The Cost of a Free Puppy
Some honest thoughts on the cost of veterinary medicine, and how to be prepared for the costs of health care for your best friends!
In my previous posts, I have given some information relevant to pet owners. My intention has been to give information that pet owners would find useful, and interesting. I hope that this post will be as informative as the previous posts, possibly even more so. I’m going to tackle the sensitive subject of the cost of pet ownership. I recently read an article from CNBC. This article makes reference to a report from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals. This report says that an astounding 98% of people underestimate the lifetime cost of pet ownership. As a collective whole, veterinary clinic team members recognize the financial constraints of pet owners. In order to combat this problem, we need to be prepared.
What are the costs?
New Pet care– spay/neuter, puppy vaccines, microchip
Routine care– annual physical exams, annual vaccinations, heartworm preventative, flea and tick preventative, heartworm testing, and diagnostic monitoring profiles
Sick pet care– vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, mild musculoskeletal injuries
Emergency pet care– foreign body surgery, severe GI disease, hit by a car, toxin ingestion, laceration repair, bloat (GDV), anemia (low blood volume),
Orthopedic concerns– ACL tear (Knee injury), fracture, neck/back injury, hip dysplasia
Chronic health concerns– diabetes, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, renal failure, heart failure, arthritis, ears
Allergies– deserving of a category to themselves! This may involve medications, diet changes, and frequent medications for skin infections.
— to name just a FEW!
How can we be prepared?
Certainly not all pets will develop all of these diseases, but when an emergency or a chronic illness arises, it’s good to be prepared.
- Understand how expensive pet ownership can be. In this way you avoid the shock of expensive veterinary bills. Small breed dogs will be with you for 13-16 years, large breed dogs from 10-12 years, and cats can be a member of the family for as long as 18-20 years. As they age, cost of care generally increases.
- Do some research! Before you buy or adopt, talk to some people who own the type of dog or cat you are interested in. Some breeds have an increased prevalence of diseases such as allergies, back problems, diabetes, ear problems etc. It is good to be mentally prepared for the unique challenges of the breed you select.
- If using a breeder, ask some questions. Ask about the health history of the parents of the pups. Ask about genetic disease testing such as degenerative myelopathy for corgis, collie eye anomaly for herding breeds, and OFA certification for hip dysplasia (and more!)
- Start setting a few dollars a month away. It’s the same concept as an emergency fund for your family, but this is for your fur kids!
- Pet Insurance. It’s a confusing topic, but getting your new pet started on insurance can save you from a heartbreaking situation on down the road.
- Most importantly, don’t underestimate the money saving potential of good preventative care! A few good examples- heartworm preventative is expensive, but it’s cheaper than treating a large dog for heartworm disease. Spaying your dog can prevent uterine infections that lead to emergency surgery. Vaccinating for parvovirus protects your dog from a disease that can lead to several days of intensive care hospitalization!
The report from People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals also states that 93% of people said the decision to own a pet made them happier! We know you love your pet. We don’t really like talking about money, and we certainly don’t like asking for it. As members of a veterinary care staff, we consider ourselves a team, and we want to include you in the team. You, as the owner, caregiver, and all around pet parent are the most important member of the team, and we don’t want to leave you behind. We care about each member of the family, both two legged and four legged!