Pets as presents? Weigh the costs…

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image courtesy flick user Mike Schmid

Everyone loves the idea of a cute puppy or kitten as a holiday gift, but the cost of buying or adoping a pet is only the beginning. According to the ASPCA, the first year of your new family member’s life with you can cost between $300 and $2,000 – and that doesn’t include emergency veterinary services or boarding!

There are ways to keep costs down, however, without sacrificing the health and happiness of your new furry friend.

Packaged vet care

Many veterinarians and animal hospitals offer well puppy (or kitten) packages – bundled services that can save you 20% or more on the necessary services you’ll need, like spay or neuter services, vaccines, parasite prevention medications, and other checkups. Ask your vet (or look on their web site) for lists of included and excluded services and price comparisons.

Pet insurance

Just as our costs for health care can spiral out of control if we didn’t have insurance, so can veterinary costs. Companies like VPI offer plans at different price and coverage points – ask your vet for advice on what plans she would recommend for your dog or cat.

Extend your pet’s family

The average American dog-owning family spends about $300 a year on boarding. Pet sitters can be a more personal and cost-effective solution, but you should also consider finding friends to trade pet sitting with among your existing social network. You’ll not only be giving your dog a “home away from home” experience with another dog lover, you’ll be building a support network for your pets.

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