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Dogs, cats and other pets bring great joy to our lives, but caring for them can be expensive. Americans spent $123.6 billion on their pets in 2021, according to the American Pet Products Association.
From routine vet visits to medical treatments, the costs of caring for a pet can start to outrun your budget. If you can’t afford your pet’s expenses out of pocket, you might consider a pet loan, but watch out for interest charges and fees.
What is a pet loan?
A pet loan is a personal loan designed to cover pet-related expenses that you pay off over time with monthly payments. Banks, credit unions, and online lenders all offer personal loans, whether or not they can call them pet loans.
Personal loans are generally unsecured, which means that they do not require any collateral. Plus, they often come with a fixed interest rate that stays the same for the duration of your loan.
Let’s say you borrow a $4,000 pet loan with an annual percentage rate (APR) of 10%. If you choose a five-year term for your pet loan, you’ll make monthly payments of $84.99 and pay a total of $1,099 in interest charges.
It’s worth noting that personal loans can be used for just about any expense, so you don’t need to limit your search to pet loans. If you opt for a general personal loan, you can use it to cover your pet care costs.
How to apply for a pet loan
If you are interested in pet financing, here are the general steps you will need to follow.
- Check your credit. Since most pet loans are unsecured, a lender bases their approval decision on your credit and income. Before applying, check your credit score and review your credit report via AnnualCreditReport.com so you know what you’re working with. The better your credit, the better the rate you could get on a pet loan.
- Compare the prices. Every lender is different, so it’s worth checking your rates with at least three to find the best deal. Some lenders allow you to prequalify online, which means you can check your rates without impacting your credit score.
- Compare offers. Once you’ve received loan offers, compare them to see which is the most affordable. Consider interest rates, fees, and repayment terms to see what best fits your budget. A personal loan calculator can show you monthly payments and long-term costs.
- Check with your budget. Before choosing a loan, make sure that you will be able to pay the monthly payments. Falling behind on a loan can have bad consequences, including damaging your credit, so check that you can afford to repay the money before borrowing.
- Submit your application. If you decide to go ahead, you will submit a complete application with your personal details and all required documents, such as payslips or bank account statements. At this point, the lender will conduct a rigorous credit check, which could temporarily affect your credit score.
- Receive your loan funds. Some personal lenders can review and approve your application in just one day, while others take a little longer. Once your application is approved, you should receive the funds directly to your bank account.
- Repay your loan on a monthly basis. You will likely start making payments on your loan immediately. It’s a good idea to set up automatic payment to make sure you don’t miss any payments.
Can you get a pet loan with bad credit?
Qualifying for pet financing can be difficult if you have bad credit, but it’s not impossible. Each lender sets their own credit and income requirements. Since some lenders are more flexible than others, it’s worth shopping around to see if one will work with you.
If you have bad credit, however, you may be subject to lower loan amounts and higher interest rates than someone with strong credit. Some veterinary clinics offer pet financing options, allowing you to spread out payments over time. Financing a pet through a veterinarian may not require a credit check.
If you come across other no credit check loans from online lenders, beware of borrowing one. These are probably payday loans with exorbitant interest rates and fees. Although you may have access to funds, you could be trapped in a cycle of debt that is difficult to pay off.
Average cost to care for a pet
Pet care costs vary depending on the animal and other factors. Dogs tend to be more expensive than cats, and these two popular pets cost more than birds, reptiles, and fish.
Dogs are both the most popular and expensive pets in the United States. The average cost of caring for a dog is $1,391 per year, including about $300 for food and $225 for routine medical visits.
Adopting your furry friend can cost an additional $1,030, including $300 for neutering or neutering and an additional $300 for medical checkups and vaccinations. Also expect additional costs such as toys, treats, dog beds, crates, and training materials.
Caring for a cat is generally less expensive than a dog. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) puts a cat’s annual expenses at $1,149 per year, including $225 for food, $160 for medical care, and $140 for medication. preventive.
You could pay $455 when you first adopt a cat, including $150 for spaying or neutering, $175 for medical visits, and $40 for a carrier.
The average annual cost of care for a pet bird is $185, including $75 for food, $25 for toys and treats, and $85 for veterinary bills. A birdcage usually costs around $70, but you’ll likely pay more for bedding, perches, and toys.
The cost of adopting a bird can vary greatly. Some birds, like parakeets and finches, might cost just $10, while cockatoos and macaws might cost $5,000 or more.
Reptiles generally cost between $190 and $350 per year, with lizards on the lower end of that range and iguanas on the higher end. Pet snakes can cost up to $450 per year. These costs include veterinary care, food, cages, tanks, heat lamps and other supplies.
The cost of raising fish can vary greatly. A simple bowl setup can cost just $10 to $20 with fish ranging from $3 to $12. Aquariums, however, can cost $200 or more, with saltwater aquariums and fish much more expensive than freshwater ones. Kiplinger estimates the total lifetime cost of farming the fish to be between $270 and $410.
How to Use a Pet Loan
You can use a pet loan for all expenses associated with pet care, including veterinary treatment, surgery, and other medical expenses. Financing pet bills with a pet loan can be more affordable than charging them to a credit card.
You can also borrow a pet loan to cover the costs of a service, therapy or emotional support animal. Service dogs are highly trained and adopting one can cost between $15,000 and $30,000. If you adopt an emotional support animal, you may also need to pay a visit to a doctor or therapist who can attest to your need for a therapy pet.
Other Pet Financing Options and Considerations
Apart from pet loans, you can also explore other pet financing options. As mentioned, some vets will allow their clients to spread payments over time.
There are also a number of nonprofit organizations that offer assistance, such as the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, Bow Wow Buddies, Waggle Foundation, and Magic Bullet Fund. Research national and state organizations that could help fund pets.
You can also consider a credit card, but beware of high interest charges. The CareCredit healthcare credit card offers 0% interest if you pay off your balance within 24 months, but you’ll pay deferred interest if you still have a balance after that period.
Finally, it may be worth exploring your pet insurance options, which can help cover costs. Although pet insurance does not usually cover pre-existing conditions, it can cover a significant percentage of costs that arise in the future.
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