July 25, 2017. By Jennifer Wolfsberg:

The joy of adopting a pet whether that be a new puppy, kitten or adult rescue is an exciting time for any family.   The search to find the right dog or cat that fits your family’s energy and household can take time and patience between the application process and visiting all the different shelters and breeders.   Even the most well-behaved and easy going pet can come with a tremendous amount of financial responsibility.  According to the American Pet Products Association (“APPA”), Americans spent an estimated $66 billion dollars on the purchase and care of their pets in 2016 alone.

As loving pet parents at Centerpoint and financial advisors we thought we would wear dual hats and provide a summary outline of expenses and planning items we believe to be important considerations when assessing whether pet ownership is right for you and your family. While our bias toward furry friends leads us to believe a pet is always well worth the investment, these are items that should be integrated into your household budget and financial planning.

Here are some factors for consideration when adopting a new pet:

Start-up Supplies and Care – If you are a first-time pet owner, you will quickly realize that the start-up supplies and services for these little cuties can really add up. New bowls, vaccines, crates, dental/ear care, brushes, teething toys, training treats, shampoos, pee pads and car seats all can be found at varying price points.  These days the discount retail stores can help with some great pricing; however, know where to invest in quality products and when to utilize the discount retailers.  Some retailers sell bones, treats and foods that may have been on the shelf far too long and have expired which can be harmful.

Special Diet Needs – Some pets just like humans have allergies and digestive complications that may require specialty foods, product lines or preparation. This may include grain-free or other allergies that can be very troublesome.  Please check labels and do not purchase food, treats or bones that are made in China.

Pet Health Insurance – Pet health insurance is a newer trend that not all owners are familiar with; however, they operate differently from human health insurance in that the onus is on us as pet owners to complete claim forms, provide to the veterinarian for their signatures and attach proof of receipt prior to submitting to the insurance company. There are many levels of insurance offerings such as preventative, maintenance or emergency.  Inquire with your vet for those companies they have found responsive to claims or ask friends and family.  The amount of insurance companies entering into this specialty has risen considerably over the last several years.  Be cognizant, however, that some insurance companies reserve the right to not cover certain conditions based on the breed’s susceptibility to specific illnesses or injuries such as those listed here.

Doggie Daycare or Dog Walker – Doggie daycare’s can be wonderful outlets for all-day supervision and socialization for dogs, however typically are a bit more expensive than a dog walker. Finding the right fit for your dog and family’s needs is very important.  You will first want to tour the facility to see how the dogs are grouped, as some are by size and others by energy.  What play and feeding time procedures are there and what is the ratio of humans to dogs for care and supervision are good questions to ask.

You may be like many of us and work full time. If so, doggy daycare may not be an option and finding a great dog walker is critical for them while you are working long days.  Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, and some may provide discounts for group walks or exercise, especially if already working in the area for other clients. Rover.com can be a helpful resource for finding dog sitters, walkers, and facilities.

Boarding Needs – Please consider those times when you may need to travel for work or for pleasure and your little friend cannot accompany you on the road. Who will care for the dog if you do not have a family member or friend who can assist you?  Many doggie daycares also provide this service and a great fit if Fido is already playing there weekly.  There are also many online services that will match you with a local family that is willing to care for him while you away.

Training Classes – Enrolling your new puppy in obedience and basic training classes not only bonds you to one another, but is also a great baseline for their training and introduces them to other dogs for socialization. Adult dogs can benefit from training immensely as well if they are adopted from a shelter and you find they need some basic training or may have some behavioral issues.

The Fun Stuff – The ongoing fun experienced with a new member of the family includes the week-to-week toys, treats and comfy beds we all see online or in stores when we are simply browsing. Albeit rewarding to see the wagging tails when a new toy is given, these items add up over time, and that is why the pet industry is where it is today.

Great adoption agencies, such as Save A Dog, will also be able to provide insight with many volunteers being pet owners themselves. We know that many of our own clients and acquaintances are pet lovers as well, and we would love to hear your pet budgeting and adoption tips! Please feel free to share these (along with your favorite pet photos of course) with our team at any time to help those who are new to the process.