Home & Family

The True Cost of Pet Ownership for American Households

posted by Hannah March 27, 2018 0 comments
Pet Ownership Costs

It’s official: Americans love their pets. More specifically, recent studies show nearly 55 percent of households in America have at least one pet living under their roof. I joined this statistic nearly seven years ago when I adopted my little mutt, Trooper.

One look at those puppy-dog eyes and wagging tail and I was a goner. At the time I thought I was looking into the face of a 15-pound Corgi/Terrier mix puppy. I was greatly mistaken. In reality, I became the proud mother of a Collie/German Shepherd hybrid with 40 pounds of fur. I wouldn’t trade him for the world, but this has meant the additional costs of raising a medium-sized, thick-coated herding dog in the hot climate and urban environment of Dallas, Texas. Not easy nor cheap.

According to a report from the ASPCA®, my expenditures align with the average costs associated with pet ownership. In fact, research shows on average the total first-year of owning a dog or cat alone usually exceed $1,000. And yes, the companionship my furry best friend has brought me is priceless. However, for those who are looking to bring a pet into their home, you might want to ask yourself: is it worth it?

Pet Ownership: Expected Expenditures and Annual Costs

Routine care for pets varies from animal-to-animal. And, although pretty predictable, they can empty your wallet for different reasons.

For example, a reptile will shed its skin and dollars out of your wallet by increasing your electric bill. The same goes for fish and other types of pets requiring an around-the-clock aquarium or special habitat.

However, since dogs and cats dominate the type of pet found in American households, let’s focus our attention on the expected costs invested in these furry companions alone.

Average annual costs including food, recurring medical expenses, toys, treats, license fees, health insurance and other miscellanies necessities are around $800. Capital or necessary but less frequently purchased items including spay/neuter, collars, leashes, litter boxes, scratching posts, carrier bags, crates, training classes and other initial medical costs run around $565 for a dog and $365 for a cat. Visit the ASPCA website for a full breakdown of costs.

Put it simply? Imagine investing in a pet similar to a new car. If you don’t keep up with routine maintenance, such as vet check-ups, feeding your pet proper food, and investing in the means to keep your pet confined indoors, in a yard or out of harm’s way, it’s expensive.

Pet Ownership: Value of Companionship versus Home Value

If you did your homework already before getting a pet, you probably are already aware of the average costs.

However, according to a 2011 British survey, most owners do not take into consideration how a pet can affect the overall cost of a home. When adding up the repair bills, cleaning fees, and other damage, pet owners spend roughly $1,020 a year on home upkeep.

But it’s not just the money in your wallet that is depreciated. Experts say the value of a home drops when a buyer discovers the home was shared with pets.

And it’s for several reasons. The first and most obvious is the overall cleanliness and smell. If your pet has free reign over your home, shedding on your carpet and leaving waste all over the yard, it will leave a mark. You might be accustomed to certain smells, but pets that urinate in the home can leave a stench easily detected by visitors.

Studies show an estimated 20 to 30 percent of young adults suffer from airborne allergens like pet dander. This can have severe health consequences such as hay fever and asthma or other allergic responses. And, since animal allergies are a common concern, this could deter a potential buyer from the home.

It’s not just odor and pet hair inside the home that can cause an issue. If the front or backyard consists of stained yellow grass, a damaged fence or randomly dug holes it can be enough to make a buyer leave a home immediately.

And homes are not the only type of dwellings that are affected by pet damage. A survey by Apartments.com found that 72 percent of renters surveyed said they are pet owners. Most landlords require at least a $200 deposit prior to the tenant signing a lease. This deposit can vary based on the size of the pet, it is more than likely non-refundable and is on top of the risk of losing your security deposit thanks to pet damages.

Cats and dogs are not the only culprits. Even small animals such as ferrets or hamsters can leave an unpleasant odor. If not cleaned properly, a filthy aquarium can make your home value tank.

Pet Ownership: Tips and Tricks to Reducing Costs

Luckily, when it comes to pet owners, you can teach an old dog new tricks to cut costly expenditures.

First, don’t try to cut corners when it comes to basic pet needs. If you bring a puppy into your home, make sure to spend the time or money on training. This is imperative not only for the pet itself but for the reduced risk of damage from chewing or urinating in the home.

Make sure to keep up with bathing and grooming. Most owners become accustomed to their pet’s odor. But just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean you didn’t deal it. Brushing and grooming your pet can also eliminate the amount of dander left behind in your home.

If your pet has a lot of energy, make sure to it gets ample time for activities. Take your pooch to a dog park to help remove the need to chew or dig out of boredom. If you own a cat, invest in a scratching post so it doesn’t claw your cabinets or walls.

Invest in toys so your pet doesn’t try to make your property its own plaything. This also can help reduce emergency vet visits if any hazardous items are chewed or accidentally ingested. Make sure your animal is provided the right diet and amount of food. This is not only for health reasons and the accidental, and costly emergency vet visits. It also can help eliminate unwanted stains on your floor created by your pet and its upset stomach.

If you are in the market for a new dog or cat, consider an adult. Not only are adults typically more docile than puppies, they often come with the added bonus of being already trained and/or having undergone necessary vet procedures.

Pet Ownership: Can you afford it?

A mess is unavoidable when it comes to bringing an animal into your home.

Just like additional costs, you also need to set aside the time for the added responsibilities and upkeep. Simply add the types of cleaning, repairs, and maintenance that come with your furry family member(s).

Personally, if you can budget the costs and make time for the investment — coming home to your furry companion’s wet-nosed kisses are worth it.

What about you? Do you have any tips for keeping pets in your home? When was your first pet? Were you aware of the cost of pet ownership? What is your largest pet expense to date? Feel free to leave your comment in the section below! 

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