Can you afford a pet?

imgp0463When a cute puppy runs to you with a wagging tail, a happy smile, and eyes that say “take me, I’m yours”, it is very hard to say no.

Pets make delightful companions, dispensing affection and unconditional love. All over the world, people share their homes with an animal companion — usually dogs and cats — and many say that the love an animal companion makes all the adjustments they needed to make worthwhile.

Those adjustments include money. Caring for an animal comes with a lot of responsibilities, including the financial aspect. Pets are living things, and therefore, their needs last for their entire lifetime, about 10-15 years. Whether you’re getting an expensive dog with the most stunning pedigree or a mongrel you rescued from the streets, a live animal will have the same requirements: food, health care, housing, grooming, and affection.

Owning a pet is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but make sure you are adequately prepared for the responsibilities it entails.

Here are some expenses that prospective pet owners need to prepare for:

1. Food

While most pets would be happy to eat table food, they need a special diet that is apt for their needs. A kilo of dog food costs from a low of P85 per kilo to as much as P250 per kilo. Size dictates an animal’s consumption — small dogs can subsist on less than a fourth of a large dog’s requirements. Similarly, active animals require more food than couch potatoes. If you are thinking of getting a large dog such as Labrador Retrievers, Huskies, German Shepherds, and the like, be prepared to shell out a pretty good sum for dog food. If you are lucky, a 15-pound bag could last you two weeks, but that would depend on your dog’s appetite and how you are able to resist its entreaties for more.
2. Vaccines and other veterinary needs

Pets require regular vaccinations. Puppies require 3-4 rounds of immunizations against common dog illnesses (parvo, leptospirosis, distemper, canine hepatitis) and rabies. These have to be updated yearly. If your pet gets sick, be prepared to shell out money as well. For instance, ehrlichia, a tick-borne disease that affects many dogs and cats in the Philippines, requires a month-long antibiotic therapy. As part of responsible pet ownership, you may also want to consider neutering your dog to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Neutering depends on the size of your pet, but this can cost anywhere from P2000 for small breeds to upwards of P5000 for larger breeds.

3. Flea preventives

Let’s face it, pets are mobile and despite your best efforts, they can still get ticks or fleas. Spot-on treatments cost P300 each and have to be used monthly. Of course, there are cheaper alternatives, depending on your pet’s requirements.

4. Grooming

Some pets can get away with very few visits to the groomer, such as short-haired dogs and cats. However, some pets require frequent grooming sessions, in particular long-haired ones such as shih-tzus, maltese, and poodles. Otherwise, they would be filled with mats all over their bodies, which can be quite painful. A visit to the groomer, which may be necessary every 3 months, costs around P500 per session. Of course, you can groom your dog yourself by brushing your long-haired pooch daily.

5. Pet boarding

If you live alone and need to go somewhere without your pet, you have to either find someone to look after him in your absence or take him to a pet hotel or boarding place. Most boarding places charge around P400-500 a day.

6. Pet equipment

When you take your pet home, you need to get yourself some essential equipment like a collar and lead, a pet bed, some toys, etc.

7. Obedience classes

As a responsible pet owner, you need to ensure that your pet behaves by teaching it basic commands. Although you can try to do this yourself using free online videos as a guide, obedience and socialization classes for puppies can cost you around P2,500 minimum for a complete course.

8. Occasional damage

Having a pet may sometimes mean dealing with some damage he may cause – possibly chewing up shoes, furniture, and the like. Hopefully, he doesn’t bite or scratch a person or another dog or cat, since you may have to pay for the medical costs in case injuries are sustained. This is why teaching obedience skills is essential.
The list above is designed to help you when deciding to take home a pet next time you come across a cute puppy or a kitten. While the list may appear long, and expensive, good budgeting skills will always serve you well.

This article appeared in ABS-CBN’s website in 2014 in collaboration with Citibank. Since I was interviewed by the writer for this article, and I share all the ideas presented here, I am reposting it here. 

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