The cost of owning a dog, cat, or other pet might not be the first thing on your mind when contemplating bringing one of these furry balls of love home, but it’s best to know what your financial responsibilities are upfront. Petfinder averages the costs of owning a dog at around $766–$1,350 the first year, and $526–$9,352 each year after. The cost of a cat is a bit less, but similar.
Much of that money will go toward vet bills and pet food, but one oft overlooked financial drain is on your home. News flash: Dogs and cats can do a decent amount of damage to furniture, rugs, and other things in your home. So if you’ve just bought a gorgeous new couch or redone your hardwood floors, it’s best that you know what could happen now that Travis the terrier or Humbert the Havana brown in the house. Here’s a rundown of what to expect, and how to curb the damage.
There’s no way around it: Carpets take a serious beating when it comes to pets. We have had to get rid of every carpet we have ever owned within a year or so, thanks to our 17-year-old dog. Over the course of his life, I would guess we’ve disposed of about $1,000 in rugs (we always buy cheap ones for this reason). But for those with wall-to-wall carpeting, the costs are even worse.
Chad Hall, CEO of RemodelMate, breaks it down. “Carpet traps odors and stains easily, so be prepared to deep-clean your carpet every three to six months. Typically, this will cost around $150 per room,” Hall says. “I also recommend replacing carpet and padding every two years, which generally costs around $3 per square foot when you factor in carpet, padding, and installation.”
To save on long-term carpet damage, think about getting carpet made from nylon fibers. They absorb less and clean up better from pet accidents. Always mention you have pets when installing carpet, Hall says, and the company helping you should be able to point you in the right direction.
Hardwood floors make some things easier because they “don’t absorb odors, but they will get stained or scratched over time if you’re not careful,” Hall says. “Protect your floors by cleaning up spills and accidents quickly. Also, keep an area rug or two around, or you’ll need to pay $5 per square foot to sand away scratches and refinish your hardwood floors.”
Walls and trim
No one thinks of the walls when it comes to pet damage, but I have personally had a couple of “spray” incidents with my cat and a few sad, wet baseboards thanks to my dog’s leg lift. My cat is also fond of using our baseboard as a scratching post.
“Drywall and trim are porous materials that will absorb moisture and hold onto odors over time,” Hall says. “Repainting can help manage this problem, but will run you around $550 per room on average. Also, baseboards that may have been chewed on or scratched up over time can be replaced for less than $1 per linear foot.”
It adds up. Trust me.
Prevention is key here. Make sure pets have plenty of scratching posts and places to relieve themselves to cut down on spray. Common advice tends to be that each cat needs its own litter box and that box needs to be scooped daily and cleaned once a week.
Cats and dogs bring critters into your home: Think fleas, ticks, and “presents” in the form of dead rats and mice. Our cat had a habit of maiming mice just enough that they could crawl away into the wall where they would die, make our house stink, get maggots, and then produce a plague of flies.
“Exterminators often charge more than $200 to show up, then an hourly rate to address the pest problem,” Hall says. “Even if your pet doesn’t hide food, they may attract fleas. Even if you’re a great pet parent, these pests can take over a living space and lead to costly remediation expenses in no time.”
Again, you need to play defense here. Keep up with all flea and tick treatments for your pets, even more so if they spend time outdoors. Don’t expect your cat to be the mouser. If you have mice, lock the cats up and deal with them yourself to avoid half-dead mice finding hiding spots.
Windows and doors
Windowsills take a beating when dogs place their paws there to bark out the window. Dog owner Gary Castelle learned this the hard way, and decided to do something about it.
“After years of constantly repainting my sills, they finally got to the point where the wood was so damaged, they had to be replaced,” he says on his website, sillshield.com, where he sells windowsill covers (in clear or white) made of a durable vinyl siding. At a mere $12 to $14 based on width, they’re far cheaper than replacing your sills completely.
Dogs can also scratch and damage doors if they want out, so consider a dog door so your pets can come and go as they please. Here are various types of dog doors that could make their comings and goings way easier on you.
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and the New Haven Register.