Can You Afford a Pet? The True Cost of Pet Ownership Staff
Maintain a pet lifestyle
Pet costs can add up. Before your pet purchase it’s important to understand what your financial obligations will be, determine if you can afford it, and find the things that will keep it affordable.

No pet owner would deny that their pets are part of the family. But our furry friends can’t live on love alone; money is needed month-in, month-out to keep them happy and healthy - from toys and treats, to health checks and surgery. But just how much can those expected – and unexpected – expenses cost over a lifetime? Which pets need the deepest pockets? How can you make it more affordable? Can the top pet insurance companies help you save money on veterinary care? 

The Real Cost of Having a Pet

Think about a puppy purchase. If you don’t have a big budget, you could visit an adoption center or rescue home – often new owners are invited to make a donation, and/or pay for any necessary boosters or injections. Often spaying or neutering your new pet is included by the shelter, if it hasn’t been done already. By comparison, a pedigree pup could set you back anywhere from $600 to $2,000 or more.

Once you have your forever friend home, daily costs, additional medication needs and surgeries cost money. You could see even a medium-sized dog costing more than $1,400 a year, according to an ASPCA study. Spread that over a 15- or 20-year period, and it’s easy to see how things can add up to lifetime costs of around $15,000

Sometimes, a little help and support goes along way when it comes to affordable pet parenting. Petplan is a great resource for dog owners, giving advice and tips on ownership, behavior and insurance.

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Dogs and cats aren’t the only pets around. A small bird could cost $80 monthly, with a yearly cost of around $600, or a parrot or cockatoo costing $800 per year, equaling a cost of ownership pushing $150,000 over a 50-year lifetime. Hamsters, costing around $500, are considerably more affordable, probably due to their shorter life-spans of a only a couple of years. Ferrets will only cost around $250 to purchase but can end up costing much more in veterinary bills due to common diseases, such as Distemper and Adrenal Gland Disease.

If your taste in pets is more exotic, like snakes and lizards, you’re also in for an expense. These animals wide array of specialist food, like mice, equipment, and heating devices, can set you back anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 over a 15 year lifetime.

Unexpected veterinary costs can be a shock when something goes wrong, but can be eased with the right pet insurance. PetsBest’s wellness coverage helps you pay for those regular vet visits, which, like people’s check-ups, can cost a fair amount. 

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With some domestic pets, like birds, living up to 50 years, it's easy to see why many pet owners are strapped for cash from just food, toys, beds, grooming equipment, insurance and veterinary bills over time. A longer lifespan requires insurance that can keep up for the long-haul. PetfFirst offer great cover with no lifetime limits, which can help cut down on some of those pet expenses. 

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Whatever your pet priorities, PetsBest, Petplan and PetfFirst are 3 of the best resources designed to bring the peace of mind of knowing your furry or feathered friends are well-loved, and covered so that you can focus on playing fetch and saving your money for other things. 

To help offset the cost of your new animal friend, compare the top pet insurance companies. Staff's editorial staff is a professional team of editors, writers and experts with dozens of years of experience covering consumer, financial and business products and services.