could add thousands to the cost considering premiums are currently going for around $25-$40 a month.

In 2014, illustrator Charrow drew a diagram to show how much money she spends on her Pit Bull, Red, while living in a city and running her own business.

“I truly had no idea how expensive they can be, especially if you want a well-trained, obedient dog,” she wrote.

Charrow pays someone $50 a week to walk her dog but added that her work schedule is flexible, therefore she assumes “most people who do not have flexible schedules spend way more.”

Remember those unexpected visits to the vet? Red once had an incident with another dog that ended up costing Charrow $850.

Aspiring pet owners who are concerned about finances should know that adopting an animal is far cheaper than buying from a store. The former option costs $50-$200 whereas the latter can easily top $1,000, according to rescue organization Best Friends. Adopting also gets you more for your money because most rescue or shelter animals are mixed-breeds, meaning they are likely to live longer and cost less in veterinary expenses than purebreds.

But arguably the greatest reward of adopting a pet is doing your part in combating pet overpopulation and taking business away from puppy and kitten mills that churn out animals as fast as possible to sell to pet shops. When you adopt a pet, you are ultimately giving a home to an animal that might eventually join the 1.5 million shelter animals that are euthanized a year due to lack of space and resources. You can even save the life of a dog that would be euthanized solely because of his or her age, which, as an increasing amount of people are discovering, only makes your job as an owner much easier.

Read also: How Organizations Around The US Are Combating Pet Overpopulation

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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