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Money management: Can you afford another pet?

Watch out for two major red-flag moments when deciding if you can afford to bring another dog or cat home.

puppy with ribbon
Can you afford another pet?

Try to avoid impulsive adoptions

Watch out for two major red-flag moments when deciding if you can afford to bring another dog or cat home.

As I walk up to my local pet store on a Saturday afternoon I can’t help myself: I always stop to fawn over the adorable puppies available for adoption. After about five minutes I pick out which one could possibly make the best addition to my home — and get along with my current 4-year-old Maltese, Toby — but my boyfriend drags me away before I make an impulsive decision with serious consequences.

Pets are expensive, in terms of financial costs and emotional ones. And while it’s easy to get wrapped up in the sheer cuteness of a new dog or cat, it’s important to understand the realistic costs of adding a second pet to your home.

Show me the money

Easiest to identify are the financial costs of adding a second cat or dog. The desire for a new pet can cause us to underestimate the items we will need and the veterinary trips required in order to be a responsible and diligent pet owner. For example, if you are unsure if you can afford a dog, make sure you’ve budgeted for these expenses that you’ll incur immediately:

  • Adoption fees
  • Food and water bowls
  • Appropriate-size crate with bedding for travel
  • Appropriate-size crate with bedding for home
  • Collar and leash
  • Dog tag with microchip
  • Chewing toys and training treats
  • Odor and stain remover
  • First veterinary office visit with necessary vaccinations
  • Neutering or spaying

Red flag

You might be able to save on some of these items. However, if you run down this list and feel like you need to remove items in order to feel more comfortable with the addition of another pet, the financial burden of a new pet is realistically just not within your budget.

Pets seem to attract unexpected spending so a budgeted list of costs is just an estimate and the true cost of adding a second pet will in all likelihood be much higher. Be comfortable with the idea of spending double or triple your budget in case a catastrophe occurs like an emergency room vet trip or a fight with another one of your pets. By increasing your estimates of what another pet will do to your finances, you can gauge just how prepared you are for the addition of another dog or cat.

A stress-free zone

After you form a realistic budget for your new animal addition to your home, it’s essential to keep in mind the emotional costs of a furry friend. Dogs need love and attention on a daily basis and transitions for them are mentally anguishing. So you’ll need to be able to be devote at least a few days to getting your dog settled: going for lots of walks, wandering around your home, etc. Cats require less transition preparation, but the new environment can still be daunting and overwhelming. Since you already have pets, it might be easy to overlook the time and emotional energy you actually spent when your first brought your dog or cat home.

Don’t expect to bring a new pet home only to leave for work the next day and be gone for eight to 10 hours. Try to adopt a new pet over a weekend and take an additional day off before or after the weekend to ensure you have a solid amount of time to help your new pet adjust. (Note: If you’re thinking about getting a puppy, you should be able to devote at least one week to the puppy full time).

Red flag

If you can’t fathom taking time off from work to care for your new pet, then realistically your current lifestyle just doesn’t allow for the major up-front time commitments required for a new dog or cat.

More tips for pet owners

Benefits of pet ownership for children
Doggy apps for pet owners
Pet owners share ways they splurge on their pets

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