Pet ownership: Can you afford it? -

Pet ownership: Can you afford it?

Pet pro Luciano Aguilar has some tips to help keep your pets from breaking the bank.

It's easy to get excited about adopting a new pet, but the costs of keeping one are often overlooked. The ASPCA estimates owning a dog, a cat, or even a rabbit can cost more than $1,000 a year - and that's if they don't get sick. But there are some easy things you can do to help lower the cost of pet ownership.

The first step is to work out a budget before committing to pet ownership. Be sure to consider things like pet food, toys and visits to the vet. If you're comfortable with the estimated costs, then let the search begin.

Something to keep in mind - even the healthiest animals need regular medical care. So shop around online or search Yelp for the best vet deals in your area. Different vets charge different prices for the same things.

Don't forget about your pet's teeth. Get regular cleanings at the vet and brush their teeth at home, too. Pet periodontal disease can lead to dangerous and costly infections that spread to the rest of the body. 

Now, more and more people are getting pet insurance. It can save thousands when pets get sick, but read the fine print. If you buy a basic policy but have an elderly pet, you could be wasting money.

Next, don't just buy any old pet food. Your pet could refuse to eat it, or it could even make them sick. So choose food that fits your pet's flavor preferences, lifestyle, medical conditions and environment. And remember top brands aren't always the healthiest choice.

One more thing: don't waste money on doggie dress-up and feline fashion. Your pet doesn't need a fancy costume to know they're loved.

Keep in mind that some pets are more expensive than others. You could spend thousands a year on any pet. But take birds for example: The ASPCA says some species live between 25 and 60 years—much longer than dogs and cats. Plus, birds need specialized vet care; specialized environments in your home, and most will eat half their weight in food every day.

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