The Money Pet

We’ve all heard about a house or other project that’s a major “money pit”.  While not as widely recognized, there are also “money pets”.  If you’re a Pet Person, you’ve probably had at least one in your life.  It’s the stray that never leaves and becomes a part of the family, developing health problems that are quite expensive to treat.  Or is perfectly healthy, but a picky eater who’ll only eat the pet equivalent of filet mignon.  Let’s put things in perspective.

As a Pet Person, I’m not suggesting that you have Fido put to sleep the minute he gets injured.  But we need to be realistic about the finances of pet ownership just like we are the rest of the family financial commitments and this often gets very emotional input from the kids.  Here are some ideas to exhibit sanity without being on the SPCA watch list.

         Everyone can be picky about what they eat, but we all need to eat a diet that fits our pocketbook.  It’s fine to get a few pricey treats for your pet, but if your expensive food treats are only occasional, the pets should eat a reasonably priced stable diet. 

         If every cute pet toy ends up in your shopping cart when the kids are along, tell them they can buy those items with their money if they wish, but otherwise the pet gets basic needs met.

         Don’t get a pet unless you can afford one.  Even if you’re trying to save the life of a stray, taking it in while you put an ad in the paper to find the animal a good home can be less expensive than keeping it long term.  Also, many local animal shelters have “foster pet” programs where the shelter will provide food to families who keep animals until they can be placed.

Depleting your financial resources for a choice you can’t afford is never good for you or your family.  Only bring a pet to your home after considering all the costs, including vet bills, food, and potential damage to your home.