For many Americans, a pet is a much-loved family member. Caring for an animal can be a serious cost, though, especially when life events rock your budget. Many people buy a pet without a clear idea of what care costs, and others may start out with enough but discover that other events have reduced their ability to support their animal companion. Expect an annual cost of at least $500 for a medium sized dog, potentially much higher. Dr. Louise Murray, vice-president of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City, states that pet owners should be prepared to face at least $2000 to $4000 bill for veterinary care. Those are substantial amounts, and for many of us, they can be difficult to bear, especially if there’s another crisis going on.
Fortunately, hundreds of organizations across the United States assist low-income pet-owners and their companion animals, with many focusing on low-cost, subsidized or free veterinary care, temporary foster care, pet food banks and more. Some of these options might be perfect for you. Links to resources discussed here are at the end of this article.
Staying on top of vaccinations, parasite control, weight, exercise, diet, and other preventive care measures are an essential part of reducing its long-term health care costs. Detecting potential problems early on can lessen or eliminate later costs, so you should make sure that your companion has regular exams with the vet. Preventive care is also a good idea from an economic perspective: It’s cheaper to treat a problem in its early stages, and treatment is more likely to be effective during this time.