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How to Prepare Financially for Pet Ownership


Welcoming a new pet into the home is an exciting experience for many families. In fact, more than half of all Americans own at least one pet, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

However, families often don’t think about the financial impact of pet ownership. For example, families spend an average of nearly $3,100 to care for a dog during the first year of ownership and an average of more than $23,000 over the dog’s lifetime, according to a report published by the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School of Medicine.

Consider the Cost

Therefore, it’s smart to think about the potential financial costs of pet ownership before bringing a new pet into your home. Here are four financial planning tips related to pet ownership:

  1. Budget for pet care costs. Just like your mortgage or rent, utilities and groceries, consider adding pet care costs as a line item to your monthly budget. For example, if you plan to get a dog, you could add a year’s worth of the average dog-care expenses to your monthly budget, or about $260 a month.

You could transfer this amount into your emergency savings account (such as an online money market account) at the end of each month. This way, you’ll have easy access to the money you need when expenses arise instead of having to divert money from other areas — or worse, use a high-interest credit card to pay for dog-care expenses.

  1. Consider purchasing pet health insurance. This kind of insurance is becoming more common as a way to guard against potentially large bills for pet healthcare. Some employers even offer pet health insurance as an employee benefit.

Like health insurance for humans, there is a wide range of different kinds of policies at different prices. Most include coverage for common pet illnesses and accidental injury, preventative care (including annual wellness checks) and routine immunizations, as well as discounts on lab work major medical procedures like surgery.

  1. Look into potential liability related to owning a pet. As a pet owner, you could be held legally liable for property damage or injury caused by your pet to others. Most homeowner’s and/or umbrella insurance policies offer coverage for this kind of liability.

Some policies, however, don’t cover these liabilities if damage or injury is caused by what they consider to be a high-risk or exotic pet, such as certain dog breeds. Therefore, it may be a good idea to talk to your insurance agent before deciding to get certain kinds of dogs or exotic animals.

  1. Think about what will happen to your pet if anything happens to you. Your estate plan may include a last will and testament with detailed instructions about how your children will be cared for in the event of your death or disability. But what about your pets? Dogs and cats live for an average of between 10 and 14 years while some exotic animals like macaws can live for as long as a century.

It’s important to make advance arrangements for the long-term care of your pet in these situations — especially if you live alone. Talk to family members and friends to see if anyone would be willing to adopt your pet should you die or become disabled. Make sure they understand the financial commitment they’re taking on by agreeing to assume this responsibility.

Plan Before Bringing a New Pet Home 

The best time to think about the financial implications of pet ownership is before you bring a new pet into your house. But even if you already own one or more pets, you can still benefit by implementing these pet financial planning tips.

The commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to Frontier Wealth Management, LLC’s (“Frontier”) investment advisory services. This information should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy or a recommendation for any security, market sector or investment strategy. There is no guarantee that the information supplied is accurate or complete. Frontier is not responsible for any errors or omissions, and provides no warranties with regards to the results obtained from the use of the information. Nothing in this document is intended to provide any legal, accounting or tax advice and Frontier does not provide such advice. This information is subject to change without notice and should not be construed as a recommendation or investment advice. You should consult an attorney, accountant or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.