Pets don't cost as much as kids, but they still require some financial planning.

Americans make big financial sacrifices for their pets, spending an average of $1,560 annually — all to ensure Spike is well fed, healthy, and happy.

Whether it’s a dog, cat, bird, reptile or rodent, most Americans (54 percent) own a pet. That’s according to the American Institute of CPAs, which had The Harris Poll find out just how far we would go for our critters.

With an average cost of $130 a month for your pet, you’re looking at a projected $15,600 total cost after the first 10 years. It’s not in the same ballpark as raising a kid, but it sure isn’t cheap.

“Owning a pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s also a long-term financial commitment,” says chairperson and CPA Greg Anton. “It is important to incorporate both routine and unpredictable pet expenses into your budget to help ensure your own financial plan will not be disrupted.”

The expenses aren’t always predictable. While pet owners can expect to spend on food, toys, and routine maintenance for their pet, surprises creep up. Emergency medical care or boarding could be necessary without warning, and it could lead to big sacrifices.

In a crisis, pet health outweighs financial struggles

The majority (76 percent) of Americans reveal they would make financial sacrifices to be able to afford an emergency pet expense. Four out of five (79 percent) would stop eating out, while two thirds (67 percent) would forgo a vacation.

Even if over half of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account, we’re more likely (61 percent) to cancel our cable and television services if it meant keeping our pooch under our roof. Over a third (35 percent) of us would rather cancel our phone plans than let go of a pet.

We can live without TV and phones, probably, but other sacrifices could harm you. Over a third (37 percent) would give up retirement account contributions for pet expenses. In other words, they would risk their own long-term well-being if it saved their pet’s life.

Even more surprising, a fourth (27 percent) of pet owners would put off paying their credit cards to help manage pet’s expenses. This could lead to penalties, increases in interest rates, and can damage your credit score.

Some Americans would go even further. Individuals said they would “give up everything in the house” for their pet’s emergency expenses. Others would give up the “quality of groceries” and “cut back on the amount of money spent on grandchildren.”

A few even said they would “give up everything.”

Before you adopt or buy a pet, do the math

The best way to prepare for a new pet in your life is to be honest about your finances. If you can barely afford student loans or your credit card payments, it might be better to wait before bringing on more financial responsibility.

A quarter (23 percent) of pet owners discovered the cost of pet ownership was more than they expected. That’s why it’s important to do research before your puppy purchase.

“As you consider bringing a pet into your family, understand that you’re making a substantial investment of both time and money,” Anton says. “The costs of your ‘new family member’ will go far beyond bringing them home, so it’s important to budget for the lifetime of the pet.”

When looking for potential pets, look into the cost of routine care — and don’t forget to factor in emergency expenses.

Set a budget for yourself, keeping in mind the cost of food, medicines toys, leashes, crates, tanks, lights or whatever else your potential pet may need. See where you can save money by buying in bulk.

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Meet the Author

Brittany Ferrendi

Brittany Ferrendi


Ferrendi is a freelance writer and the webmaster for South Florida Gay News.

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Article last modified on July 10, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: How Much Would You Spend for Your Pet’s Health? - AMP.