When you make a commitment to a dog, you make it for life – or at least you should (although from many of the listings I see in Facebook groups and on Trade Me, it is clear that others don’t believe in the lifetime commitment). With that lifetime commitment comes a fairly significant financial commitment.
That’s why I applaud the recent survey undertaken by the American Institute of Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) concerning the cost of pet ownership. Although this survey was done in the USA, I would expect the findings to be broadly transferable to New Zealand – certainly the recommendations are!
The overall findings were:
- On average, American pet owners spend $1,560 per year on their pets
- One-in-four say their pets cost more than they expected
- More than 3-in-4 Americans would make financial sacrifices for their pets
And the survey even asked how these pet owners would make financial sacrifices, if they had to, to fund emergency pet care expenses which is illustrated in the graphic below:
To help Americans fully understand the financial commitment that comes with bringing a pet into their home, the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission has the following tips:
- Be honest with yourself financially – If you are struggling to pay off your student loans and have credit debt piling up, does it really make financial sense to get a pet? Pets are great but they are meant to help relieve stress, not add to it due to financial difficulties.
- Do your research – Though the cost of routine care may be predictable, it varies widely from animal to animal, and even from breed to breed, across the full spectrum of family pets. Know ahead of time the probable cost of care that will come with your companion.
- Make a budget: “pre-pet” & “post-pet” — Include all related expenses, i.e. food, treats, leash, crates – including tank for fish, lizards, etc.—toys, vet visits, grooming and other services such as boarding and day care. If your pet will require a habitat powered by electricity, be sure to factor in the impact it will have on your utilities bill.
- Be prepared – If you’re worried about unforeseen costs, use an emergency savings calculator to help you regularly set aside funds, or consider getting pet insurance.
- Buy in Bulk – Items such as food, treats and preventive medicine can be purchased in bulk, reducing the overall cost per unit.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand