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How To Prepare Your Finances For a Pet

Adopting or buying a pet is one of the most exciting new chapters in life. I remember the day I brought my very first puppy home back in 2016. It was the first time I was financing a pet on my own and I was solely responsible for caring for the little guy. I enjoyed the experience so much, I eventually adopted a second puppy in 2018, which filled my heart with even more love. Living life with my two best buds is a whirlwind. It can be a bit hectic and expensive, but totally and completely worth every cent.

Truthfully, having pets is the best.

It’s the perfect dose of responsibility that could prepare a person for impending children, while not completely eradicating your sense of freedom. Pets, especially our furry friends like dogs and cats, become part of the family so quickly. We adjust to their quirky, unique personalities, cleaning up after them, snuggling them, giving them exercise, and more. In short, most pets require a ton of work, but they are ultimately worth it.

If you’re thinking about welcoming a new creature in your home, whether it be a fish, ferret, snake, cat, dog, or even pig (yes, that’s a thing!) then make sure you’ve given your monthly budget a good hard look before taking the next step. Oftentimes people get suckered into adopting a puppy when they see adorable photos of pups on their Facebook newsfeed or can’t say no to welcoming a kitten home when walking past a pet store. Sure, these animals are incredibly cute (just like babies) but they require an enormous amount of time, attention, and money (again, just like babies).

Whether you long to bring a guinea pig home or a dog, be certain you’re prepared to finance your pet properly.

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Here are a few tips to prepare your finances for a pet:

1. Decide on what type of pet you want.

If you work long hours at your job and do not have time to run home midday, or don’t usually get home on time at the end of the day, a dog probably is not the best fit for you. Dogs require attention, affection, and they need to urinate/relieve themselves quite often.

Unless you can take a dog to work, afford a daily dog walker, or finance doggy daycare to give a dog the attention it needs, it might not be in your budget to have a dog. Consider a cat, which requires far less attention, or a pet reptile or rodent. Cats are particularly independent, only needing a litter box and some food and water left out to get them through the day. Even rodents like guinea pigs and rabbits that live in cages need only daily food and water.

Choosing the pet that fits your budget and lifestyle is the first step in preparing your finances for a pet.

2. Consider your living situation.

A big step in preparing to finance a pet involves where you live. If you’re in an apartment, your landlord may have strict fees for cats and especially dogs.

When I was apartment hunting years ago (back before I had dogs) I recall seeing nonrefundable deposits for dogs between $100-$300 depending on the size/weight of the dog. Some apartments even charge a monthly pet fee and a cleaning fee upon moving out. Other apartments do not charge for pets like cats, fish, etc. Some apartments do not even permit pets under any circumstances.

If you own your own home, you’ll have much more freedom in the type of pet you can have. In this scenario you might have to finance fencing in your backyard to give a dog room to run around freely and safely. Definitely assess your living situation before adopting or buying a new pet.

3. Decide whether you want to adopt or buy.

There are vast differences between buying a cat or dog and adopting one. In the research I did leading up to getting my dogs, I noticed buying is significantly more expensive than adopting.

There are many pros and cons to buying. A huge pro is that you can buy a dog from reputable breeders. This is favorable for many dog owners because they know how the dog was raised from birth, the bloodlines of the dog, and have a sense of confidence in their decision by knowing where the dog is coming from. A con to some could be that most breeders do not have their dogs neutered or spayed, which is an added cost to you, the pet owner.

I bought my first dog, Jax, from a breeder in Iowa that I researched. The fee was almost twice as much as what I spent on adopting my second dog, and I had to fund getting Jax neutered, which was an added cost as well.

Adopting is a totally different story. Oftentimes the fees to adopt are far less expensive but you also do not necessarily know what you are getting. I adopted my second dog, Kai, from an organization that I heavily researched. The fee was around $400 and although he did not come neutered, the fee to neuter him was built into the adoption fee. This was favorable to me because neutering a dog can be costly. One con to adopting is that I do not know much about Kai’s background. Fortunately he is healthy, but some pet owners prefer to know a dog’s bloodlines and I do not know Kai’s.


I am not here to tell you that buying is better than adopting or that adopting is better than buying. My personal experience is not meant to sway you in one direction or another. Rather it’s meant to show you how different buying and adopting a dog can be.

4. Research pet insurance.

Pet insurance is probably a silly thing to even consider if you’re planning on picking up a fish or a hamster, but it can be really wise to invest in if you want a cat or dog. Check with the vets in your community to see what plans they offer ahead of time. I cannot speak about pet insurance for cats, but I do know in my community the pet insurance for dogs is pretty remarkable.

A lot of pet insurances for dogs will include monthly tick/flea medication in their plan, as well as heart guard. They cover up to a set amount for surgeries, medications, tests, spay/neuter procedures, and more. Some pet owners prefer to pay out of pocket at the vet for these products and services. While others prefer to pay a monthly insurance fee to cover some of these fees. Ultimately, investing in pet insurance is by no means required, but more of a personal choice. In some cases it can be cost effective to pay for an insurance plan. Therefore do your best to compare prices before you welcome a new pet home.

5. Consider your veterinary clinic options.

 If you have a few vets in your area that are easy to commute to, compare costs and services before getting a pet. I know in my area I was quoted a range of $600-$1,000 to neuter my first dog, Jax, which in my opinion is insane. I ended up finding a reputable vet out of town who charged me $100 for the same exact service (and quality; Jax had an excellent doctor and healed perfectly).

As long as you’re not skimping on the quality, try to opt for affordable veterinary services. Some vets charge more because they work in high-end clinics, offer extra services, etc. If you really only need bare minimum for your pet (assuming your pet is healthy, young, etc.) then you can probably choose a vet with lower rates. If your pet is older, has a condition, etc. you’ll want to make sure you give that pet the care it deserves and needs. All of this should be taken into consideration before bringing a pet home.

Welcoming a pet into your home and family is an extremely exciting step. Before getting ahead of yourself, though, be prepared to finance the type of pet you plan on getting.

Consider the cost of aquariums if you long for fish. Think about the cage and conditions necessary to house rodents or reptiles. Prepare for the preventative meds that cats and dogs need to be on to ward off ticks, fleas, and worms. Pets require more financing than the initial fee you pay to adopt or buy them.

After that, it’s vet visits, medication, the cost for food, toys, dog/cat beds, leashes, harnesses, etc. Pets are absolutely, positively one of the best parts of life! Just be sure you’ve thought long and hard about affording a pet to give it the best life possible.

Photos courtesy Rachael Tulipano.

About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.

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