05/23/2012 06:34 pm ET Updated Jul 23, 2012

5 Costs to Consider Before Getting a Pet

By Cassandra Paré, Marketing Manager, Women & Co.

I really love my family dog. A yellow lab with a bit of a mischievous streak and a penchant for chasing down squirrels, he's always brought my family tremendous joy. But boy am I glad he lives with my parents. Because as much as I love him, I know first-hand how much time and MONEY it has taken to care for him over the years. There are the vet bills he's racked up with his chronic ear infections, the obedience school he nearly flunked out of, the "doggie daycares" he's had to stay at when my parents went out of town and the list goes on. As much as my parents say he is worth every penny, I would say it really depends on how many pennies you have! So if you are thinking about getting a pet, take it from me, there are a lot of costs to think about. Consider this list if you are thinking about buying a pet:

1. Veterinary Expenses
Do not underestimate the cost of vet bills! New pets often require shots and that can cost a pretty penny. And since you can never predict what kind of health crisis your pet may experience, you also may want to have extra cash on hand for emergencies.

Of course, pet insurance is an option. Keep in mind that pet insurance fees can vary drastically and remember to find out exactly what's covered under the policy.

2. Boarding and Travel Costs
If you need to travel, but can't take your pet, you'll have to think about the cost of boarding or pet-sitting. Boarding can be anywhere from $15/night and up, depending on where you live and what kind of facility you want to take them to. If you have a dog, you might be able to save on cash if you forego the boarding option, but that might mean paying a dog walker instead.

If you are traveling by plane and want to take your pet, it's likely that you'll have to pay a fee for it. Some airlines charge fees in the $100 range per pet. Traveling by train? Some trains such as Amtrak often don't allow pets, so do your research ahead of time to determine whether you'll need to leave your furry friend behind.

3. Cleaning Costs
If you have a pet that requires regular grooming, you'll have to factor in these costs. Grooming rates depend on the size of your dog, but usually range somewhere from $20-$50.

And you'll also have to think about the costs associated with cleaning up after your pet. Whether it is just the lint roller, air-freshener or even "pee pads," it might not seem insignificant, but the costs add up!

4. Costs of Feeding
Pet food is not cheap! Obviously, costs vary depending on the type of food you feed your pet, the size of your pet and your pet's activity levels. So, if you're feeding a large, hyper dog high quality dog food, it can get expensive fast.

5. Pet Gear Expenses
You'll also want to think about the cost of any gear you purchase for your pet. Think about the cost of leashes, crates, collars, beds... it all adds up!

Of course, depending on what kind of pet you get there are other things to consider. For example, birds or fish don't need training, but puppies often do. The point is that it's important to think about the type of pet you want and to plan ahead for those costs. Having some idea of what your pet will cost you before you purchase it will give you a lot more peace of mind to enjoy it when you do.

About the Author:
As Women & Co.'s Marketing Manager, Cassandra brings professional experience working in marketing within the media industry. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from Fordham University. Cassandra seeks to understand the distinct financial needs of our members in order to help provide extensive financial resources. In addition to her role at Women & Co., Cassandra is an active member of Fordham Women in Business and is a regular volunteer with New York Cares.