Man’s best friend. Or his kitty counterpart. We love our pets, don’t we?! 68% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to roughly 84.6 million homes. That number is up from a 1998 survey that found only 56% of households owned one. But is your pet priceless? Americans as a whole spent $69.5 billion on pets in 2017 which is $3 billion more than the year before.
Since you won’t hurt us if you throw things at us through the screen we will say, put a price on your pet. Here’s what we mean.
First, you need to know we LOVE our dog, Zac. We named our dog after Zac Brown Band after we saw them with the boys two days earlier. Both Zacs do have hairy faces.
We love our Zac SO MUCH but in order to make a sound decision in the heat of the moment, we consulted our family AND our budget and decided how much we are willing to spend on him for: annual care, surgeries, teeth cleanings, physical therapy, etc.
If your pet is priceless and there is no limit to what you’d spend on your hairy pal, that’s fine, but we beg you (do we get a treat?) to discuss it as a couple. Decide now, not when you’re rushing to the vet’s office or the urgent car for animals. Or after one of you explodes about the vet bill.
For example, there is a new pet therapy center not far from our office that has a therapy pool for dogs. Bethany and I discussed, “Is that a great option or is that too expensive?”
Decide now before Dr. Dog announces that Pooch’s odd limp would be “improved” by therapy. Or “he’d heal quicker with therapy.” Know your numbers before Fido has yours.
To avoid a catfight😹, discuss spending limits on these 6 areas with your spouse:
- Routine checkups
- Lab tests, x-rays, MRIs
- Physical Therapy or Chemotherapy
Some national averages:
- Grooming $85
- Surgeries $475
- Boarding $320
- Routine checkups $260
- Vitamins $60
- Food $235
- Treats $70
- Toys $50
We have set limits for the categories and we also discovered we save money in the vitamins and toys category. Maybe we’d have less vet visits if we add vitamins to our pet shopping list. Hmm.
Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association says, “No matter the primary cause of increased spending on pets, be it enhanced nutrition, better healthcare, increased pampering, or greater technology, the one thing we know for sure is that pet owners have a top priority in pursuing longer, healthier lives for their pets.”
Housing and Pets
Another way that pets affect finances is the trend in millennials selecting homes based on what is best for their pet. 33% of millennials picked their house based on the yard for their dog. When asked if kids played into their purchase decision, only 19% of the same respondents said yes.
This month we are electing to get Zac some surgery in hopes of improving his quality of life. Our little chubby Shih Tzu gets Ear canal removal surgery to stop his chronic ear infections. We have tried pills, allergy testing, different food, and a host of other fixes, but nothing worked. Our vet suggested this with a $2,300 price tag.
Bethany is not thrilled. But Zac has told me his ear hurts. 😹
Since the surgery is below our top limit. It was an easy decision for Bethany to agree to even though she doesn’t necessarily agree with it. Her yes was punctuated by an aggressive eye roll.
Bethany’s limit is $5,000 and mine is $10,000. So we don’t agree, but we compromise at $7,500. It helps to know our money plan before we are faced with something like a double hip replacement which is way past our limit.
Surgical intervention for an object too large to be passed naturally can run $3,000. So it’s good to decide now what your limits are or if you even want to set limits.
We strongly suggest pet insurance to save on their golden years’ expenses. We plan to get some for our next dog. But insurance certainly depends on your breed. Shih Tzu’s are high maintenance. But there’s no doubt we will get another when Zac goes to doggie heaven. Sturdier breeds might not profit from insurance as much.
The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) reports North America’s pet health insurance sector posted record growth in 2017, with combined gross written premiums hitting $1.2 billion.
This represents a 23 percent increase in gross written premiums over 2016. The total number of pets insured in the U.S. and Canada reached 2.1 million at year-end 2017 up by 17 percent from 2016. According to NAPHIA, there are 12 major pet insurance companies in North America
We love our Zac. He is definitely an important and loved part of our family. We can’t imagine life without him. It’s easy to get super out of control with your finances for your pet though so decide now how much makes sense.
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Scott & Bethany Palmer
The Money Couple