In 2020, pet ownership reached an all-time high of 70%. Half of the newly adopted pets went to first-time pet owners. This is great news for the animals in need of a home, but new pet owners need to be aware of the costs and responsibilities their new friends bring into the home. The annual cost of pet ownership can be thousands of dollars.
Before this figure strikes anyone as alarmist, it is worth noting that the first year is the most expensive one for owning a pet. To use dogs as an example, the first year brings costs like spaying/neutering, training, initial vaccinations, and crate purchases. These costs don’t usually carry over into subsequent years. In aggregate, the most expensive aspects of owning a pet are food/treats and veterinary care. Most reasonable owners expect to pay regularly for food. It’s when there’s an unexpected vet bill that money becomes difficult for them.
How can pet owners avoid high vet bills? An important step is preventative care. 80% of pet owners take their pets in for a checkup at least once a year. This allows them to spot problems before they get untenable and stay up to date on vaccinations. Regular dental care and flea/tick prevention also do wonders to keep a pet in shape. Finally, owners need to clear their environment of toxic houseplants and other hazards to prevent accidental poisoning of their pet.
Another useful tool to keep vet bills down is pet insurance. While pet insurance is an expense unto itself, it can save the owner from paying out of pocket for costly vet procedures. Over 3 million pets in the US are insured, and annual dog premiums vary depending on breed and coverage type. Cat premiums average about 40% less than dogs.