The Hidden Costs of Owning a Pet

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Posted: Monday, July 1, 2013 12:00 am

(StatePoint) America is a nation of pet lovers. About half the nation’s households include a dog or a cat, and they spend $53 billion yearly on pet expenses, ranging from food to vet bills to toys.

Some go a bit overboard. A whopping $370 million is spent on pet costumes yearly. Even more shocking is the toll our animals take on our electronics budget. American pets have bitten, chewed, licked, and otherwise damaged over eight million electronic devices, amounting to over $3 billion in repair and replacement costs.

Considering that one of every three devices damaged is a smartphone, this could mean up to $800 in replacement costs.

The risk of pet-related accidents increases the more pets are treated as family members. According to new research from SquareTrade, if you drive with your pet in your lap, you’re over twice as likely to damage your device. And letting a pet sleep in bed with you triples your chances.

Giving your pet too much independence is also risky. Two-thirds of pet-related accidents involving devices happened while the pet was unsupervised.

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Despite the growing popularity of pet insurance, many owners don’t realize this kind of insurance doesn’t cover damage caused by their pets. Consumers can protect themselves against pet-related accidents by getting a protection plan. For example, SquareTrade Protection Plans cover accidents, like devices getting batted off counters or falling in water bowls. They also cover mechanical and electrical issues, like antennae and Wi-Fi failure, broken connectors or touch-screen failure.

SquareTrade plans are available on Amazon and eBay, or in stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club.

And if your device breaks, SquareTrade sends a replacement within two to five days. You just have to mail your broken device back, free. And if your pet strikes more than once, you’re covered: up to four repairs or replacements per plan.

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