Financial planning for pet ownership: is a loan ever justified?

It’s important to think about money before getting a pet because there are serious financial implications involved in being responsible for an animal. I’ve always suggested that people do up a budget before getting a pet, but this guest article has a new angle: what about taking out a loan to fund the entire venture of pet ownership? I am not sure about the concept: I’d prefer that people save, and that people do budgets from existing income. But perhaps that is overly judgmental of me. I guess people should know all the options, and make their own decisions. This is an interesting topic, so please read on.

Thanks to Samuel Renotte, a final year student in Bachelor of Communication at the University of Technology Sydney, for writing this piece.

Dealing with the finances of pet ownership

Owning a pet is a major responsibility. As a pet owner, you’ll be responsible for organizing food and accessories, exercising your furry family member, providing housing and bedding, and grooming. Along with these financial costs, you’ll need to have enough set aside for regular veterinary care, pet insurance, toys, treats, and council registration. Vet-care and pet-training costs could include things like regular examinations and checks, vaccinations, worming, desexing, microchipping, obedience training, and socialization. For owners who regularly travel, add pet-sitting and dog-walking costs. 

Clearly, a pet is a major financial commitment, costing you thousands of euros/pounds/dollars each year – through the unconditional love of an animal companion can be well worth it. As with any expense, an emergency or unforeseen expense could mean you can’t afford to cover the costs of owning your pet. Initial set up costs might also be unaffordable, and this is where the right pet-financing product could offer a solution. Here’s a quick guide to what pet financing involves and when it could be a good option for you.

What is pet financing?

Pet financing is a loan that lets you finance the set up costs of your pet, much like a car loan for a car. Instead of paying upfront for the initial needs of an adorable puppy, cat, or other animal, you make monthly payments over a given period of time.

Pet financing could also include any type of loan you take out to cover unexpected pet expenses like surgery, medication, or physical therapy. This could be a personal loan or a payday loan, for example. For a beloved animal companion who needs urgent medical care, pet financing might be a solution if you don’t have the funds available.

Having a pet can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, in addition to unexpected medical-treatment costs. The average dog costs $1,400 a year, with costs up to $2,000 or $4,000 in the first year of ownership. The total lifetime cost of owning a dog can be up to $25,000. For cat owners, the cost is slightly less, but cats tend to live longer than dogs. Birds and goldfish tend to be much cheaper to own. As such, some people might also take out pet financing to pay for ongoing expenses like food, grooming, and pet supplies. 

The benefits of pet financing

One major benefit of pet financing is that it can make emergency medical treatment or costly treatments available when you wouldn’t be able to afford them otherwise. As with other aspects of life, unexpected events can happen even if you’re usually responsible for finances and budgeting. Whether it’s your senior dog who needs cataract surgery or your beloved cat who requires dental surgery, vet-care costs can be prohibitively expensive. Your pet could be injured or have a chronic health condition, and like a responsible and loving pet owner, you’d probably do all you can do to help your pet make a full recovery. Additionally, with the right lender, you could secure pet financing quickly so your pet can get the medical care he/she needs in a timely fashion.

Finally, depending on your lender, you might be able to tailor your loan amount and loan term to meet your needs. If you can afford to repay the full amount within a few months, you can avoid a longer loan term and extra interest charges. 

Is pet financing a waste of money?

Pet financing for the set up costs of a pet could be a waste of money depending on the terms and conditions of the loan. If the loan comes with a high-interest rate, you could be wasting your hard-earned money just to service the loan.

On the other hand, if you’re borrowing to pay for medical costs and other expenses, taking out pet financing might not be a waste of money. If you can’t afford the costs otherwise, you might see it as well worth it as you wouldn’t want to see your pet in pain.

Pet financing can support responsible pet ownership

Depending on why you’re taking out financing and the terms of the loan, pet financing can be worth it. If you’re using it to for the initial costs of owning a pet, check the fine print and ensure you’re not paying excessively high interest. Pet financing can be helpful in emergencies when unexpected medical expenses arise and you want to see your pet receiving the best possible medical care. 

As with any type of loan, confirm you can make the repayments by working out a budget. Used appropriately, pet financing can support responsible pet ownership and empower you to take good care of your furry family members.

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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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