The True Costs and Benefits of Owning a Pet

owning a pet

Owning a Pet

First off lets talk about what a pet can do for you. Ask anyone and they will tell you that a pet is part of the family. Over half of US households own one or more companion animals — dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles, pigs, hamsters, ferrets and the like. In this article from Pedigree they discuss the benefits of owning an animal and then I will discuss the costs of owning an animal.

Did you know your dog could help you live longer?

Tests have shown that owning a pet can help people attain a better level of physical and mental health. For example, petting your dog can lower your heart rate and your blood pressure, and even promote healing. Following are a few of the gifts sharing your life with a dog gets you — not just on Valentine’s Day but all year round.

Lower stress levels and a healthy heart

Petting and spending time with your dog can sooth you and help you relax, causing your heartbeat to slow and your blood pressure to drop. Research has shown that this reduction is particularly noticeable in people who suffer from high-blood pressure.

Your dog can reduce stress in all areas of your life. Amazingly, studies of women undergoing stress tests have demonstrated that the presence of a dog had more effect on lowering blood pressure than the presence of friends. Also, recent studies show that having pets at work lowers stress levels and makes employees more productive.

Research has also shown that dog owners who have suffered a heart attack had a better survival rate one year after the heart attack than people without pets. Whether the health benefits of sharing your life with a dog are the result of your bond with your dog or the extra exercise you get through walks and visits to the park isn’t clear, but does it really matter? It just goes to prove what dog owners know intuitively — their lives are richer because they share their home with their dog.

Health Benefits of Owning a Dog:

  • Decreased blood pressure.
  • Decreased cholesterol levels.
  • Decreased triglyceride levels.
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness.
  • Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities.
  • Increased opportunities for socialization.

Now lets talk about the costs of owning a pet:

Here is a pet cost calculator:

Pet Calculator

First there is the cost of the animal, anywhere from $75 at your local animal shelter to $1,000 or more for a rare pure-bred animal. Then there is the initial cost of spaying and neutering, $50 – $100 and first shots at $75 – $150. Yearly you can expect to pay around $100 – $200 for shots, pest medications and tags. I have healthcare for my dog and it costs $250 per year and it takes care of his medications, doctor’s visits and major medical work.

Before you get the new pet home, you need to stop for food, toys, a bed, a collar, leash, dog house, etc. Food only runs about $4-5 a week for a puppy, but an adult can cost up to $10 a week for a small dog, and $15 or more a week for a larger dog. Cats, regardless of age, can be fed for about $4 a week, but don’t forget the added cost of litter and litter boxes.

In the last few years, the popularity of pet insurance has been on the rise. The average pet insurance policy will run about $250 a year, which may sound high until you realize that one overnight stay at an emergency vet clinic could easily equate to $500. In fact, Americans spend about $11.1 billion on veterinary medicine each year, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

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