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Want a New Pet? Costs to Consider and Your Pet Financing Options

pet purchase financing

Pets can add so much to your life, but all that sweet, cuddly companionship (or feathered, scaly, prickly companionship, depending on your preferences) can also add a big bill to your budget.

The exact cost of getting a new pet depends on many factors, including the type of pet you want. When it comes to man’s best friend, for example, the one-time cost of getting a dog is nearly $1,500, according to Rover.com. That includes the purchase price of the dog as well as the cost of the items you need immediately, such as toys, shampoo, a bed, a leash and other accessories. It doesn’t, however, factor in the monthly costs you’ll have after that.

Not everyone can afford to fork over that kind of money upfront, but that doesn’t mean they have to remain petless. Instead, many people resort to pet purchase financing, which allows them to spread out the initial costs of getting a new pet over time. Here’s what you need to know about pet financing, even with bad credit.

Buying a pet? Here are costs to consider first

While your monthly expenses will vary based on the type of pet you own, where you live and your lifestyle, you want to make sure you can afford them before bringing a pet into your life. Ongoing costs to consider include the following.

Grooming

To keep your pet looking and feeling good, they may need trimming, bathing, teeth cleaning and nail clipping. Professional grooming costs an average of $84 per year, while teeth cleaning can run anywhere from $200 to $500. You may be able to save money by doing some of it yourself, but in many cases, you’ll need to purchase the proper equipment to do so.

Food

The cost of food will vary based on the size and type of your pet, but it can be pricey. Rover.com estimates the price of dog food to be between $40 and $60 a month.

Medical

Of course, you want to keep your pet healthy, and that often means annual checkups, vaccines and treatments to prevent issues like heartworm, ticks and fleas. Unexpected medical expenses can also pop up at any time should your pet get injured or fall sick. An annual pet exam averages $250, while flea and tick prevention costs $40-$200 a month and heartworm prevention runs $24-$120 each month.

Pet sitting and daycare

If you work all day or travel frequently and can’t take your pet along, then you’ll likely have to pay someone to care for it while you can’t. That may mean hiring a dog walker, pet sitter, doggie daycare or paying to board your pet while you’re away. Costs will vary depending on where you live and how frequently you need the services, but on average, pet sitting runs about $30 per night.

Miscellaneous costs

Then there are those other things you regularly find yourself in need of or simply want for your pet. Think items like poop bags, treats, kitty litter, leashes and that new squeaky toy you just know they’ll love. Depending on your pet owner personality, things like pet sweaters, pet massages and even doggie yoga can add up, too.

Beware of scams when buying a pet

Once you’re sure you can handle the financial commitment of having a pet, you want to make sure your money is well spent. Unfortunately, there are a variety of pet-related scams out there that will try to sell you pets that are seriously sick or that don’t even exist.

Many of these scams happen on the internet, where it’s easy to browse and fall in love with pictures of an adorable pet. The ugly truth, however, is that at least 80% of the ads you see when searching online for a pet are fraudulent, according to the Better Business Bureau. Some pets are offered for “free” while others come with high price tags, but in all cases, the scammers will eventually ask for money, often requesting that it be sent via Western Union or MoneyGram.

Some warning signs that you may be dealing with a pet scam include:

  1. The “seller” wants you to commit to purchasing a pet without you ever seeing it in person.
  2. You’re asked to send money to someone you don’t know via MoneyGram or Western Union.
  3. The price seems off (e.g., a purebred dog is being offered for an unusually low price) and/or the seller requests additional fees beyond the initially agreed upon price for special transportation costs and unexpected veterinary bills.
  4. The photo of the pet you’re purchasing can be found elsewhere on the web. You can use reverse image searching services, such as TinEye, to check.

To find a reputable breeder for dogs in particular, you can use the American Kennel Club’s Puppy Finder. For all other pet purchases, make sure you meet the seller and see the animal in person, or at the very least via live video. Also, make pet purchases with a credit card, so you can dispute any charges if you suspect a scam.

3 pet financing options for good and bad credit

Personal loans

Personal loans are a type of installment loan that you pay back over a set term with a fixed interest rate. To qualify for a personal loan, a lender will typically consider your credit score, income and payment history. If your credit is poor, you may still qualify but you may wind up with sky-high interest rates, which may make a personal loan a bad option.

