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Who’s That Doggy in the Window: Navigating the World of Modern Petcare


I have been fortunate enough to have lived with both cats and dogs my entire life.

Growing up the daughter of veterinarian, and then working in the veterinary industry I’ve met a lot of responsible pet owners. Unfortunately I’ve also met a lot of people who failed to understand the financial responsibility of owning a dog or cat.

Many people, but in particular people in the beginnings of adult life often dive into pet ownership without considering the financial implications. Over the course of our lifetimes our financial situations may change drastically, however, knowing what you are getting into before you add a furry friend to your family may help ease the stress of pet ownership.


Generally, Bigger the Animal, the more the Animal will cost to maintain

As a general rule this will be true. Most people will understand food for an 80 pound dog will cost significantly more than food for a ten pound dog. The same goes for medication. Larger bodies need higher doses, which means you will end up paying more for medications when your pet needs them. Larger animals may also need more supplements, such as glucosamine for joint health, something a little dog might not need. When you are considering a dog or cat, research breeds and their common health issues. Genetics can play a big part in a pet’s medical destiny, so understanding if your pet is prone to particular problems can help when it comes time to choose a breed that is right for you.

When buying a dog or cat from a breeder, it is important to know about any medical issues the parents have had. A breeder should be willing to provide a medical history to you, and if they do not, I would not recommend purchasing a pet from them. Next, speak to other pet owners to find out what kind of issues they’ve dealt with, with their own pets. Knowing what may be coming in the future financially will help you make smart decisions. Things like toys and animal care when you travel are also expenses that you need to account for.

On the flip side, smaller dogs and cats can be more prone to dental issues, resulting in costly dental procedures to clean and or remove teeth. Understanding what you can do to prevent these things is a conversation to have with your veterinarian.


Rescue Animals Cost Money too

Adopting or rescuing an animal is a fantastic thing, and I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from doing it. Unfortunately I’ve seen people adopt an older cat and then be hit with the hard reality that they are adopting a cat who is more likely to have chronic health issues. Animals age faster than we do, and many cats come from rescues with an unknown medical history. Veterinary professionals can only smile and nod when we hear you say “That’s what I get for trying to do the nice thing and adopt from the shelter.” I’m not trying to discourage you from adopting or rescuing, but rather to warn you about the hidden costs. Make sure you are prepared to look after the pet’s needs as they arise.

Many animal owners make the mistake of not taking their pet to the vet until there is a problem. This is a mistake. Yearly blood tests and medical exams can cost less in the long run than treating a disease that has progressed significantly. I have seen many people bring their dog or cat in saying “She was always healthy so I didn’t bring her in until problem x started” and then they are left with bills in the hundreds because of an issue or issues, that could have been prevented or treated if dealt with at a yearly visit to the vet. Don’t forgo regular check-ups in an effort to save money. A good veterinarian will be honest with you and help you prioritize any medical issues in the order that they need to be dealt with.

Where you live may also cause a difference in what you pay for medical care. Living in an expensive city means that veterinarian fees will cost more than other places. Do your research before hand and find out what the average veterinarian charges for things like exams and vaccines.

Adding a furry family member into your life is a wonderful thing, but it should never be as a result of a spur of the moment decision. Giving yourself time to look at the financial realities of pet ownership means you will be prepared for the not so fun side of the equation.


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