But the reality of having a pet in your home goes far beyond the cute factor. There’s the commitment to caring for a member of your family for many years, when they’re young and frisky or older and have issues. There are also varying costs involved that potential pet owners should remember when deciding what pet will round out their family.
So when an eco-minded friend was looking into a new pet for her family, she asked Eco Lassie to do some research on which pets would take what kind of toll on her family’s budget, and here are the sometimes surprising results.
For any pet you choose to bring into your family, there will be costs involved, from their food to vet bills, and depending on the pet you choose and its breed, potential grooming costs.
The least expensive pet to own and care for is one of the smallest: a fish. If you forgo the exotic breeds and a large, filtered aquarium, you can have one or two fish, like goldfish or betas, in a small bowl for $35 a year.
Then there are birds, and a smaller variety like parakeets or finches require little cost once you actually buy the birds and outfit their cages. There is the cleanup up in those cages to consider, but costs to maintain run about $200 a year.
Of course, neither of those choices are pet-able pets. If your little one is determined to have a small cuddly critter, so-called “pocket pets” may be the answer for you. Small mammals such as mice, gerbils, hamsters are popular choices. The cleaning of their cages will undoubtedly fall to mom or dad. And sex determination of these pets is often fallacious, which is why having just one at a time might be a good option. But you can care and maintain for one of these small mammals for about $300 a year. For their larger cousin, the guinea pig, costs soar to $635.
That cute little kitten will require immunizations and neutering, in addition to food and litter box contents. Many cat owners decide to have the their cats de-clawed on their front claws, which vets say does not prevent them from climbing trees or protecting themselves outdoors as they use their hind claws for both, but does save on your upholstery and children’s scratches. Budget $495 for that soft kitty.
Then we come to the dogs, available in so many sizes and breeds you need a good dog breed book to find the proper fit for your family. But please remember that there are so many good-natured dogs waiting for homes in shelters for a reasonable cost, and many families will opt to rescue a dog while going easier on their budget, as popular puppy breeds can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand.
Budget $355 for a small dog; $470 for a medium pal and $650 for a large breed dog. Dogs give unconditional love and are always happy to see you, but require an investment of time and exercise, so take that into account.
You would have thought that large breed dog would have been the most expensive pet to budget for, right? Eco Lassie certainly did. But according to the ASPCA, who gave her all of these budget numbers, the number one most expensive pet for the homeowner to maintain is … the rabbit! Living for ten+ years, rabbit care comes in at a whopping $730 a year. Let’s hope Eco Lassie’s friend makes the right choice for her family, but at least it will be an informed choice now.