Pet ownership is one of the great privileges we have. It is not a rite because not everyone is capable of the responsibility. That little life depends on us, and we must be prepared to support that pet’s needs.

While the benefits, like companionship, love, loyalty, friendship, etc., of pet ownership, are immense, you need to consider the responsibilities, like food, exercise, shelter, health, etc.

One of the duties of pet ownership is financial. Surveys and statistics show that the average 1st-year expenses of pet ownership are three thousand dollars. This number covers the basics, such as food, supplies, licenses, spay/neuter, preventative medications, veterinary, training, etc. Over your pet’s lifetime (12-18 years) you can expect to pay 20,000.00. These costs are for commonly expected things, not emergencies or other unexpected expenses, like a dog walker, grooming, boarding, or property damage.

The majority of the expenses of pet ownership are non-veterinary, as the veterinary portion is only about 20%, but being a veterinarian myself I can address that 20%, and offer suggestions to potential new owners. First of all, plan for the expected by adding an item to your budget for your pet’s health care. Use the figures above and save monthly. Secondly, you should expect the unexpected. Do not put yourself (or your pet) in the position of having a medical emergency and being unable to afford the care. It is your responsibility to prepare for this occurrence. The best way to handle this is to have an Emergency Fund (separate from the budget for routine care). Health Care Credit Cards, Pet Health Insurance, and Wellness Plans are also ways to plan for your new pet’s health care.

All of my pets I have loved dearly and I believe they loved me. I attribute this to taking my responsibility seriously, and this forged a relationship that was special. As I look back, I have nothing but fond memories that are the result of an investment of time and resources that paid big dividends. I recommend pet ownership, but only after you have considered the details, then you also can share the mutual love that pet ownership offers.