What Is The True Cost Of Pet Ownership?

For most pet owners, their furry, feathery, and scaly friends are more than animals; they are family members. This can sometimes mean spoiling them like they would human family members.

With nearly 70 percent of Ohioans owning pets, according to the Ohio Credit Union League’s 2018 consumer survey, that means a lot of funds are dedicated to pets. Of those pet owners, 46 percent said they tend to spend up to $500 annually on pet care and supplies. Another 21 percent spend between $500 and $750, 15 percent between $750 and $1,000, while 18 percent claim to spend more than $1,000 on their fur babies each year.

Expenditures on pets by Ohioans are not far from national averages, according to research from the American Pet Products Association (APPA).

Data from the APPA shows about 68 percent of households in the U.S. – 84.6 million families – own at least one pet. In 2017, American pet owners spent a combined $69.51 billion on their animals. That means each pet-owning U.S. household spent about $822 caring for animals last year.

The APPA breaks pet spending into five major categories: food, supplies (including medicine), veterinarian care, live animal purchases, and pet services (including grooming and boarding). According to the Ohio Credit Union League survey, 51 percent of Ohioans spend most of their pet budget on veterinarian care.

Nationally, most money spent on pets – about $29.07 billion – went toward food in 2017, and $17.07 billion on vet care that same year. Spending on pets in the U.S. is expected to continue to rise. The APPA estimates Americans will spend $72.13 billion on their pets this year, almost $3 billion more than in 2017.

So, how do you continue to spoil your loyal friend without breaking the bank? Here are some money-saving pet care tips.

  • Create a pet budget. It’s easier for owners to save on pet costs if they can see how that money is spent. Try setting up a budget specifically for your pet. Track spending on food, toys, veterinarian visits, medicine, grooming, and boarding. At the end of each month, assess how much money has been spent on pet costs and adjust those categories as necessary.
  • Keep pets healthy. Taking pets to the vet regularly can get costly, with veterinarians charging an average of about $257 for a routine dog visit and $182 for cats. But emergency medical costs are even higher (surgical visits cost an average of $245 for cats and $474 for dogs) and tend to stack up. It’s more cost effective to visit the vet regularly for complete physicals, which include diagnostic tests to detect problems before they’re serious. To help keep pets healthy between vet appointments, make sure they’re getting the correct food and plenty of exercises.
  • Make your own Many of the toys sold in pet stores can be created at home. For instance, cat scratching pads can be fashioned from cardboard boxes and braided towels can replace pricey rope toys for dogs. Sites like VetStreet.com offer creative and simple DIY pet toy ideas.
  • Consider less-expensive alternatives to boarding. Travel with animals isn’t always possible, but boarding can get expensive. Instead, try setting up a pet-sitting system. Offer to watch friends’ pets for free while they’re away in exchange for their pet-sitting services next time you leave town. If free pet care isn’t available, check out alternative boarding options like com or DogVacay.com. These sites connect owners with walkers and sitters who typically charge less than pet daycares.
  • Get help. Pet owners struggling financially have options. Charities like RedRover and The Pet Fund provide grants and money toward veterinarian bills. Meals on Wheels and local pet food banks can help owners struggling to feed their animals. For more pet assistance programs, visit iheartdogs.com.

Learn how a credit union can help you do more with your money by visiting www.aSmarterChoice.org.

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