AARP Eye Center
If you have a pet, you want to give it the best care possible. But that may be harder to afford right now. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that in November 2022 petflation boosted the cost of pet food a whopping 15.7 percent, year over year. Wet food for dogs and cats rose even more, 22.6 percent and 18.8 percent, respectively. The total pet category (food and services) rose 12.7 percent.
Medical care can be especially challenging to afford. In a TEDx talk in Santa Barbara, California, Matthew Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, estimated that the top 40 percent of pet owners can regularly afford veterinary care, the middle 40 percent can sometimes provide it and the bottom 20 percent may not be able to. “It’s simply not an option. The cost of veterinary medicine is out of reach for so many,” Bershadker said.
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What can you do? Fortunately, there are ways to lower, defray or eliminate some expenses. You could, as the ASPCA suggests, do nail-cutting, brushing and even grooming at home instead of paying for these services. Following are more ways to keep costs down, as you provide your pet with loving care.
1. Include pet care in your budget
First, track expenses, as you may be spending more than you think. According to a survey by Rover.com, depending on where you live and your lifestyle, one dog may cost from $480 to $3,470 per year. These figures don’t include upfront costs, such as supplies, initial veterinary care, and spaying or neutering, which may bring that figure to $1,050 to $4,480 — for a dog that’s healthy.
A cat, says the ASPCA, may cost around $634 annually for food, treats, safe toys, routine checkups, vaccinations, and flea and tick and heartworm medications.
Pet costs are necessary, just like food, rent, or mortgage payments, says Matthew Gaffey, a certified financial planner at Corbett Road Wealth Management in McLean, Virginia. To better afford them, look for discretionary items in your budget that you can easily cut. “They will likely pale in comparison to the love you have for your pet,” Gaffey says.