Can you afford this puppy? Pet Ownership Can Be Costly, So Budget Before Adopting National company


Four weeks after Kiril Zvezdarov brought Pearl, a Labrador mix, home from a dog rescue agency, she awkwardly landed while playing in a local park and broke five bones in her paw left.

“It was a really shocking event,” said Zvezdarov, a 31-year-old software engineer based in Toronto. “Fortunately, the emergency vet clinic was only half a mile away, so I was able to transport Pearl and get her admitted very quickly after the incident. “

While Zvezdarov had planned for expenses such as routine health care, insurance, food and treats, training and walking, and equipment like leashes and toys, the costs of health care to coming were a bit surprising.

Since Zvezdarov was in the process of getting adopted, he did not yet have pet insurance to cover medical costs. The rescue agency ended up covering the initial costs of the surgery, which were around $ 7,000. Zvezdarov now has pet insurance, but the injury is considered a pre-existing condition, so the follow-up costs were not covered.

“It was a very serious type of fracture that is particularly expensive to repair,” Zvezdarov said. “It’s a bit of a miracle that it was possible to deal with at all.”

After the initial surgery, Pearl needed weekly bandage changes at the clinic, follow-up surgery to remove the metal pins, four months of physical therapy, and a personalized carpal splint. Zvezdarov ended up spending $ 7,000 out of his own pocket, including the dog taxi service he used to take Pearl to his appointments. This amount does not include general annual security expenses.

“I am happy that I was able to provide her with the treatment and care she needed to recover,” Zvezdarov said.

Zvezdarov’s experience may not be common, but when it comes to adopting or buying a pet, it’s important to plan for the unexpected.

“I think a lot of people are prepared for the expected costs, like food and supplies, but I don’t know how much money is set aside for emergencies,” said Shauna Slobodian, owner and canine rehabilitation therapist in Kingston. , Ontario. -Based Pawsitively Fit Canine Rehabilitation & Wellness.

“Before you get a pet, think about what you’re willing to commit financially if something does happen and what your other options are if you can’t handle those payments,” she said.

Emergencies aside, Slobodian said pet owners are less likely to prepare for vaccines, sterilization and sterilization costs, flea and tick medication, and general health issues. For example, she explained that many dogs now have allergies that may require trying different foods and medications, and multiple vet visits. “It can add up quickly if you’re not prepared. “

When it comes to planning a pet, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association estimates that as of 2021, the annual cost of a puppy in Ontario is between $ 4,589 and $ 4,666, and $ 3,724. $ for a dog. As for cats, they estimate that it costs $ 3,091 to $ 3,231 per year to care for a kitten and $ 2,542 to care for an adult cat. These costs include basic veterinary care, food, basic necessities, and pet insurance. The latter can be useful to avoid heavy expenses.

“It’s like our own health insurance,” said Dr. Karla Scott, president of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association. “You put a small amount aside on your premium and [insurance] will cover a big bill for you or a percentage of a big bill. It takes that financial part out of a very emotional time.

Just like humans, pets are more likely to develop health problems as they age. Turning to preventive medicine can not only prevent other health problems, but also reduce future costs.

“Most vet clinics recommend doing some sort of blood test every year because if we can spot the changes early it is much easier to change our lifestyle rather than waiting to see a problem and then try to go back and solve it, ”says Dr Scott.

“So if you’ve done blood work and tested your pet and found that they’ve tested positive for heartworm prevention, but they didn’t have any signs or symptoms of the disease, it is much easier to manage than two or three. years later and your dog shows signs of congestive heart failure. Preventive medicine gets its money’s worth. “

It’s important to just do your research when preparing a pet, creating a budget, and playing the “what if” game since pets can live with us for 10, 15 or 18 years. added Dr Scott. For example, if you plan to relocate or travel more in the next few years, factor in these babysitting costs.

While pets can be expensive in some cases, they have been shown to help people improve mental health, increase physical activity, meet like-minded people, learn responsibility and , according to some studies, to contribute to a better quality of life, says Dr. Scott.

“I think the benefits of having a pet in your life outweigh the costs.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 3, 2021.

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