Prepare for the Cost of Owning a Pet

Plan ahead for pet expenses with a Citizens Bank savings account and online tools

For many people, a pet is a part of the family, and it's important to keep them healthy, happy and strong. However, the cost of a pet can add up to thousands of dollars over the years. Establishing a pet budget early on can help you save and plan for these costs so you can stay within your budget while keeping your companion happy. By reviewing annual costs for necessities like food, shelter, accessories and medical expenses, you can figure out how much you'll need to cover pet expenses. Then, you can set aside funds to manage the cost of a pet with a Citizens Bank savings account. When you sign up, set up automatic monthly transfers from your checking account to save for pet expenses, and use our GoalTrack Savings® program to track your progress and earn rewards when you reach your savings goals. Learn more about the costs of a pet below to get started.

Determine the average pet expenses to create a workable budget

Pet costs can vary widely depending on the type of pet you want, the size of the animal and his or her particular needs. In addition, pet expenses can also be affected by your region - for example, the average cost of pet care is generally higher in large cities. The ASPCA estimates that the minimum annual cost of care for pets is as follows:

  • Dogs: $580 - $875.
  • Cats: $670.
  • Other mammals (hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc.): $300 - $730.
  • Small Birds: $200.
  • Fish: $35.
  • Reptiles (snakes, lizards, frogs, etc.): $190-450.

While these estimates include basic costs such as food and medical care, it's important to note that they don't factor in first-year, upfront pet costs associated with accessories, spaying/neutering or training. Making room for these and other costs in your pet budget will keep your new friend happy and healthy.

Consider the extra needs of dogs and cats

Whether you're getting a dog or a cat, you will need to make sure his or her physical, mental and emotional needs are met. Here are some pet expenses to consider that apply specifically to cats or dogs.

  • Spaying/neutering. Neutering or spaying your cat or dog is important to his or her health and safety, so it's necessary to speak with a qualified veterinarian about performing the procedure. Spay and neuter costs can vary, so check prices at local animal clinics and add the cost to your list of pet expenses.
  • Boarding and travel crate. It's important to make sure that your pet has a safe place to play. Start with a comfortable place for your pet to sleep and a travel crate to make moving around easier. Then, be sure to keep some toys around to keep your dog or cat fit and mentally stimulated. If you travel frequently and can't bring your pet along, consider adding boarding or 'doggie/kitty day care' costs to your pet budget. These services can be budget-friendly or high-end; the best way to determine the quality is by visiting the facility beforehand to ensure it is clean, offers plenty of space for your pet to play, rest and sleep, and has trained staff to monitor and interact with the animals.
  • Training. For dogs, obedience classes are a great way for new dog owners to learn how to work with their pets, and even experienced dog owners may benefit from learning new training techniques. Homeowners with open backyards may want to install a fence to keep their dog in a safe area while keeping other animals out. An invisible fence is another alternative if you don't want to put up a fence, but want to keep your pup in the yard. Although neither of these expenses are mandatory, you may want to consider adding them to your pet budget so you're prepared if the need arises.
  • Special furniture. Cats may need special furniture so they can play, scratch and climb. Scratching posts and cat trees allow your cat to engage in natural behaviors without damaging your furniture. Adding these items to your list of pet costs could help you save money in the long run.

Include special expenses for fish, reptiles and pocket pets in your budget

If you want to purchase a rabbit, bird, reptile or fish, take the time to research costs for items such as bedding, cages or tanks. Many smaller animals need specialized additions to their habitat to stay healthy, such as heat lamps, water bottles and exercise wheels, so be prepared for these additional pet expenses. Speak with a veterinarian or an animal expert to determine what these pets may need before you commit to caring for them.

Save on pet costs without cutting corners

Owning a pet can be expensive, and while you'll want to find ways to save, you shouldn't compromise your pet's health and safety to do so. Here are some tips that can help you create and maintain an affordable pet budget:

  • Ask a trusted neighbor, family member or friend to care for your pet while you're away from home.
  • Keep up with vaccines and wellness visits to avoid major health problems.
  • Consider pet insurance to save money on medications and treatments.
  • Feed your pet the best food you can afford to avoid digestive problems and other health issues.
  • Perform simple grooming tasks yourself instead of going to a professional groomer.

Begin saving for the cost of a pet with a Citizens Bank savings account

Owning a pet can be a rewarding experience, but as you can see, it's important to plan ahead for pet expenses. In fact, the first year of pet ownership can easily cost over $1,000. When you open a savings account at Citizens Bank, you can use our online tools to plan for and meet your savings goals. For more information about our savings options or to get started, contact a Citizens Bank customer service representatives or open a savings account online today.


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