Amidst the excitement and happiness of bringing a new member into your family, it's easy to forget that our dogs also come with a new set of bills. From vet appointment checkups every six months to a monthly heartworm pill, things really start to add up. One thing owners often neglect to prepare for though is the possibility of a financial emergency related to the dog.
This is important not only for health related costs like unexpected disease or injuries, but also in case of a disaster – fire, flood or anything else. If you don’t have a financial plan in place for your dog’s care, now’s the time to start! Here are some steps you can take so that you're not caught off-guard and don't need to consider giving up your pooch simply because you can't afford to care for them.
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Get Pet Insurance
There are several things to consider before you pick a specific company and their plan. Like any insurance, it really depends on the condition of your dog, where you live, who your vet is, and a number of other factors to determine what your monthly cost and deductible will be. Most pet insurance companies offer service for a monthly fee from $10-$100, with the average being about $25-$30.
You might think that it's not necessary because you are paying dental, vision, health, car, and property insurance after all. Why bring one more bill into the mix? But if you have an 80 pounds Labrador who needs to go under anesthetic for any reason, the anesthesia alone costs $75 per session; this doesn’t include the cost of the visit, any wounds treated, or medication prescribed to your pet.
In a financial emergency, you can be sure your pet is covered no matter what.
Don’t Skip Annual Checkups
Canines are pretty durable creatures – even when they aren’t feeling their best, they sometimes tough it out and act like nothing’s wrong. However, once a dog reaches the age of 9 or 10, they are 50% more likely to develop diseases such as cancer.
Annual checkups ensure that if there is a problem like cancer, the cost and treatment is far less invasive. If you wait until the symptoms become a visible tumor though, you’ll have a full blown surgery bill on your hands.
Make Sure You Can Afford a Dog
For those who already have a pet and are struggling to make ends meet, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone, and while most of us have good intentions it is very easy to forget how much simple things like food cost. Those of us who have ever had to spend a few weeks on a Ramen noodle diet can relate to this sentiment.
Dog food alone adds up, and the cheaper kinds generally aren’t recommended because you truly get what you pay for. Dog bones and teething items aren’t just a luxury, but a necessity for adults and puppies alike. Your pet needs something to grind the tartar off his teeth and keep his jaw muscles strong.
If you have the means, stock up on 2 or 3 bags of kibble at a time and keep a few cans of wet food on hand to stretch it out a little longer. You know that the bigger the breed, the more they eat! So if you’re on a budget and you wanted to get a Great Dane, or a puppy, maybe think about getting a smaller dog instead.
Create a Separate Savings Account
Even if you’re strapped for cash right now, it's still good to create a pet savings account and put aside $2 here and there. Keep it in a piggy bank if you want, just don’t spend it!
The thing is, dogs are a lot like children; you do the best you can with them, but at the end of the day they’re going to get hurt. They’re going to get sick, that’s just part of life.
If you can’t get insurance or an annual checkup, you at least need to set money aside for the big things. If your dog gets parvo and treatment is $500, at least you’ll have $200 to $300 put away in addition to whatever money you have in the moment. This at least handles the exam, antibiotics, water pouches (water inserted under the skin), and possible in-patient car along with IV fluids.
Name a Legal Guardian
Maybe they aren’t actual children, but for a lot us, our dogs play the role of our kids. We love them, cherish them, and we want to know that if anything ever happens to us, someone will step up and keep them safe. Don’t just hope for it, take action now to ensure that just like a child, your dog will have a legal guardian to take your place if it ever becomes necessary.
Sadly, many owners pass on without family or anyone who is willing to carry on the responsibility of owning a pet. Make plans for your dog, and find someone now who will make the promise to give your furbaby food, shelter, and plenty of love.
Know Which Shelters Allow Pets
Financial emergencies don’t just stop at physical injuries or being short on grocery money. It's crucial for pet owners to know about disaster preparedness, and how to handle such situations when you have pets around. Should your home become flooded, catch fire, or suffer some other type of serious natural disaster, hopefully you’ll have reliable family and friends that will welcome your dogs the same as they would for you.
However, not everyone is lucky enough to have strong, reliable ties to other people, and often end up at a loss for what to do when they become homeless with pets. There are hundreds of homeless and battered women shelters available for those who have fallen on hard times, but many of them force pet owners to leave their dogs outside.
Public libraries and food kitchens can provide you with resources and locations that will allow both you and your dog to stay for a limited time.
Hard times happen, and it's not always our fault! If you don’t prepare though, it's safe to say that you’re asking for trouble. Do whatever is possible in the now to ensure that you’re able to care for your dog when the time comes!
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