Consumer Reports

Advice for First-Time Pet Parents

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Many people are finding new ways to occupy their time these days with things like puzzles, baking, and maybe online yoga classes. And many have added a new member to their household for some companionship on four legs.

But with a new pet comes new responsibilities, which is why Consumer Reports has some advice for first-time pet parents.

Pets need exercise, enrichment and basic training so they can be a good member of the family.

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Of course, pets don’t come cheap. Expenses include food, vet visits, grooming, and more. For example, dog owners will spend an average of $1,459 and cat owners will spend $1,174 in just the first year.

To help reduce expenses, look for ways to save money with an online food subscription, which can save about 5%, and ask about loyalty programs at local and online pet stores.

When it comes to the vet, pet insurance might help. But before enrolling, know what it covers and what it doesn’t.

When CR compared pet insurance coverage for a cat and a dog, it found that the cost could be worth it if your pet has a serious illness. But like insurance for people, pet insurance plans can be complicated, and they come with deductibles, copays, and premiums.

Finally, it’s important to prepare the owner and the pet for a post-pandemic life. That could mean hiring a dog walker or paying for doggie daycare, which is yet another expense. A pet can adjust to a new routine by gradually following what their schedule would be on days when the owner's at work or school.

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