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Your Guide to the Costs of Pet Ownership

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

Read By: Pet Lovers
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Pets are an integral part of our lives. They are our companions, confidants and, occasionally, saviors. They provide unconditional love and always seem to be there when we need them the most. In exchange, their health and well-being are our responsibility.

Many people don't stop to think that owning a pet involves a financial as well as emotional commitment. Over the years, the costs do add up. For instance, an owner may spend an average of $11,200 during the average life span of a small or medium sized dog (about 14 years).

Before embarking on a lifelong commitment, do a little research and know what is in store. The cost of owning a pet is an important consideration and may even help you decide which pet is best for you and your budget.

What It Costs to Own a Horse. Good horses don't come cheap. If you're in the market for a horse, you may be checking out newspaper ads, equine forums on the Internet, your state's agricultural bulletin, notices on tack and feed stores or livestock auctions – all in search of the right horse at a good price. Depending on the animal's breeding, health, age, size and ability, a recreational riding horse can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to many thousands. The initial cost of the horse, however, is only the beginning.

Costs of Dog Ownership. If you are someone who wants a companion to share indoor and outdoor activities, that can learn commands and even a few tricks, think of getting a dog. But as with any pet, caring for a dog entails cost. With a dog, costs often include training, food, veterinary care and toys, among other things.

What It Costs to Own a Cat. If you want a pet with some independence, yet still will cuddle and enjoy your company, consider a pet of the feline variety. These animals make excellent pets, and you can learn how much you can expect to pay.

What It Costs to Own a Bird. You may decide to share your life with a fine feathered friend. Birds readily develop deep attachments to their owners and make wonderful pets. If you have decided that a bird suits your fancy, remember that caging, food and toys are required. Keeping them happy and healthy is your responsibility.

What It Costs to Own a Small Mammal. Looking for a small pet? Hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs are popular and easy maintenance. In fact, they are among the least expensive pets to own. But, just because they are small doesn't mean you don't have to spend any money on them.

What It Costs to Own a Reptile. For a walk on the cold-blooded side, consider a reptile. Snakes, turtles and lizards are quiet pets that don't expect too much, just a proper environment and adequate food. Some don't even enjoy human contact, but they are interesting and colorful pets. But there are some surprising costs involved.

What It Costs to Own Fish. Let's not forget the pets that provide beauty and peace within their own little world. Fish have been found to have a profound calming influence on people and are a great addition to anyone's home.

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