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Adopting a Pet for Christmas?

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Thursday, December 06, 2018 | 0 comments
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Image: Tri-color Beagle Puppy by Montree Ladlongmuang on Pixaby

Why is Adopting a Pet for Christmas a Smart (and Frugal) Option?

It is probably best to be clear from the start: pets aren't really an item you can scrimp and save on if you want to provide them with the very best care possible. If you are on a tight budget, it is important to crunch numbers and take note of official lists such as the ASCPA's pet costs list - which indicates the average expenditure you can expect to outlay for each type of pet. If you are confident money won't be an issue, then a good place to find your furry soul mate and make big savings compared to buying a pooch, is by adopting rather than shopping.

How Much will a Dog, Cat or Rabbit Set You Back?

The ASPCA estimates the annual costs for a dog vary between $737 and $1,040 per year. Cats are slightly cheaper, costing their human parents an average of $809 per year. On the cheapest end of the scale are fish (with an annual total of $27) followed by guinea pigs ($304).

Smaller animals may cost less, but dogs and cats continue to be the most popular pet choices for Americans, some 44% of which own a dog and 29% of which own a cat. The relationship between dogs and their four-pawed companions goes way back, and many would say the affection dogs and cats give us is unbeatable.

Pets are not a Seasonal Accessory

You may have heard giving a pet on Christmas is a bad idea, since unwanted pets can end up at the shelter a few weeks after the Christmas tree has been stored away in many homes across America (some call it the Christmas dumpathon). According to Inga Fricke (director of Pet Retention Programs for the US Humane Society) research shows animals given as presents are actually more likely to stay in their new forever home. A good rule of thumb is to only give a pet as a Christmas gift to yourself/your family, or someone you know is trustworthy, has owned a pet before, and has the funds to keep the pet in good condition.

Cutting Back on Costs

There are many ways to significantly lower your monthly expenditure on pets. One is to bulk buy food, toys, and snacks for pets online or to have food and kitty litter delivered regularly, so you aim to use a specific number of bags of litter per month. Sometimes it is worthy paying a little more for a product which will last longer. Quality kitty litter will enable you to scoop out dirty parts daily but change the entire tray only once every three days or so.

Pet insurance is another important investment. Something as small as an eye abrasion (an injury pets can easily sustain when playing outside) can cost thousands to mend, especially if the eye is slow to heal and requires surgery. By insuring your pet as early as possible, you can rest assured no sneaky costs will put a major dent on your savings.

Finally, go DYI as much as you can - your pets won't notice! Why not start out by making your own dog toys? Dogs can go through a toy a day so you can keep him happy and entertained by using old Tshirts bearing your scent - your dog will go ga-ga!

Why is Adoption Ideal?

If you buy a puppy from a breeder, you will need to be prepared to spend up to $800 to have it neutered or spayed. Tack on a price of around $1,000 for a breed puppy and you can see how shopping for a pet can be incompatible with a frugal lifestyle. The total cost of adoption ranges between $200 and $450, and considering this includes microchipping, it's a great way to start off as a responsible but budget-conscious pet owner.

Nothing brings more joy at Christmas time than a living present - the friend, companion, and playmate that is a pet. Before heading for a shelter, pull out your calculator and be realistic about whether or not you can afford a furry addition to your home. If you decide to go full steam ahead, save by taking out pet insurance early in your pet's life and buy in advance, taking advantage of the many online deals and bulk offers appearing throughout the year.

Article By Jocasta Collie

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About Catherine: I have been writing frugal tips since 1982, when I was a young divorced mom of two - for my baby product company, Born to Love. I am now mom to three sons, who are all grown up - and re-married to a wonderful man. We have rescued two little dogs, Denny and Dexter - and Bella, the cat.

Questions? Email me at catherine (at) frugal-freebies.com or post to my Facebook Fan Page!

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