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Financial considerations before adding a pet to the family

Date posted:  5/17/16 09:00:00 AM

Aside from having an adorable buddy to come home to, there are a number of additional benefits associated with owning a pet. According to Animal Planet, there are a number of health benefits you and your family may experience after adopting a furry friend. From preventing allergies among children to improving your fitness, animals can have an overwhelming positive impact on you and your family. 

However, before you decide to head out to  adopt a new member of the family, it is critical to work out the financial impact of having a cat or dog. 

Vet expenses 
Adopting a pet also means taking care of a pet, so you will need to ensure your furry friend is healthy, which means paying for the services of a veterinarian. Annual medical expenses can cost as much as $235 for a dog and $130 for a cat, according to Money Under 30. 

In addition, when you spay or neuter your dog or cat it will cost about $200 or $145 respectively. Some adoption centers provide these services for free. Call before visiting to confirm which medical treatments are included in the adoption price, like vaccinations and testing. 

Outside of these expenses, there may be additional emergency trips to the vet if your pet swallows something he shouldn't have or becomes sick. These additional medical costs can quickly add up and you should be prepared. 

Invest in pet insurance 
According to Consumers Advocate, you can sign up for pet insurance to help you cover the medical costs associated with owning an animal. However, make sure you still have savings in place for expensive emergency situations. 

It's important to enroll as soon as possible because no insurance provider will cover pre-existing conditions. So make the move early while your pet is still eligible for coverage. 

Investing in insurance coverage for your four-legged friend will help alleviate some of the costs associated with owning an animal. It also provides peace of mind knowing you won't have to worry about gathering funds or delaying care for your pet when the unexpected happens. 

Know what you can write-off 
Fortunately, there are some tax benefits to owning a pet. According to Bankrate, if you move with your pet, you can deduct the costs of special transportation. However, you'll need to fill out the appropriate paperwork and file it with the Form 1040 and Form 3903 before claiming the deduction. 

If you rescued or fostered your pet from a shelter, this may qualify you for a charitable deduction. Ensure you keep documentation of all costs and keep a record with the shelter you worked with during the transition. 

In addition, if you bring your dog to your place of business as security, this may qualify as a standard business deduction. But, note that breeds typically used for protective purposes are more reputable for a business deduction than a less-intimidating dog. 

Food costs 
When you bring home a pet, you'll obviously need to set aside a budget for food. Depending on the breed and appetite of the animal, the cost can vary. Money Under 30 indicated the average annual cost of food for a dog and cat is about $120 and $145 respectively. However, special dietary needs and preferences may alter the actual pricing. 

Also, you should note this does not include the cost of treats. Depending on the personality of your puppy or kitten, they may or may not enjoy a special treat every now and then. Treats are helpful when used as a reward during training, which is especially important for young animals. 

The amount of money you are willing to spend on a pet should influence the type of animal you decide to invest in - if at all. 

While cats do not necessarily need training, dogs definitely do. Even if you adopt an adult dog, you need to train him or her regularly. 

The cost of training classes can add up quickly, and even if you decide a puppy class isn't your style, you'll need to dedicate time to the process. In addition, there is a high likelihood that your puppy-in-training will cause some damage that can really add up. So accounting for the possibility of a scratched wall, chewed up crown molding or ruined couch isn't out of the question. 

Toys and scratching posts 
Depending on the personality and playfulness of your dog or cat, you'll also want to invest in entertaining toys. From scratch posts to dog bones, you'll want to have some money for those extra fun items for your pets enjoyment. 

When pets become bored, they are more likely to turn your personal belongings into their own toys, so investing in those items now is always a good idea. 

Other miscellaneous needs
Pets have additional needs you will need to account for. From beds to carrying crates and litter boxes, the costs of owning a pet can add up quickly. Consider heading to your local adoption center and pet supply store to add up the cost of everything you need to invest in for your new addition. This can help you gain a better understanding of the financial commitment necessary for a pet. 

Whether you are just beginning the conversation about possibly adopting or you have always known you want a family pet, knowing what expenses you'll need to plan for is critical. So start your research now to ensure you are fully prepared for another member of the family.