To put things into perspective, the average APR for personal loans in the first quarter of 2019 was 33.38%. However, rates ranged from 7.25% for borrowers with credit scores above 720 to 136.50% for borrowers with credit scores less than 560.

If you’re already on shaky ground financially, a high-interest loan may make things even worse. In fact, research by LendingTree shows that the delinquency rate for personal loans is higher than for other types of loans, such as mortgages, auto loans and credit cards. However, if you can secure a loan with solid terms and have a plan to pay it off in a timely manner, then a personal loan may be an option worth considering to purchase your pet.

Pros

  • Loans are unsecured, so you don’t have collateral on the line.
  • Fixed interest rates allow you to budget with predictability.
  • Interest rates for personal loans are often lower than credit cards. For example, some personal loans currently have interest rates as low as 3.99% APR, while the average credit card interest rate is 13.64%.

Cons

  • Those with very poor credit and no income may not qualify.
  • The interest rates and other terms may not be favorable if you don’t have good credit.
  • Interest, no matter how low, can accumulate over time if you don’t have a plan to pay off the loan in a timely manner.

Low-interest credit card

If you have a strong credit history, you may be able to qualify for a credit card with a low interest rate or one with a zero introductory rate for a set period of time. In many cases, this will allow you to pay for the upfront costs of securing your pet and, as long as you can pay it off quickly, do so without paying much or any interest at all.

Just make sure you can make the payments, as once the introductory period is up, the interest rate may increase significantly and leave you with a big bill. Additionally, some cards have deferred interest, which means you’d be charged interest retroactively on any remaining balance at the end of the promotional period.

Pros

  • Easy to acquire if you have strong credit and a solid income.
  • You may be able to secure funds with zero interest.

Cons

  • Not everyone qualifies for a credit card with low or no interest.
  • If you can’t pay off the card within the introductory period, you could get hit with high interest rates.

Payment plans

If your credit score doesn’t qualify you for a personal loan or low-interest credit card, you may still be eligible for a pet payment plan or lease. Companies such as PetLoans.com and WagsLending.com, as well as breeders such as Puppyspot.com, offer financing for people who want to purchase pets and pet supplies, then set up a payment plan for you to pay back the funds in monthly installments.

While these plans can help you get the pet of your dreams even if you have less-than-stellar credit, they also typically come with steep fees and/or interest rates. Additionally, these programs aren’t allowed in every state. For example, PetLoans.com doesn’t offer loans in Connecticut, West Virginia, New Hampshire and Vermont, and Puppyspot doesn’t offer financing in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico.

Pros

  • Allows you to get a pet even if you have poor credit.
  • Financing for large pet purchases is available depending on your credit.
  • Plans typically have fixed payment options and terms.

Cons

  • You may face steep interest rates and/or fees.
  • Plans may not be an option depending on where you live.

Curbing the cost of your next pet

While purchasing a pet isn’t cheap, most pet owners will tell you they are worth every penny — and then some. There are, however, ways you can save when it comes to purchasing a pet, including the following:

  • Look for used supplies and equipment: You may not need to buy everything new, such as leashes, bowls, toys and other gear. Check with people you know who may not be using theirs anymore and online sites for people selling it at a discount.
  • Explore adopting a pet: While there are still costs involved, they are typically significantly lower than the cost of purchasing a pet from a breeder. According to org, buying typically costs $500-$1,000 more than adopting, as you often save on costs like spaying or neutering and initial vaccinations.
  • Look into shared ownership or leasing: For large animals, such as horses, consider shared ownership or leasing arrangements.
  • Be vigilant about vaccines and shots. While the vet bill may sting (according to Rover.com, it’s about $75-$100 annually for vaccines and $250 for annual checkups), they’re also one of the best ways to prevent serious and more costly health problems for your pets.

Buying a pet is a big commitment that you must be prepared for both emotionally and financially. While you can’t anticipate every scenario, knowing what to expect and planning for it as best as possible can ensure a healthy and happy life for your pet and your finances.

 

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