5 things you need to do before getting a pet

March 21, 2018

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Thinking about bringing a pet into your life? The benefits include stress relief, physical activity and an improved general sense of well-being.

With a new pet comes new responsibility, as an animal requires an investment of time, money and effort. Here are some things to consider before making the move.

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1

Calculate the core costs

Pet owners tend to lowball expenses. A survey from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals found that 98% of respondents underestimated the cost of ownership.

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The true lifetime cost of dog ownership ranges from about $9,000 to $46,000. For cats, it starts at $17,000 and ends at $34,000 over the animal's lifetime.

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One way to cut down on costs is through pet rescue. Many shelter animals have had expensive shots and procedures and, better yet, you'll be saving a life.

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2

Be ready for an emergency

According to the American Kennel Club, the base cost of an annual vet checkup is $60. That doesn't include vaccinations or unexpected emergencies.

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Depending on the type of animal and breed of your pet, pet insurance may be a smart investment.

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Consider pet insurance for dogs or cats, which can help mitigate hefty costs related to unexpected illnesses, upset stomachs or emergencies

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3

Determine the "extras" you can't live without

Pet costs go beyond food and health care. An older, trained dog, for example, may not require a crate, but experts recommend crates for younger dogs

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Cats and their owners may benefit from a cat tree, since cats may turn to furniture to scratch. Do you really want to pay to reupholster your couch?

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Pet boarding, walking and daycare may also be costs you'll need to take into consideration.

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4

4. Find creative ways to save — and play

Homemade pet food could theoretically save you cash, but it's crucial to check with a vet first to ensure the food meets the pet's nutritional needs.

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Pet toys might be a better place to DIY. Old clothes, linens and balls can be repurposed for pets with a little creativity,.

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And if you're really looking to take on a project, you might consider constructing your own cat tree, pet enclosure or even bed.

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5

Consider a cheaper starter pet

If this is your first foray into pet ownership and you're concerned about the financials, consider starting with a smaller, less cost-intensive animal.

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Animals like birds, reptiles, rabbits and guinea pigs may give you companionship and the caretaker role you're craving without breaking the bank.

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While a bird probably won't fetch you the morning paper, the animals are surprisingly intelligent, and some will even talk with you.

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If your heart is set on a four-legged, fluffy pet, consider creating a special savings account dedicated to your future pooch. They'll surely be worth the wait.

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