I knew that when I moved to Portland that I would want a dog. There is just something comforting about coming home to someone, especially since I grew up in a big family. The idea of being in an empty apartment in a city where I didn’t know a soul was intimidating and lowkey scary. Plus, I’m the type of person who won’t leave my house unless there is something to do, and during quarantine, there was nothing to do, so I thought having a dog to take on walks or go to the dog park with would be good for me. But I had to sit down and think about whether or not I could afford a pet.
How much is a pet?
The initial cost of a pet differs from what you are getting. If you get a fish or a lizard, you need to research what sort of tank you need to buy and what kind of food they eat. But most of us, when we talk about getting a pet, are thinking about a dog or cat.
The initial startup cost for those also depends on if you shop or adopt. Shopping for a pure breed or a specific breed of dog or cat will cost you a significant amount of money. Whereas adopting is way cheaper, especially if you wait for an adoption day special. My sister got her dog for $10 at the pound.
Now you need to consider what your pet will need immediately after getting them. Things like a crate, toys, bowls for food and water, leash and collar, and whatever other small things you can think of all start to add up. The average startup cost of a pet dog can be around $250 with food and other necessities. Some of this stuff is not cheap. But if you plan and look for sales, you might be able to shave a few dollars here and there.
Other things to keep in mind
Figure out how much your pet will affect your monthly budget
This one seems obvious, but there might be some small purchases that you don’t realize you’ll have to make. I have a very tiny dog. She is 11 pounds on a good day, so when I take her to the dog park, she gets covered in slobber by dogs bigger than her, which happens to be every dog. This means I go through shampoo for her faster than I would like, and that’s when I’m not taking her to the groomer to make sure she’s clean.
The other purchase I wasn’t aware of when I first got her was doggy daycare. I never thought that I would be that person to send their dog to daycare, but I send her there once a week so that she can get out of my hair and I can work. I feel bad when she has to sit in the apartment all day while I work or when it’s raining. Just make sure you can afford the month-to-month of your dog without having to sacrifice big somewhere else.
Emergency pet fund
You know how you should have an emergency fund for yourself in case you get an expected medical bill or you blow your tires out? The same concept applies to a pet. The last thing you want is for your pet, whom you love dearly, to get injured and not be able to afford care for them.
When my dog was a few months old and teething, she decided to chew through a plugged-in electrical cord. That vet bill cost me about $1,200. So be prepared because you don’t want to sit there and figure out if you can help your dog or pay next month’s rent.
Are you scared of the aforementioned unexpected vet bill? Well, there is such a thing as pet insurance. I know how insane that might sound to some, but it can come in handy. It just takes a bit of research to find a policy that works best for you. It’s the same idea as having car insurance or renter’s insurance; why wouldn’t you want insurance on your best friend?
I love my dog, and if something happened to her and I couldn’t afford to help her, I would never forgive myself. So look into some pet insurance policies and find one that works best for you. I recommend starting with Lemonade. They don’t sponsor us, but I love them so much. (Or as much as one can love an insurance company.) They are my favorite insurance agency out there. Their app is the best by far, and you can file a pet policy starting at around $10 a month.
I love my dog, but she has cost me a lot of money over the last year that I’ve had her. Between vet check-ups, injures, grooming, shots and vaccines, and her toys, I’ve learned to have a separate smaller budget for her. She has kept me company in the last year while I, like a modern-day Rapunzel, dream of an open world locked away in my apartment. I want to make sure she is taken care of well.
Pets aren’t cheap, but they also don’t need to break your bank. There are plenty of deals on pet supplies out there. Just take a little time to find them. Also, try checking out Chewy for discounts on food and toys.
If you want to read more on budgeting for yourself instead of for your pet, read the article here.