Should You Keep Your Pet if Your Finances Change?

Pets bring joy to households around the country, but sometimes life can throw you a curveball. People lose their jobs, get unexpected medical bills, or face any number of financial hardships. When these things happen, it is common to ask whether keeping your pet is a financially sound decision.

The answer is complicated. It depends on each case. Most people facing economic changes can keep their pets thanks to social programs and organizations that assist with pet finances. However, there might be a point when it could be better to say goodbye. 

This article will look at the different options people can turn to keep their pets during financial turmoil and how to determine whether it makes sense to keep a pet or consider alternative options.

Why Do We Have Pets?

According to the National Institute of Health, there are several reasons that people choose to have a pet. Whether it has fur, feathers, scales, or something else, about 67% of American families own a pet. 


The most popular reason for getting a pet is friendship. Pets can offer unconditional love and can understand how their owner is feeling. Your pet can offer cuddles or extra emotional support by sympathizing with you.

Having a pet is a responsibility. Owning a pet means taking care of your pet, keeping your pet healthy and fed, and catering to your pet’s needs. This creates a strong, positive relationship that bonds the pet and owner, creating a trusting friendship.

Positive Effects on Health

Owning a pet has positively affected the owner’s health and well-being. For example, petting a cat or dog decreases cortisol levels (the “stress” hormone) and lowers blood pressure. Other studies have shown that having a pet can prevent depression and boost mood.

In addition, pets can help with specific issues such as autism or attention deficit disorder (ADHD). Researchers are still determining how having a pet can improve these issues, but studies have shown positive results.

Lastly, having a pet is excellent for physical health. Whether you go running with your dog or are cleaning out hay bales for your horse, having a pet can often mean more physical activity for both the pet and the owner.

Pet Assistance

People also get pets to assist them in their everyday life or help other household animal. For example, there are emotional support pets and service animals, like seeing-eye dogs. Depending on the animal, you can train your pet to do certain activities, such as sniffing out drugs or providing comfort at hospitals. 

Having a pet can also serve another non-human purpose: helping another pet. Sometimes, pets can help other pets who need emotional support or physical stimulation.

How Much Does It Cost to Have a Pet? 

The cost of owning a pet may vary depending on the animal and its specific needs. 

Things that can add up:

  • Vet visits
  • Habitat (some pets need special equipment in their habitat, such as tropical fish)
  • Pet food
  • Accessories such as clothes, collars, and toys.

Because pets can be an integral part of the family, pet owners tend to ensure that their animals are cared for. Regular care for a pet can cost hundreds of dollars a month. Some food, medical procedures, medicines, and other items can become monthly expenses for your pet.

Keeping Your Pet When Finances Are Tight

If you are low-income and trying to decide whether to keep your pet, know that there are options for you to use that can help you with continued pet ownership.

Low-Income Organizations

Many organizations and nonprofits work with low-income pet owners. Some, such as Pets Lifeline, provide pet food, vet visit payments, and training classes for free or very low costs.

These places realize that pets play a significant role in the family and deserve the care and attention that other family members do. Because of this, most of them will work closely with the people and can often produce personalized financial plans to help both pet owners and their creatures. 

Owning some pets might be more expensive than others. Having a dog or a cat might be less expensive than owning a snake or a tarantula. Similarly, owning a fish (or managing an aquarium) can be a more manageable expense as well. So, choose your pet wisely.

Choose Your Purchases Wisely

Some things may be necessary for a pet’s life, while others are a luxury. If money becomes an issue, cutting back on these unnecessary extra expenses may help. Food and habitat equipment are musts. Be certain as to whether your purchases for your pet are necessary and not things that can wait for later.  

Look Into Pet Wellness Plans 

Pet owners may save money in the future by signing up for pet wellness plans today. Pet insurance can be expensive, but with wellness plans, there is a specific focus on prevention and early diagnosis so pets do not get sick in the first place. 

There are various wellness plans out there, but most will be cheaper than traditional pet insurance and often include a set number of wellness visits per year plus discounts or coverage of shots and other forms of pet care. 

When to Consider Giving Up Your Pet 

Despite all your efforts and budgeting, sometimes it may be best to let go of a pet when your finances change. Here are some reasons to consider saying goodbye to your pet.

Pet Care Interferes with Necessary Finances

When pet care becomes so expensive that it interferes with your ability to manage other necessary finances, it might be time to rethink things. While you may consider pets part of the family, your human family members’ needs are prioritized. Therefore, you might want to reconsider owning a pet if your finances do not allow that.

On a brighter note, sometimes friends or another family would be willing to take your pet until you are ready to take them back. Some shelters will rehome pets, but you are likely to miss getting the pet back.

Lack of Time 

Another reason to consider giving up a pet is if your finances drastically change your schedule. Pet ownership requires time and money. If you have to work multiple jobs to make enough money to support yourself and a family, then having a pet may be more of a burden.

It can become bad for your pet’s health if you work all the time. This can result in mental and physical problems for your pet. In addition, keeping your pet occupied during the day while you are working might cost more. If these expenses become too hard to manage, it might be time to consider alternative options for your pet. 

Owner’s Health and Well-Being 

Financial struggles can often result in a deterioration of mental and physical health. If your health does not allow you to take care of your pet, it might be time to reconsider giving up your pet.

While this article had previously discussed the health benefits of owning a pet, the financial stresses of feeding and taking care of a creature can counteract the positives.

When Your Pet is in Danger (or is a Danger)

If you own a pet that has the potential to put others in danger, you might want to consider giving your pet up. Any injury that your pet inflicts might end up being a greater strain on your budget. This may also be the case if your pet is in danger in your care.

Final Thoughts on Keeping Pets When Finances Change

Going through financial change does not mean giving up a beloved pet. On the contrary, many great organizations want to help pet owners stay with their furry, feathery, or scaly friends. They can be a massive support system for covering the expenses of owning a pet.

It may be possible to keep a pet when money struggles arise, but it depends on individual cases. It is up to the owner to assess just how much of a financial burden keeping a pet will be and whether it will affect the care of themselves or their loved ones.

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