3 Hidden Costs of Owning a Pet

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  • There are certain pet-related expenses most people know to budget for.
  • There are also surprise expenses that could throw your budget for a loop.
  • You might need to upgrade your vehicle, change your vacation accommodations, or pay for grooming.

These could really sneak up on you.

Adopting a pet is a huge undertaking -- both logistical and financial. It can cost thousands of dollars a year to own a pet when you factor in expenses like food, medication, supplies, and pet insurance premiums. But while you probably know to account for those costs, here are some lesser-known expenses that might creep up on you as a pet owner.

1. Needing a bigger car

Large dogs and small cars don't always mix. Let's say you own a smaller car as a family of five and adopt a 65-pound dog. You might manage to have a seat for every human in that vehicle. But where's the dog going to go?

Some animal lovers learn the hard way that adopting a pet also means having to spring for a larger vehicle that can accommodate them. And that introduces a whole world of extra expenses, like auto loan payments and higher fuel costs (since larger vehicles tend to use more gas).

2. Having to pay more for pet-friendly vacation rentals or hotels

There are some hotels and many private vacation rentals that will allow you to bring a pet along -- but at a price. In some cases, you'll pay a nonrefundable pet fee to cover the cost of things like having to clean up pet hair or potential light damage, like scratches on a floor or wall. In other cases, you'll simply be charged a much higher nightly rate for the option to bring a pet along on your travels.

To be clear, it's often less expensive to pay up for a pet-friendly rental than it is to board your pet or find a pet sitter while you travel. And that way, your pet gets to come along and be part of the fun. But you'll probably need to pad your vacation budget if you plan to travel with a pet.

3. Having to pay for groomings

You might assume that you'll be able to take care of your pet's grooming needs on your own -- especially if you adopt a dog with a short coat. But remember, grooming often goes beyond your basic shampoo. Animals need their nails cut, for example, and you have a large, squirmy dog who tackles you to the ground every time you try to get near them with a nail trimmer, you may end up having to outsource that task.

As such, it's a good idea to assume you'll end up spending some money on grooming appointments. You can shop around for the most competitive price in town, but you'll need to spend something.

Adopting a pet really is a wonderful thing. But before you go that route, take a look at your budget and make sure you can really afford the various expenses at hand. And if you're worried you're not financially ready to adopt a pet, hold off. It's natural to want to bring an animal into your home, especially if you come across one in need. But you're better off doing so at a time when you can really manage the various expenses involved.

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