One of the biggest things to keep in mind before deciding to purchase an animal is going to be the pet health care costs you’ll be facing. These costs differ dramatically between different types of pets and different situations. For instance, there’s probably no comparing the most dire medical costs for a hamster to even the most basic health costs of a horse. While we’d all like nothing more than for our pets to be entirely healthy and happy for all the years of their lives, we must operate under the assumption that something serious inevitably will happen, and that in such an event, we, as owners, must be willing to pay the resulting veterinary costs. So what kind of up front costs can you expect? What should you be prepared for? Read on to have your questions answered.
As you make your pet purchasing decisions, ask yourself how much pet health care cost you’re prepared to deal with. If your answer is “not very much,” it’s probably best to invest in a lower budget animal such as a goldfish or betta fish or a small mammal like a hamster or mouse. This is not to say that these animals will have perfect health and will never need to see the vet, but the likelihood of a fish or hamster incurring hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of medical care is slim. Unlike dogs, cats, or horses, a fish or small mammal doesn’t require yearly vaccinations or check-ups. If you’re on a budget, avoid any animal that’s considered “exotic” such as reptiles, amphibians, and exotic birds like parrots. Many times, these animals require special, difficult to find vets who charge more for their expertise. Research and plan before you buy!
While you may not have any up-front health costs for a hamster, fish, or other small animal, you have to consider the fact that your pet may take ill at some point. For fish, one of your biggest concerns will be a disease called Ich, which can be treated with a $10 bottle of solution from the pet store. For hamsters, mice, and other rodents, home-diagnosis is usually tricky, so a trip to the vet will be necessary. Most vets charge a flat fee for an office visit-that is, just for bringing your animal into the exam room. This fee varies from vet to vet, but expect to pay anywhere between $30 and $70 just for the visit, plus extra for whatever medication your pet might require.
For larger or more exotic animals, your pet health care costs will inevitably increase. Puppies and kittens alike must have 3 or 4 rounds of booster shots in their first few months of life. Depending on your vet, this set of vaccinations can run anywhere from $50 to $100. After the booster shots, your cat or dog will need a check up, vaccination, and rabies shot every year for the rest of their life. On top of that, you’ll need to have your dog or cat spayed or neutered around the age of 6 months. The cost of spaying or neutering depends upon the type of animal, and upon the animal’s gender. As spaying is far more invasive than neutering, it’s naturally going to be more expensive, and since dogs are generally larger than cats, the cost will be greater for dogs. Expect to pay between $50 and $100 to have a cat altered and between $70 and $200 to have a dog altered. Some cities offer low-cost spay/neuter clinics where you can get a considerably reduced-cost surgery–a feline neutering could be as little as $15 at a low-cost clinic!
As much as you don’t want to think about it, you must also factor potential major illnesses or emergency situations into your pet planning. A basic broken bone can rack up a bill around $1,000 for a dog or cat. A major internal surgery and stay at the vet could cost you upwards of $2000. Treatment for a chronic illness such as cancer could have you looking at numbers in the $1,000’s as well. Some animals may develop conditions that require daily medication, in which case you’ll have monthly costs to contend with that could be from $25 for a basic medication on up. For horses or other larger animals, add another zero to each of these cost estimates.
While owning a pet should never be reduced to a matter of numerical figures, the reality of pet health care costs must be dealt with before you bring an animal into your home. You owe it to yourself to be fiscally responsible, but moreover, you owe it to the living creature who is going to be depending on you for its every need.