Are you budgeting enough for your pet? 9 ways to control the costs of your furry friend. – MarketWatch


This article is reprinted by permission from  NextAvenue. org .

Animals are endearing and a source of comfort to humans. They can make us laugh, share our tears, and slow down to cuddle. Whether you have a fish, dog, cat, horse or exotic animal, there is no doubt that pets are an important part of your life.

No doubt pets are usually popular. In the U. S.,   90. 5 million households —close to 70% of the total — have at least one. Many owners say their animal companions are priceless, but they do come at a cost: $50 billion for food and treats alone in 2021;   $123. 6 billion   after adding veterinary bills, crates and pet services such as grooming, dog walkers and pet sitters.

On average, the  cost   to a family is between $700 to $1, 200 a year depending on the size of the animal — the bigger the animal, the bigger the bills.

With inflation accelerating, it is important to your own financial well-being to pay closer attention to pet expenses. Trimming some spending is possible while maintaining your pet’s health and quality of life.

9 ways to rein in your pet budget

1 .   Start a local pet-sitting exchange.   Professional pet sitters hate the idea, but you can save a lot of money by organizing some friends and neighbors to take turns caring for one another’s pets when their owners are away from home. Track how much time each member contributes to make sure work is fairly shared.

2 .   Ditch doggy daycare.   Take your dog for a run at a local dog park before you leave for work. When dogs get enough exercise and companionship, they are better off while you are at the office or even running errands — and you can save the cost of care. Gone for the day? Have someone from the pet exchange come over plus let them out even if just for a short walk or visit to your yard. No long walk needed.

3 .   Don’t forget to brush . Most pets need their teeth cleaned as much as humans do. This process helps clean their mouths and prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Dental chews work but you will still need to brush their own teeth regularly. In addition , there are all sorts of mouth sprays available for your cat and dog. Taking the time to care properly for their teeth will prevent larger vet bills. Besides, who wants a pet with bad breath?

4 .   Buy in bulk . Cut the cost of store-bought food by purchasing in bulk. Storing food is easy. Don’t have the room? Consider splitting a purchase with another pet owner.

five .   Make their food . A friend of mine would cook a healthy concoction for her canine once a week. This not only cost less, but it also meant fewer trips to the pet store for factory-made food. Before checking out the recipes on-line, learn the importance of a  balanced diet .

Don’t miss: ‘Genetics ain’t everything’: You can clone your dog or cat, but should you?

6 .   Create a personalized dog bed . Time for any new pet bed? Before you go out shopping, consider making one with what you have handy. Cover old pillows along with flannel or one of your favorite old shirts. Your pet would be comforted by your scent and be more restful, to boot. Recycled bedding is more ecologically sound.

7 .   Seek health service discounts . Veterinarian schools are typically cheaper than vet clinics and animal hospitals. While students perform procedures, they are supervised by an experienced vet. To find a veterinary college near you, the  American Veterinary Medical Association   has an online directory of accredited institutions. Alternatively, you could consider joining a veterinarian discount program. The largest one,   Pet Assure , gets members 25% discounts from participating vets in exchange for a monthly fee.

8 .   Insure your pet . Almost 2 . 5% of the 160 million animals in the U. S. are usually covered by pet health insurance, according to the  North American Dog Health Insurance Association . Dogs account for 81. 7% of insured pets; cats are second, at 18. 3%.   Average annual premiums   range from $350 for cats to just under $600 for dogs. Like human health insurance, family pet plans do not cover all expenses, so understand the plan you purchase.

Read : Is pet health insurance worth it? Here’s what to know before you buy it.

9 .   Create a pet account . Planning for inevitabilities, such as veterinarian bills, can help reduce financial anxiety. Squirreling away some of the savings from tips shared above is one way to prepare for an emergency — and the vet bill that follows. In the heat of the moment, folks may decide to pay whatever it takes to keep a pet alive. But unless they have the money, they could be left short in other critical areas. A financial set aside will provide some perspective and help prevent emotions getting the best of you  and  your wallet.

Read : What dogs can teach us about life and death

Each year, about  6. 3 million pets   enter shelters, and about 920, 000 shelter animals are euthanized. The number of deaths has declined from approximately 2 . six million in 2011, which the ASPCA attributes to more adoptions and more success in returning strays to their owners.

However ,   research suggests   people adopt fewer shelter animals during an economic slump, and fewer welcome back strays — especially if the strays are usually old or in need of expensive veterinary care.

With that in mind, these uncertain economic times — with the stock market almost 30% below its recent peak and inflation near 40-year highs — warrant close attention to your financial choices.

Whether mammal, bird or even reptile, an animal companion that brings you joy is important. Understanding the cost of keeping a pet and keeping its cost under control will help your pet’s future — and yours.

Christine D. Moriarty, CFP, has over 25 years of experience coaching individuals, couples and business owners on their finances.   Her focus has been the intersection associated with emotions, behavior and money.   She is living her dream in Vermont and  delights in sitting down with a cup of Irish tea and a good book.   Find more at  Moneypeace.

This article is reprinted by permission from  NextAvenue. org , © 2022 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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