Been heading to the pet section of the bookstore, checking out squeaky toys online and dreaming of getting a cat or dog of your own? Adopting a pet is an exciting time in your life, but often one that can come with unforeseen expenses. Here's a guide to knowing if you're ready, and if you can afford the costs once you've made the leap.
Looking for a pet while living on a budget
There are lots of places to find a new pet, but where should you go if you want to save money? It may seem that a box with a "Free Kittens!" sign is your best bet, but by opting for a free pet, you're also opting out of the low-cost spaying, neutering and vaccinations that many shelters provide before adoption. Those procedures can add up to hundreds of dollars.
Look into local shelters near you that provide pets at an affordable rate, with those procedures already done. Tell the shelter employees about your budget, and they'll help you find a pet that works with your lifestyle. Senior citizens should keep an eye out for shelters participating in Purina's Pets for Seniors Program.
Planning for long-term expenses
Puppies and kittens tend to need more checkups than slightly older pets, as do elderly pets, so if you don't have an excess of disposable income, it might be better to find a mature pet that's looking for a home. Basic costs of any pet include regular checkups, emergency veterinarian visits, vaccinations, and of course, food. It's also smart to plan for kenneling costs, obedience classes, grooming and toys - if you're not feeling 100% financially secure, you should wait to adopt. Just like children, pets are members of your family that are going to need a lot of care!
Already have a pet but having trouble dealing with the financial stress? See what resources are already present in your community. Many people who are passionate about pets create and support organizations that help people who are going through rough times keep the pet they love. Ask your local shelter to help you get connected.